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Herschel Island 2013: Night owls

(Photo: S. Weege) Boris checking out the southern part of the slump.(Photo: S. Weege) Boris checking out the southern part of the slump.Monday, 8th of July 2013
 
Hello night owls,

It is past 1 am, and we just finished having dinner. We are now on real "Herschel time", having lost track of both the day of the week and the time of the day. Typically breakfast is at 11 am, and lunch around 6 pm. tonight we planned the field work schedule for the next three weeks, and now it is time for a late card game with the two rangers Sam and Edward.

I wish today would be one a sauna night to get rid of all the mud. We don´t have a shower here, so a hot sauna and a quick jump into the sea surrounded by sea ice would be tempting now, too.
 
It was a very successful day in the field for my research, all while battling rain, strong winds, and really chilly temperatures. Everyone helped me a lot at my field site, the huge retrogressive thaw slump on the coast.

(Photo: B. Radosavljevic) Stefanie and Juliane walking along the slump headwall.(Photo: B. Radosavljevic) Stefanie and Juliane walking along the slump headwall.For those of you who are unfamiliar with talks of slumps and mud, just check out the last year´s blog. For those that would like to know it now, here is a brief summary.
 
The slump is a massive, 500 m wide and 40 m high ice headwall, with lots of sediment in it. As the ice-rich headwall retreats up to 10 m every year landward, it leaves behind a massive mud pool that drains through several big mud channels into the ocean.
 
In one of these channels we placed a metal frame that is measuring the water discharge. We also placed an automatic water sampler there to estimate how much ice, sediment and organic carbon is going into the ocean due to thawing of the permafrost.
 
While some of the group was busy installing and instrumenting the flow channel, others installed two time-lapse cameras to record the snowpack retreat from the headwall, which it is still protecting it from thawing.
 
(Photo: I. Myers-Smith) Setting up the weather station on top of the slump.(Photo: I. Myers-Smith) Setting up the weather station on top of the slump.Additionally we set up a weather station on top of the slump to measure temperature, solar radiation, precipitation, and wind speed. I am glad there were five helpers to carry everything up the hill.
 
Unfortunately one of the weather station loggers broke due to a little mistake on our side, but c'est la vie, and I will try make do with the other data. I will also try to use an alternate source of energy via USB cable. Hopefully that will work out.
 
One of the greatest successes today is actually that Jule found the loose screw on my automatic water sampler, what we have installed in one of the mud channels. Now it should have no problems with its six hour sampling rhythm, without the need for me to stay out there for the next three weeks.
 
You might wonder why I just talk about everyone helping me on my research project. It has been all hands on deck to set up my field site as quick as possible.
 
(Photo: J. Wolter) Looking at the meltwater disappearing in the subsurface in a cave within the massive ice (Photo: J. Wolter) Looking at the meltwater disappearing in the subsurface in a cave within the massive ice. My hope is to monitor the slump activity over our entire stay, in order to get the longest time series possible. From now on, we will be juggling a number of tasks such as core drilling of permafrost cores in the tundra for Jaroš, and working with Isla and Louise to measure the "shrubification" of Herschel Island.
 
Boris will also start working on setting up his interferometric sidescan sonar and the seismic sub-bottom profiler on the boat to start surveying the near shore waters. My work focus will be on maintaining the weather station and flume channel, and helping the others to get their samples and data.

But now it is almost 2 am, and the Herschel gang is sitting around the table as Isla draws the events of the past few days, including the much speculated mysterious bottomless pit that has appeared in the slump, and what may be living inside it... the drawing might become a new expedition logo perhaps.
 
I will have a look at drawing and finally go to bed with the midnight sun.
 
Have a good night!

Written by: Stefanie, Louise, and Boris
 
 
 
 
 
 
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