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Thursday, 23 April 2009 06:09
UAF's 2008 McCall Glacier expedition: Taking stock out the outcome
Exactly one year ago today, The University of Alaska Fairbanks began a 5 month expedition to Arctic Alaska to study glacier response to climate change and their influence on the local ecosystems, as part of our contribution to IPY. The major accomplishments of that effort include: Extracting nearly 500 m of ice core from three holes in the glacier, Bringing 170 m of this back to civilization to study paleoclimate in this region, Installing thermistor strings to measure ice temperature throughout each of the three core holes, Conducted shallow coring to investigate the processes of internal accumulation on the glacier, Measured stage and discharge of the outlet stream throughout the summer,...
Friday, 18 July 2008 22:13
Day 87-88: Same song, different station
Packing seems to have become a major component of our lifestyle. Our house is mostly one big room which seems to spend most of its time full with piles of gear in some stage of being packed or unpacked. Right now we’re packing for three trips – we leave for Colorado tonight for a week, we leave for a backpacking trip into the glacier a few days after we return, and we have 5 weeks on the glacier after that. The glacier portion is the most work to prepare for, as we’re packing this with the plan of dropping it down to the glacier from the plane, in case the plane is unable to land on the ice. So everything has to be packaged to survive a drop of 100 feet and a crash landing at 50 mph. I have no prior experience at air drops, so this is sure to be a learning experience. Fortunately its...
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 22:06
Day 84-86: Press releases gives McCall Glacier another 15 minutes of fame
The past few days for me have been consumed by a press release that UAF sent out describing our ice coring success. I had written a draft of the release several weeks earlier and sent it out to our UAF public information office on our arrival in Kaktovik, but it took some time to work through the system and go through a few iterations. Here is a link to the initial release. Much of the time related to this got soaked up getting photos ready. I had prepared a bunch the week before, but then I was told we needed model release forms from everyone in the photos. Of course nearly all my photos have people in them, and most of these people are hard to get hold off in summer. So then I had to sort through to find...
Sunday, 13 July 2008 22:04
Day 82-83: Settling into civilization
With Benny gone and our next departure still a week away, we had a brief lull to remember what summer in Fairbanks is like. We also caught up a bit with a few old friends and Turner had the chance to visit with his friends too. In between we shopped for food for the next phase of the trip (about 160 man-days worth) and began considering how to package this for air-drops. I stitched a few of my high resolution panoramas – composed of 300 to 500 shots each – and was relieved to learn that they stitched beautifully for the most part. I’ll try to upload them in the next week, but they are multi-gigabyte files and I may not have the chance. ...
Friday, 11 July 2008 22:02
Day 79-81: Return to civilization
Given that the weather was not improving and that Nick and Jessica had the Kaktovik scene figured out, we decided to head back to civilization a bit earlier. We had begun settling into Kaktovik life pretty well and enjoyed our visits with the neighbors and the chaos of Waldos, but the list of things to do to prepare for the next phase of the trip began growing longer and longer the more we thought about it, and the list of productive things to do in Kaktovik was getting pretty short. So once Turner got his stitches out, we switched our reservations and headed back to town. Huge snowfences surround the infrastructure of Kaktovi...
Tuesday, 08 July 2008 21:50
Day 78: High-resolution aerial photography
Benny arrived from LA a few days ago and today we went on our first photo flight. Benny is a professional photographer and specializes in aerial photography. He brought with him several high-powered cameras and helped me figure out how to use the one I bought from him on ebay. My camera uses 5 inch wide negative film to take 4”x5” photos, compared to 35mm film which is less than 1” squared. One of Benny’s cameras takes 8”x10” photos. He built this camera himself, machining it out of a solid block of aluminum to be lightweight and aerodynamic. Another camera has 39 megapixel resolution, compared to my high-end Nikon which has only 12 megapixels, and it also has 12 stop dynamic range, which greatly exceeds a digital Nikon at about 6 and even black and white film at 10. So we look...
Monday, 07 July 2008 21:45
Day 75-77: Lidar success!
After 50 years of attempts, a high resolution map of McCall Glacier may have just been acquired. During the International Geophysical Year 1957-58, eight glaciers in Alaska were selected for long-term research. A primary component of this research was the use of topographic maps – by making such maps periodically, the evolution of the shape of the glacier could be tracked and its dynamics better understood. McCall Glacier was the centerpiece of this research and the only glacier of the eight where a major field program was established. As such, the first tests in making topographic maps were done there as that is where it would be most useful to the field team. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented the mapping team’s return to McCall Glacier, and all that we were left with is a map ma...
Friday, 04 July 2008 21:42
Day 74: Celebrating Independence Day and a bit of lidar success
I was up at 4:30AM to check weather, which was nearly perfect, and I checked in with Jessica and Nick to let them know that today could be our day. We only need about 3 days of this weather to complete the project, and in one day we could gather our most essential data. They arrived from Deadhorse about 7AM and we quickly redeployed the ground-based GPS. I sat in the truck as they taxied off, waiting around to get a picture of them taking off with the background of mountains. But they never took off. I called them on the radio and they said they were having issues with the lidar. So they came back to the ramp and we fooled around with things a bit more. I unplugged their antenna going to the top of the plane and plugged it back in, and about this time the unit came alive again. So they tax...
Thursday, 03 July 2008 20:25
Day 73: Our first injury of the trip
Our first serious injury of the trip occurred today. People often ask me about the risks associated with working in the remote field, and my contention has always been that it is safer there than in civilization. In the field, the situation is simple – we need to be concerned about weather, animals and glacier travel, plus a few things associated with camp life like tent stability and stove safety. But in civilization, there are countless potential risks – things associated with vehicles, buildings, fuels, people, etc etc. In this case, we spent the late afternoon helping Walt shuttle passengers to the airport. The weather was marginal and not good enough to land, so we stayed down at the strip encouraging the Frontier pilot circling overhead to hang out to the last possible minute as ...
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 20:12
Day 71-72: The chaos begins
After our first night’s sleep in a bed, the anticipated chaos associated with our major lidar campaign began. Nick and Jessica from Aerometric showed up in the morning in their Piper Navajo equipped with their lidar unit. The lidar is essentially a laser beam that sweeps left to right as they fly forward, measuring the distance to the ground along a swath determined by the sweep angle of the lidar. In our case, this swath is a few kilometers wide by the time it reaches the ground from 12,000 feet. As they fly, a GPS unit in the plane is used to determine their position, corrected by the ground-based GPS we deployed in the field the day before. We also deployed a few more GPS here in Kaktovik to improve these corrections and give them some preliminary data to use to ensure the day’s acq...
Calendar of Events
Fri, 07 May 2010IPY Monthly Report: May 2010
Tue, 30 Mar 2010IPY Report: April 2010
Wed, 03 Mar 2010IPY Report: March 2010
Tue, 02 Feb 2010IPY Report: February 2010
Thu, 21 Jan 2010IPY Oslo Science Conference -...
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