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9 July, 2001


Today was very cold, even for Barrow. I had to wear my sweater plus my fleece under my jacket, something I haven't done since I arrived. The wind was blowing from the north, which made it feel that much colder. There are a few ice chunks left on the ocean now and the wind was blowing the water against them at such a fast clip that breakers were washing the bergs! Rommel flew out over the ice, which we found out is bunched up out of sight about 3 miles from shore, and assured us that yes, the ice is still there and it is playing host to a large number of seals.

Glen and I went out into the field early today. He helped me out with identifying the types of mini-topography present at each flag point along the 7 tower transects. With tundra polygons it's hard to see the entire picture when you are standing in the middle of one! The data collected from 3 years ago did not include precise definitions of each topographic type so we have to backtrack and see if we can understand how the first observer was labeling what he saw. I don't expect my version to be an exact replica three years later but it shouldn't be very different either. Things just don't change that much up here in that short of a time.

After lunch we went back out, with more layers of clothes on. Glen continued to measure fluxes comparing the controls to various treatments at his site, while I walked more transects. I enjoy this. I can walk all over the tundra, take pictures, practice my plant identification skills and observe what is going on around me. Today I spotted the fox that was rushing around scaring up the birds. She sat down for what seemed like a long time. As I watched her she looked like she was eating something. After she moved on out of view, I walked over to her resting place and was looking around to see if I could get clues as to what she was doing. No clues but I scared up a sandpiper like bird that would not leave the area. I found her nest; the fox didn't, and took some pictures of the 4 eggs she was so vehemently protecting. You would think a nest on the ground would be easy prey for others to find but when I took my eyes off of it to get my camera I had a difficult time relocating it! Brown speckled eggs dug into the tundra surrounded by grasses, there's not a better hiding place.

I came back before dinner after completing 2 transects. I'll be finished with the data gathering part of the project by Thursday and then will begin organizing and analyzing what I have. I started out wanting to know if there have been changes in the plant distribution and topographic features over the past few years but once the data is in I might find other trends or relationships which I didn't foresee. I will put this information into a GIS data base and be able to then manipulate and display the data in a number of ways.

This seems to be the schedule the group will be on for the next week. Lety is taking her soil respiration measurements, Michelle is separating the roots she has gather so she can stain them and determine if fungi are present, Hyojung and Spring keep processing data from the Barrow and the Prudhoe Bay towers and Rommel and Joe keep trying to keep the airplane up in the air as much as possible, weather permitting. They completed one transect this morning from the Barrow tower to the Atkasook tower but the cloud ceiling dropped this afternoon and have not been up again. Stan and Erika were in the field again today collecting flux and reflectance measurements. Things seem to have fallen into a routine here with everyone doing their jobs and enjoying being here.

The nest was well hidden and the Mama stayed very close all the time trying to lure me away.

This Dunlin mom watched me and approached to within 3 feet.

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