Frozen Water in the Air, Lakes, and Land
Today was another whiteout with 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures at ground level and a strong wind delivering a wintery mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Vizibility ranged from 200 feet to 4 miles and was difficult to distinguish the ground from the sky all day. Because of these persistent conditions our two additional team members remain in Deadhorse. Hopefully they are biding their time getting to know each other and talking about non-intrusive investagations of our lakes and the surrounding permafrost landscape.
In spite of the moist working conditions all day, we made measurements on a wide diversity of landforms around the Teshekpuk Lake Observatory: a bedfast ice thermokarst lake, a floating ice thermokarst lake, lagoons of both ice regimes, Teshekpuk Lake, an upland tundra site, and a recently drained thaw lake basin. In all of these, ice, snow, and time plays an important role in their form and function.
In the grander scheme of things, we are trying to understand a variety of spatial, temporal, and depth scales. On a small scale, new snow-ice buoys were visited at Wadepiper, Lonely Wolf (Inigok several days ago), and Teshekpuk lakes, which measure ice thickness via temperature profiles and also snow depth and air temp over the lake surface. These point measurements provide information on lakes underlain by permafrost, lakes that have shallow and deep thaw bulbs in the permafrost. It is interesting that the lake water below the ice has already started to warm in response to increases in insolation and air temperature.
At deeper scales across a diversity of landforms, we are attempting to image water and ice in the ground beneath our feet whether the surface is covered with lake or tundra or something in between. Andy has been working intensively to decipher our complex subsurface landscape.
Tomorrow we hope skies will clear in this season of cryospheric unrest so we can unite the team and bring in needed supplies (i.e. frozen juice concentrate and eggs).