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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Matthew Sturm from CRREL (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory) at the entrance of the Permafrost Tunnel.

Remnants of the ice that covered Goldstream Creek a few months ago.

Fairbanks is approximately the halfway point of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline that snakes its way across 800 miles of Alaska from Prudhoe Bay on the north slope to deliver oil to tankers waiting in the port city of Valdez.

Dr. Pam Groves details the different adaptations that caribou and muskox have for surviving in the high Arctic and describes the differences between caribou and domesticated reindeer, which live in a mixed herd at the Large Animal Research Station.

Muskox calves are born in early spring and stay close to their mothers for over a year. Muskox at LARS are used to investigate aspects of behavior, nutritional physiology, energetics, and wool production.

Glenn Juday of the Forest Sciences Department of the University of Alaska Fairbanks explains the life history of two species of wood-boring beetles found in the trees of this section of the Long Term Ecological Research station at Bonanza Creek that burned in 1983.

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