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Coming to Calm, Cool, Thin Conditions on the Barrow Pen

1/23/2018

We arrived in to Barrow with a nice greeting and pic up from Qiayaan with UIC who brought us out to the NARL to find our snowmachines, sleds, and gear all in one place and nicely organized with fueled machines and enough gas to get out to Tesh an back and then some.

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Because of this help, we were able to get staged last night to get out on the Barrow Peninsula at first twilight, about 9:30am, to start measuring ice on the same set as we and others have done in past years.

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Perhaps more importantly, we got out and adjusted. Probably was about -20 to -30 F most of time, machines did well, we got used to cold, it wasn’t windy, which made a big difference. Plus just felt nice to get back out on the tundra and see around.

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The ice was remarkably thin and probably not a coincidence that riding was smooth (i.e. there’s a lot of snow making for filled in tundra and lots of insulation to slow ice growth).

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By the time we’d hit our sixth lake, it was about 3pm and still actually pretty light. We’d run across many caribou, an unexpected eider duck, and a curious arctic fox. The average ice thickness from multiple holes drilled (n=18) in these lakes was 72 cm (about 2.5 feet), which is thin, thin! See plot below showing today's measurement relative to past years based on ice growth curves fit to late winter measurements (about half of the years) and rough estimate based on air temperature and snow depth records. Average for this time of year has been about 120 cm (about 4 feet). Last year was a record thin ice on the BP and according to our measurements today, this year might beat it if warm weather persists and snow stays on the lakes.

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Tomorrow morning we’ll leave for Teshekpuk Lake to the east crossing sea ice of Dease Inlet and then coming across the mix of river channels and lakes of the Ikpikpuk Delta. Got a nice route report from NSB Wildlife and should be an enjoyable trip.