Friday, June 26, 2009

Ms. Lerenman in the Arctic Day 7

Jen finds the best route to get across the water in our rain gear.
Steve helps all the women across the water. We all got booters on the way back, but let's face it, we all liked it.
A view of the Rocket site with the tundra bordering the newly melted ice feature.

Everyone tries to help Jen out of the snow as she sinks, and by "help," we mean, take pictures.

This morning started off with the group dividing into two crews. The first went to the burnt spruce forest site (the white spruce, not the black) with Dr. Pete while the rest of us stayed back with Steve to finish entering spruce needle length data into computers. After a few hours of "5.5, 8, 8, 8, 8.5, 9, 5, 6.5, 6.5 cm, etc." our eyes glazed over but we were done! "I Went to the Arctic and all I got was this Carpel Tunnel" was an idea for a T-shirt idea I had, but as Steve says it's "Science!" and we would do anything for science. (As he exclaims, "Science," you can see his finger point to the sky and his invisible light bulb flicker in his brain). Thus, "Data" is now our middle name.

For lunch, Rob served chicken fingers and Will paced himself. Then we split up into two groups again. The Pete group went and did some more GPR (ground-penetrating radar) readings at the Tree Island site. There, they battled the snowy terrain for domination. The Earthwatchers won. No GPR goes undone with this gang.

The group with Steve got to collect more needle bags from the Rocket site (abbreviated to "ROK", because either Canadians or scientists can't spell). It's called the Rocket site because there's rocket remains there from the Cold War. We didn't get to see any rockets, but we did get to see a ring of spruce trees shaped like a menorah! That was our treat from Steve for finishing the site and he described the candelabra shaped-tree with glee. We decided that Steve should get married there and that he can lift the mosquito net off his wife's face like a veil after the I Dos. What a special day that would be.

On the way there, we got to have a nice leisurely walk from the Center, crossed a snow drift and stream (or a water runoff from the melting or what not) and walked across some of the prettiest and surreal looking lichen I've ever seen. The colors are really blossoming these days. The bags, although pretty muddy, came out without too much trouble and we gave ourselves some mental pats on our backs for being awesome science assistants.

It started to rain on our way back, but we were troopers and forged ahead. We crossed the water again, and most of us got booters (water in the top of our boots) for the first or second time that day. As Laura put it, most of us like feeling like kids jumping into puddles again...and, why not? It's the Arctic! (This is our excuse for any out of the ordinary behavior while up here...)

Both groups got back from the sites with plenty of time to spare until dinner, so Steve got everyone right to work while he "delegated" and then escaped to his office to "work." Everyone paired off to clean off the needle bags and sort them for dessication, so that Steve could record the process moisture loss and decomposition from nutrient loss over the year for his project...or at least that sounds about right. (Pretend that "process" and "project" is said in a Canadian accent and then it sounds pretty legit).

We finished our lab work just in time for dinner and Rob made pasta, a group favorite. We ate and then played a card game that Leanne and Ben taught us, "Crazy 8 Countown," and it was like the game that never ends. Luckily, Krista Hanis was giving a talk at 7:30, so we went to the packed classroom to engage in some learning...Holler Scholar! After all of the various lectures, field and lab work, we are finally starting to get some of the nitty gritty of the arctic science here. I may even be able to explain methane ebullience in the wetlands to someone with some degree of confidence. The wetlands, or the Fen, here is the 3rd largest wetland in the world, and we were lucky enough to get to GPR in it...or even fall in it. Whatever... It's the Arctic!

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