5 June, 2001
Arrived in Barrow last night at 6:30 pm. The three (3) legs of the trip from Tucson went smoothly but clouds blocked much of the view, especially from Fairbanks to Barrow. The breaks in the clouds provided my first view of the arctic tundra. Snow is still on the ground and the Arctic Ocean is also still frozen although I could see puddles starting to form and ice breaking up. My first impression of Barrow..muddy! The combination of spring thaw and dirt roads makes for dirty cars, dirty boots and slippery footing.
The team I'm with from San Diego State, is headed by Glen Kinoshita and includes Spring Strahm and myself. More team members are expected up here in the next few weeks. There are also two SDSU science educators, Ali Rios and Maggie Reibold, who are here working in the elementary summer school programs in town. We are still unpacking equipment and getting things organized, which may take another day or two.
The weather was foggy all day and in the 30's. Glen and Spring had planned to fly to Atqasuk this morning, a small village about 100 miles south of Barrow, which houses another of the meteorological towers (eddy covalence towers) we are monitoring. They were not able to because of the weather and now plan to take the trip Friday. A lesson learned early for me is that the weather rules what gets done many times up here in the Arctic.
Since we are in Barrow, a town of approx 4,000 people, our field camp is not as rough and rustic as one might expect. We are headquartered at NARL (Navy Arctic Research Laboratory) a facility which houses the local Ilisagvik Junior College during the winter so we do have dorm type rooms, a cafeteria which serves 3 meals a day, hot showers and a laundry room, all the comforts of home! There are also other scientific teams here from other universities. There are teams from U of Michigan, UCLA and U. of Maryland each doing research on their own research so there are many people to talk to and meet. People will be coming and going all summer so alot is happening here all the time.
We visited the NOAA climate monitoring station today and had a tour of the facility. It is small but packed with equiptment which records everthing from wind speed and direction to the breakdown and identification of gases in the air. Dan Endres, the Station Chief, explained the instruments and what they record. The station sits back from the ocean front about a mile and is close to one of our sites which Glen went to today to download data from. Most all the sites are computer operated and are visited to collect data which is then downloaded to the computers in the lab. Tomorrow we start digging out and exposing the tundra plots to sunlight . They are covered by snow, which would eventually melt but we are speeding up the process in order to start exposing the tundra to light and start taking diurnal measurements.
The remainder of the day was spent around Barrow, getting familiar with the town. Where do you get gas for the vehicles? (there is one gas station in town and gas is $3.55 per gallon.) Where do you buy food? There is one big store in , S.P., which sells everything but I hope I don't have to use it very often. Prices are very high up here because the supplies come up by boat and only in the summer when the ice melts. Milk sells for $8.00 a gallon, a coke 6 pack for $8.00...on sale! Salaries are higher also but things are expensive.
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