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25 April, 2003

P>Off to Ice Camp

Today in Cape Krusenstern, Kotlik and Imik lagoons, 30 miles north of Kotzebue
We began our day by packing 2 large sleds full of scientific instruments, food and personal gear. We mounted our snow machines, attached the sleds and took off, traveling 30 miles across the frozen Kotzebue Sound and up the coast to Cape Krusenstern National Monument (it is a large lagoon, not a statue). Along the way we saw many hunting and fishing camps. The local people come to different camps to hunt at different times of the year as a way to subsidize the food which a job can provide (subsistence hunting).

What science is happening?
We had a lot of work to do so we split up into two teams. Alex, Lisa and Melinda stayed at Krusenstern and drilled holes for tomorrow’s sampling. Terry and I headed 40 more miles north to the lagoons of Kotlik and Imik to test the holes Terry and Melinda drilled on Wednesday. Why do you think that we don’t sample the same day that we drill the holes?

Terry and I did the same tests that we did last Monday.
1.)First we checked water quality with the CTD diver to test for water Conductivity (how much salt is in the water), Temperature and Depth.
2.) We used a Seki Disc (a black and white disc on a rope) We drop it down the hole and see how far down it can still be seen, in other words how clear is the water?
3.)We release a Neskin Bottle, where we grab water from the bottom of the lagoon.
4.) Finally, we do two or three mud grabs. We use a ponar grab, a devise like a big jaws that chops up mud as soon as it hits the bottom.

We tested the three sites in Kotlik and drove 10 more miles up to Imik only to find that the holes are underwater.

The day stays light longer every day. I was very surprised when Terry and I arrived back at camp discovered it was 10:00 pm. No wonder I’m so tired!

Classroom Connections:
Why do you think it is a problem that the test hole at Imik is under water?
If you said that we could not cross the ice without falling in…sorry but you are incorrect. The ice that Terry and Melinda measured when they drilled the holes was 6 feet thick, while the water underneath was two feet deep or less! So falling in wasn’t a concern. The problem is that the water on top was from rain and melting ice.
So what is the difference between rain and ice when they melt and the lagoon or sea water?
Hint: What do you put on your sidewalk when it is icy?
Do you think creatures will behave differently or even have trouble living if some of their living conditions change?

The rain and warm weather have made travel difficult. On our trip to the remote lagoons, Terry (the snow machine expert) and I (the snow machine trainee) chose to travel on the sea ice because the snow had mostly melted on the tundra. We ran into ice called Chock ice. That is when the ice first begins to break up. Instead of just breaking apart, the tides push it together and it starts making some pressure ridges and cracks called leads. We had about 2 miles of a roller coaster ride. I will admit I was very nervous, even though I was with a skilled traveler. However, when we were done, I was disappointed to learn that we were taking another route home!


Learn more about our project here
View curriculum for this project, “Ask a Scientist” and learn about other Arctic Real Time research at Arctic Alive
City of Kotzebue Webpage
Listen to the local radio station KOTZ live

1.) Lisa talking on the satelite phone during our Arctic Alive conference call.

2.) This is me talking with several classes around te country during our Arctic Alive conference call.

3.) This is our cabin at the park service.

4.) Going to see the fish took on a whole new meaning.

5.) On the way to Inik lagoon we could see where the sea ice was breaking up. It made for some interesting snow mobiling until we were able to get to the beach. The early spring ice break-up caused a lot of travel problems.

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