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Call of the Ptarmigan

4/28/2016

In an Arctic landscape where the snow softens and patterned tussocks begin to dot the white world, clucking ptarmigan are a sure sign of spring. This morning and much of yesterday the horizon was whiter than the degrading snowscape. We got a lucky window in the late afternoon when freezing mist stopped and visibility improved enough for Bob from 70N to fly in the rest of our team from Deadhorse. When we got the news, we were out on the coast doing geophysics at an old well site at Drew Point and setting up a real-time camera to monitor coastal erosion and nearshore sea-ice conditions.

 Setting up a real-time camera tripod along Drew Point coastline

Ben bounced it back to camp to give local weather conditions and smooth the runway. Allen, Andy, and I worked back SE on three more lakes: two bedfast and one floating. Allen focused on measuring snow depth profiles on lake bluff to evaluate how it insulates permafrost and may set the stage for summer thermal erosion.

Even though the snowpack is ripening, hard awkward drifts still present jarring hits and slow travel. We arrived back at camp around 10PM to a warm cabin and Esther B and Andrea C enjoying its comforts.

 Esther (doesn't like to show her face) and Andy (who's Mom is following our blog) hangin' in the cabin lounge

Today we’ll head west towards the Ikpikpuk Delta and hope conditions present an opportunity for Capt. Bawb to fly in rest of our supplies (propane) and geophysical instruments.