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Herschel Island 2013: Working on the mainland

(Photo: Landsat 5) Satellite image showing the 14 km distance from Herschel Base to the mainland polygon  (Photo: Landsat 5) Satellite image showing the 14 km distance from Herschel Base to the mainland polygon Sunday, 21st of July 2013
 
After writing this in an email to my daughters today I realize: time flies and I will be back home soon. The last days and nights were packed full of work. Two days of calm weather enabled us to take a boat trip to the mainland coast on short notice.
 
Micha, George, Isla, Louise and me (Jule) packed our stuff after a super quick moving of houses, went to a strip of mainland coast teeming with polygon mires, chose the most suitable one in record time, then surveyed the thing in a 1 x 1 m grid.
 
At a polygon size of 25 x 18 m this means we measured soil temperatures, surface elevation and thaw depth in 450 grid cells. The fact that we had time to do a rough estimation of this number must mean it was not so bad.
 
The mainland coast along workboat passage on the southern side of Herschel Island is basically a flat piece of land covered in polygon mires. Imagine a narrow strip of driftwood-covered beach, then 1-2 m up there is the plain of beautiful, soggy, cotton grass-covered ground stretching to the Brooks Range Mountains calling out for us on the southern horizon. How can we arrange it so we can go there next?
 
(Photo: B. Radosavljevic) On the left Juliane and Isla carrying out a vegetation survey, Louise measuring soil temperature and George and Michael on the right measuring surface elevation and active layer depth.(Photo: B. Radosavljevic) On the left Juliane and Isla carrying out a vegetation survey, Louise measuring soil temperature and George and Michael on the right measuring surface elevation and active layer depth.Strangely, though we could see very far, we saw very little wildlife. In fact, the only living creature we saw was a moose, and it was really far away.

At the same time, a permafrost core was drilled for Jaroš in the adjoining polygon.
 
While Isla and I did a vegetation survey along a 25 m transect the others attempted to drill a second permafrost core in the center of the now well-investigated polygon to get an idea of what happened before the upper 20 cm of peat have been accumulated.
 
After 10 hours of work this may have been a strange idea, and sure enough the core barrel got hopelessly stuck in the frozen soil.
 
During the following 2 hours of trying to get it out again, we finished the vegetation transect, and voilà, we had to come back the next day to retrieve the core barrel and I did the second transect.
 
(Photo B. Radosavljevic) The coring team trying desperately to free the core barrel stuck in the permafrost (Photo B. Radosavljevic) The coring team trying desperately to free the core barrel stuck in the permafrost Is it bad to say I am really happy about this? I do not know, but everyone else seems to be happy too. We did several days' worth of work in a very short time in a very satisfying way.
 
Now I am working in the field during the day and having fun with my data and plant identification during the night. I have seldom been happier. Are we weird?

It is nice and cold now and we usually wear every piece of clothing that we own. We are happy for the wind, because as soon as it dies down, we are surrounded by millions of mosquitoes.
 
Louise has made friends with one of the foxes from the fox den, it came really close and seemed way too interested to feel fear of any sort. It is those moments that make us take even longer to get home after a usually long day.
 
(Photo: S. Weege) Muskox visit at the vegetation survey site on Herschel Island (Photo: S. Weege) Muskox visit at the vegetation survey site on Herschel Island The muskox herd watching us surveying vegetation height and species composition in 12 long-term monitoring plots was partly making us work faster, though.
 
 
 

Written by Juliane
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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