8 June, 1999
Tuesday, June 8, 1999
Hi all! We did so much today, I can't even remember it all! I know
the day started by me having to dig out the long johns for a trip to
CRREL's ( U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory)
permafrost tunnel, which was pretty incredible. Permafrost is ground that
is permanently frozen, and while in Fairbanks permafrost areas are
scattered around (discontinuous permafrost), up above the Arctic Circle -
such as in Barrow - ALL the ground is permafrost - sometimes for more than
1,000 meters thick! Matthew Sturm, a snow scientist with CRREL in
Fairbanks, gave us a thorough tour of the tunnel's main features, including
seeing the underside of ice lenses in the soil and the preserved remains of
a Steppe Bison that died over 30,000 years ago. In the summer, they must
refrigerate the tunnel, and they try to keep the lights on inside for as
short a time as possible. I will write more about permafrost and the tunnel
later, but I want to get down on paper (not really paper, I guess!) what
else we did before I forget.
We went from the permafrost tunnel to the monument of Felix Pedro
(his nickname), who first discovered gold near Fairbanks. The significant
part of this trip is that there was still snow on the ground here! Weather
in Fairbanks has been consistently hitting 70 and above for several days,
so it was very surprising to see this snow around the creek.
We then went to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which pipes oil from
Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Coast (east of Barrow) all the way to Valdez in
Southcentral Alaska. I must write more about that too! I am in a bit of a
time crunch write now, since although the date says "TUESDAY" it is
actually Wednesday and I need to go catch a plane to Barrow! Before I sign
off, I must mention that we also went to LARS, which is the University of
Fairbanks Large Animal Research Station, where I learned about musk oxen,
caribou, and reindeer.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent at a LTER (Long Term Ecological
Research) site in a boreal forest near the Tanana River Floodplains, where
Dr. Glenn Juday from UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) was kind enough
to let Renee and I tag along as introduced the area to a couple of his new
graduate students. It was very interesting to learn about his research and
future research opportunities of that area.
Well, it is 4:30 and my plane leaves at 5:19 so I must be off! I
will fill in the details much better when I next reach a computer (possibly
tonight). I have not yet had access to my e-mail, but I think I will be
able to read it by tomorrow in Barrow, in case anyone has sent any messages
back to me! Hope all is well with you all! Michele Hauschulz
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