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26 April, 2003

Samples, Activities, Back to Kotzebue

Today in Kotzebue

It is a beautiful, clear , cold morning here on the Chukchi Sea.

What science is happening?
Today we will be sampling at the holes that that Alex, Lisa and Melinda drilled yesterday. What did you come up with yesterday, when I asked “Why don’t we drill and sample the same day?” The reason is that the water column is disturbed when we drill and our samples would not be accurate if we sampled right after putting 6 feet of auger in the hole and stirring everything up.

We did the same type of sampling that Terry and I did yesterday; we took CTD readings, a Seki Disc measurement, used the Neskin bottle to get a water sample from the bottom and took two mud grabs. We were able to sample 6 of the 7 holes that had been drilled. The 7th hole was under water and we couldn’t sample.

When we came back to camp, Melinda and I packed, washed dishes and made lunch. While Charlie Lean, from the National Park Service, who joined us this morning, Terry and Lisa drilled some ice cores to take back and test for algae.

We then loaded the sleds, mounted our snow machines and headed the 30 miles for home across the Kotzebue Sound ice.

Classroom Connection 1
Remember when Imik was underwater and we couldn’t sample. It isn’t that the ice is unsafe, there is still 6 feet of it, it is that the water on the top, leaking into the holes is fresh water. Rainwater and ice when it melts is all fresh water, that means that there is no salt in it. The lagoon, connected to the sea, will have salt water in it.
Question 1
Does salt water freeze?
Ok, I’ll answer that one for you
No…at least not until it gets rid of the salt. As the sea freezes, fresh water bands together and becomes ice. The salt water is super concentrates and makes little holes in the ice, draining to the bottom, under the form ice. These are called brine channels.
Question 2
Having that information about how salt water behaves when it freezes, what do you think the salinity of the water right below the ice is (How much salt is in the water, more or less than before it froze)?
Question 3
Question 4
Now I asked this question yesterday, you have more information now…Why do you think people put salt on icy side walks?

Classroom Connection 2
Was I cold traveling in the Arctic Circle on a snow machine across a windswept ocean inlet? No, not at all. The only chill I felt was on the back of my head when my hood filled with air. We always were long underwear under our clothes. Then comes a layer of fleece (like thick sweat shirts) then comes the outer layer of bibbed overalls and a down parka. A neck gator (warm wrap around the neck that can be pulled over the face), hat, two pair of gloves and goggles complete the ensemble. In fact I was more often too warm than too cold.
Question 4
What about layers of clothing is a good insulator?
What do you have between the layers of clothing?…if you said “nothing” you are not entirely right. If you close an empty milk carton what is inside?
Have you heard the word “insulation”?
Question 5
What do you think would make a good insulator?
<Question 6
(I’m keeping you busy today, huh?) What do animals do to insulate themselves against the cold?
Hint: What do polar bears, for example have that keeps them warm? I’m sure you thought of fur, but have you thought of fat (blubber)?
Try this at home
You need:
a one-gallon (approximately)container
several trays of ice cubes
4 quart size Ziploc bags
2 cups of shortening or lard
Any materials that you think would insulate you from the cold, such as fur or feathers or cotton
1.) Put shortening into a Ziploc bag
2.) Take another Ziploc bag, cover your hand with it and stick it in the blubber. Squish blubber around until it covers your hand (between the two bags. DON’T touch the blubber)
3.) Seal the two Ziploc bags to each other, so the blubber can’t get out.
4.) Seal another source of insulation (feather, fur, what ever you are trying) between the other 2 Ziplocs in the same way.
Dump ice into gallon container, fill the rest with cold water.
5.) Put both Ziploc bags on your hand like mittens and put in ice water
What to notice:
Which hand feels warmer? Try different insulators to compare with blubber. What do you think is the best insulator?

As I zoomed home, I began to think that this would be my last snowmobile ride. The snow is melting, the ice is breaking up and the rest of our work this trip will be in town. It is a different world to be out seeing white in all directions, even though I was with others, I was in my own world. Because we couldn’t hear or speak as we traveled, it led me to some deep introspection. I felt a peace that seldom comes in our busy world.


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

Charlie Leam from the National Park Service pointed out the caribou carcass under the snow. If you look close you can see where the squirels have nibbled on the antlers to get the calcium.

This is Lisa using a Neskin Bottle to take water samples from the bottom of Krusenstern Lagoon.

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