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July 23, 2012

Alaska Summer School Part 1

Lots of new photos from Alaska...So amazing to be up in the world's greatest wilderness.

Welcome to University of Alaska, Fairbanks

I sincerely owe many people a debt of thanks for getting to make this trip to Alaska. My gracious host was the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF).

Getting There is half the fun

The flight out of Denver at sunset was totally amazing. The sun was setting for the evening but as I traveled North and West, the sun continued to rise until I arrived in Fairbanks in total daylight 5 hours after seeing the Denver sunset.

International Arctic Research Center

This is the building where the International Arctic Research Center is housed and where I am taking my class for the Alaska Summer School.

Ground Penetrating Radar Device

As part of the class we got to go in the field to make some ground penetrating radar measurements. It's a much smaller device than I would have imagined, but very exciting all the same. ("It's not the size of the instrument" joke seemed to obvious and I don't think I know everyone well enough to riff on "penetrating" so I just tried to be mature)

Ground Penetrating Radar Pull

You pull the little thing along the ground and the attached monitor shows you real time what's underground. "Water flowing underground..This is not my life...How did I get here?" We are looking at the permafrost underneath us in this experiment. It's about a meter down (roughly). Molly didn't pose for this picture, she's really just that interested.

It takes a team

Normally you don't get to have 7 scientists surveying all at once, but in this case we had a whole team of people taking the measurements.

Organic Layer

The permafrost persists through the warm summer because this very thick layer of organic material insulates the ground and maintains the necessary freezing conditions. It's also really spongy to walk on.

Depth Probe

You can find the depth of the permafrost by jamming this long metal probe into the Earth until you hit the ice. The probe won't penetrate the ice so you know how deep it is. Again, my maturity level was tested; you can write your own caption.

Soil Layers

We also dug up a column of dirt to see what the makeup of the soil was like. We used this auger to pull our the soil and stacked the samples in the tray. This column of soil you see here is about half a meter.

Group Project Team

As part of the school, we have group projects and this is my team at our observation location. This is the kind of shot that Facebook really handles well because I can tag everyone. It's up on my Facebook too so if you're interested in these peeps, check there. I don't like giving out names on my website.

Bike's Eye View

Our group project site is surrounded by all these wonderful flowers. This flower (on the far left, in focus and purple) is totally my favorite flower ever. It's called the Fireweed, so you know the pyro in my likes that and it basically acts as an hourglass for summer. The flower continues to bloom up the stem as the summer goes on and when this flower is in the full bloom, you know the summer is over. Right now, you can see that summer is half over, or you have half of it left depending on where you stand on optimism.

Yay! Birdhouses

"And while you're at it, leave the nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul."

Fairbanks, AK Smith Lake

This is our site without any people in the way.

Recycle Bike

I love this campus! There's even a person that rides around like a sustainability vigilante recycling things that people throw away. Kind of my hero.

Red Squirrel

These cute little red squirrels are all over campus.

Any Fool

Once again I have proven that, in some locations, any fool with a camera can take a nice shot. This moose cow was posing in a small pond off the road and my friends stopped for a photo shoot. She's so pretty! I have lots more shots of her, but this is all you get for now.

Wandering Calf Moose

Farther on down the road we spotted another moose cow, this time with a little baby. The moose calf wandered off a bit and the momma called it back.

Moose Calf

The calf was kind a rebel and didn't want to go back, but it didn't wander too far.

Mother and Calf

Finally here they are close up, momma munching and baby frolicking. I really liked this one so I'm providing a link to a higher rez version if you are interested.