euro1   71

Herschel Island 2013: Isolated Life on an Island

(Photo S. Weege) Polygon field at the Yukon Coast. Scroll down to see description of the development of ice wedge polygons and their degradation states.  (Photo S. Weege) Polygon field at the Yukon Coast. Scroll down to see description of the development of ice wedge polygons and their degradation states. Sunday, 21st of July 2013
 
What a morning. Imagine you have already spent 17 days on an island with eight colleagues, two rangers and no other human interaction. You develop your own little world.
 
Next thing you know you find yourself waking up to 13 unknown uniformed people standing around your outdoor breakfast table, taking pictures of you and your team mates in your zombie fieldwork look or still in your pajamas.

After waking up we started to realize that our newly adopted island home has become a practice ground for the Royal Canadian Mountain Police, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Navy for the next two days.
 
But apart from that first surprise meeting we hardly notice their presence. They are functioning on non-island time, early wake up at 6 am, while we are stuck to Herschel time with finishing work around midnight and going to bed at around 4am.

(Photo U. Bastian) Ricky and Lee-John taking Ute and Stefanie to the field site on the other side of the bay (Photo U. Bastian) Ricky and Lee-John taking Ute and Stefanie to the field site on the other side of the bay We moved from two cabins into just 'our' new scientist's cabin. Nine people on about 36 meters square. That means it is now a bit more cosy, and thoughts of sardines in a can crossed my mind. However, we still have the luxury of three bunk beds and three additional single mattresses.
 
Camping outside simply is not an option due to the potential nightly visits from our nosy brown fury friends checking out what we are up to.

Juliane has her most important field day today. She will sample a Polygon on the mainland which is a special permafrost feature.
 
Her aim is to find out more about climate history of the last thousands of years by analyzing the soil and the ancient pollen trapped in it and by looking at the recent vegetation cover around it.
 
(Photo: S.Weege) Surprise visit at breakfast time on little isolated Herschel Island (Photo: S.Weege) Surprise visit at breakfast time on little isolated Herschel Island To get seven people and all the necessary equipment to the mainland on 'Christine', our boat, a calm day like today is necessary. The boat ride will probably take more than an hour one way, followed by several hours of fieldwork.

While the majority of the team spends today helping out with Juliane's research at the Polygon, Ute and I were lucky to get a boat ride to my field site from our much loved and appreciated rangers Lee-John and Ricky. Usually the walk into my site takes over two hours one way.

Getting to the site, we had rough surf. The beach was too exposed and the swell too large to leave the boat anchored at the beach so that Ricky had to wait for us just off shore.
 
We hurried to the site and changed all the water sample bottles and battery as well as downloaded all data in a record time of less than 20 minutes. Lee-John was at the ridge looking out for bears and searching for bear tracks.
 
(Photo: U. Bastian) Stefanie decanting water samples into smaller bottles to be taken to Germany (Photo: U. Bastian) Stefanie decanting water samples into smaller bottles to be taken to Germany Luckily the weather station was still up and running in a good bear-safe spot in the middle of the mud pool. When we returned to the landing spot, I felt so sorry for Ricky.
 
He was in a tough position holding on tightly to the rope on the boat, as the anchor rope had ripped off. We pushed the boat off the shore to be confronted by large waves.
 
I can tell you those two are tough! They got completely saturated and still were smiling and incredibly friendly!
 
Lucky for us to have two amazingly experienced and helpful men looking out for us and that the boat did not leave the shoreline without us.

It is now midnight and it will most likely still take a while before the rest of the crew will return, and we can enjoy dinner together, tonight prepared by our very own master-chef Ute.

Just now Lee-John is on the radio checking on our boat to make sure, that everyone will come home safely tonight! "Christine, Christine, do you copy? Here, Herschel Base." We are so lucky to have the rangers here on our side.
 
They make our lives so much easier with their experience and them checking on us every couple of hours with their much larger, permanently installed radio antenna while we are carrying out our fieldwork.

"Herschel Base, Herschel Base. Here Christine. Here everything looks fine. Wind is calming down and mosquitoes are coming. We will be back at about 2am, Christine Standing by."
 
Click here to see the development of ice wedge polygons and their degradation states. 
 
 
Share