Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snow Sampling ... aka Snow Trashing

Today was our second day of snow sampling this week. Our French snow physics expert (Florent Domine) is now in the field and has his operation set up. He dug a snow trench today and did a series of measurements of density, permeability, surface area, etc. These types of parameters are important if you are trying to figure out how chemicals in the snowpack move around due to changes in temperature, or snow crystal size and shape, etc. Once Florent's samples were taken, we got in there and dug up our own samples. Unfortunately, when you analyze for the types of pollutants we look for, you need to get a BIG snow sample. About 20 gallons of snow is one sample for us. Remember - snow is not as dense as pure water ... so if you fill a 5 gallon bucket up to the brim with snow and then let it melt ... you get back not even 2 gallons of water. Because we took such large samples, our work essentially destroyed his beautifully dug snowpit ... so I think we are now referred to as "The Snow Trashers". But, it's okay ... we made sure to wait until everyone else had their work done, then went to town digging up the pit.

Here are a few pics of the snow sampling activities:

Alexis (the body lying on the ground) relaxes while we wait for the others to finish their sampling .... AAAAHHH, Arctic Life is Good! Notice our buckets in the background ... after about an hour of sampling, these will be filled with snow.

Didier Voisin (another Frenchman!!!!) samples from the deep end of the snow trench.

After a couple hours outside at -15F or so ... you get a little frosty. Notice my eyelashes and the little bit of my hair that was sticking out from under my hat ...

And this is what we get when we're all done ... buckets and buckets of snow ... they get sealed up, and sit in our lab here at Barrow to melt. Then, we extract the polluants out of the melted water and ship those extracts home to Villanova to analyze. That will be how Alexis spends her summer!

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