Sunday, March 8, 2009

Live from Barrow ... It's Saturday Night!

... and excitement abounds ... (that must be obvious, since I'm sitting here at 1:30 am writing up a blog entry!)

Today was a somewhat productive day, although it doesn't feel much like it, as the fruits of our labor aren't readily apparent just now. We did a bit of lab cleanup, changed out a gas tank on our instrument (which required carting large gas cylinders between buildings), cleaned our snow sampling containers, and various other random tasks. I spent a better portion of the afternoon getting snow sampling containers ready for shipment to Umiat, Alaska. One of the guys working for BASC is taking a couple weeks to trek (via snowmachine) from Barrow to Umiat, almost 200 miles SE, for hunting. After a random conversation in the hallway he offered to do some snow sampling for us, which is great, as there would be no way for us to get a sample from that type of area. It is much farther inland and any samples from there will be great for comparison to what we are measuring in Barrow.

Umiat is actually not a town or village, as it has no permanent residents per se. It is a "camp" of sorts and fuel stop for aircraft operating in the area. But after a couple phone calls and emails, we managed to coordinate with a weekly charter flight from Barrow to Umiat ... today I dropped off our sampling materials and they'll be shipped down to Umiat on Monday. Then, our hunter friend (aka snow sampler) will pick up the materials when he arrives, do the snow sampling, then send them on the next charter flight back to Barrow. THEN we'll finally see the fruits of the mission, when we get to process all the snow that we hope makes it back safely.

Another interesting photo opportunity arose this afternoon. A balloon is being used at the OASIS measurement site that allows for sampling of different chemicals in the atmosphere. Very long inlet lines that connect to various instruments get tethered to the balloon, along with sampling containers that can sample at various heights. Using the balloon (and the instruments doing the measurements), scientists working here will be able to determine how the behavior and concentrations of different chemicals change with height in the atmosphere. Here is a cool picture I took, showing the balloon in the sky, around 4 pm on Saturday, with the moon.

This evening we spent a nice evening eating out at Brower's Cafe. An international contingent went to dinner including Americans, Canadians, Austrians, Germans and someone from Jersey. :)

The day concluded quite nicely with a (somewhat subdued) showing of the Northern Lights. After some fiddling with my camera (exposure times and such), I was able to capture a few images ... but these certainly don't do the aurora justice. I'm hoping for a more "spectacular" show, as I think I can get a lot better pictures. But these will have to do for now.

And that ... is a Saturday night in Barrow ...

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