Friday, May 27, 2011

Wrapping Things Up

It's our last week in Barrow, at least until next year. We'll fly out on Monday evening, but there's still plenty to get done in the lab before then: processing the cores we collected this week, running a few more settling column experiments, and packing everything up.

Andy, in red cap, and Craig working during one of our final field days.
Yesterday was our last day out in the field. We had some very bad luck on Wednesday when our ice corer broke. Nonetheless, we're extremely grateful that we were able to recover it from the ice, and that this didn't happen early on in the month!

In addition to taking ice core sections, we've collected a number of other types of samples and data:

Craig (left) and Mark deploying the plankton net, which we hang horizontally in the current for about half an hour at a time to collect both plant and animal plankton just below the ice.

We've collected more sediment samples with our benthic grab. This amphipod was in one of those samples.
The benthic grab. We lower it down to the bottom, then send a "messenger" (a weight that travels along the rope) to activate the mechanism that closes the jaws at the base of the device.
This ctenophore, or comb jelly, floated up into one of our auger holes yesterday. It was about 7-8" long. We collected it for isotopic analysis (see the end of the previous blog post for more info about isotopes), though because jellies are comprised mainly of water, there might not be enough tissue to run such an analysis.
Also, we've shot some fantastic videos of algae under the ice and the macrofauna on the seabed (mainly isopods and jellies). We'll be able to upload some of those clips soon.

There's been evidence of even larger animals at one of our sampling sites: this auger hole wasn't frozen after several days, and the dark oval to the right indicates a seal was lounging there recently!

We also saw several polar bears in the distance on Monday, lurking in the fog, but thankfully they stayed away from our field station.

Though the weather's been steadily warming up, our field excursions have been a mix of cloudy, gray days, when seagulls and flocks of ducks disappear like ghosts into the mist, and brilliantly sunny days, when we get so warm we toss our heavy coats aside. The snow has melted so much that we've occasionally had problems navigating the snowmobiles over the slush.

The science team and our bear guards extricating a snowmobile and our equipment sled from a drift.

Ice blocks standing about 15-20' high.

Blue, salt-free ice in the foreground contrasts starkly with sediment-laden ice in the background.

Blue ice on a sunnier day.

Snow drifts around mounds of sea ice.

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