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Patterns, Trends, and Uncertainty in the Arctic

4/15/2017

Sleeping in a bed felt good last night and woke up wondering at which of the last five camps I was sleeping. Arriving at Toolik yesterday was an elation given some of the challenges we faced on this ~400 mi journey (X2 with science travel). The Brooks Range glowed to our coming. A delicious dinner than reuniting with our companion Allen, up to do snow surveys for the TEON project, helped confuse my slumber. But it was still good!

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Completing the Toolik node helped to complete this years survey of ice and snow conditions that we’ve maintained consistently now for six plus years. This year was unusual in ways relevant to our project and response of arctic ecosystems in general. Snow was abnormally deep along the coast and that coupled with warmer temperatures produced the thinnest lake ice that we know of. Inland ice was closer to what we’ve seen over the last few years, but still thin. In the lower foothills around Umiat it was actually thicker than normal tracking snow very well. This low ice year doesn’t necessarily represent a trend in this context (see previous blog), but underscores the need to better understand such patterns, how they change from year to year, and most importantly why. Such science will lead to better predicting how the abundant lakes of this region will interact with permafrost, atmosphere, and living things.

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We unpacked our gear this morning for the last time this trip. Olaf with CPS is up to pick it up and also give us a lift to Deadhorse. However the wind on the coast has picked up again and we’ve delayed our departure. That’s how this labor of love goes. Lots of uncertainty in how we go and what we know and that’s part of what makes it so compelling and also…

 

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