Hello! Welcome to my blog. Please join me on my expedition!
Layer 1: thin silk thermal shirt
Last night two of my Earthwatch buddies and I were the first to try out our newly built igloo. I was soooooo nervous about being cold, so I brought a few things to add heat to my sleeping bag... a water bottle filled with hot water and a freshly baked potato. I know, it sounds crazy, but did I mention that I was nervous? I also got to sleep in the middle because I was the shortest and that is where the igloo entrance was located. I didn't mind because it meant maximum body heat and minimum chances of snuggling up with a block of ice. To enter the igloo, there was a tunnel dug underground so you had to crawl under and up to get inside. That also allowed a low spot in the igloo for cold air to sink into. We lined the bottom of the igloo with caribou hides for insulation and a vent hole in the "ceiling" provided for ventilation. It was surprisingly warm inside, once I crawled into my -40 rated sleeping bag. (That rating is for survival, not comfort!) But I was quite comfortable. My spud was pretty useless, but the water bottle provided warmth the entire night. I had the mummy sack cinched tight around my face and my hat pulled down over my nose. At one point in the night I reached up to touch my nose because I could no longer feel it. That is when I pulled my hat down over it. In the morning, there was a ring of ice around the opening of my bag from my breath freezing! I am quite tired today, so even though I slept alot, it must have taken alot of energy for my body to stay warm.
Well, the igloo was finished today and tonight I'm sleeping in it! I'm really nervous!!! It may be the coldest night of my life! :) The way an igloo is built is quite fascinating! It is truly an amazing design... something we should get the physics teachers to build in class! It's all about angles and pressure. Anyway, we are not skilled Inuits, so ours is not quite airtight. It may be a drafty night! We will put caribou skins on the floor to act as insulation, of course topped with the modern technology of a thermarest! :) Three of us will fit in there at a time. Many people in our group wanted to sleep in the igloo, but not on the first night. So, I'm being a brave (did I mention I'm nervous?) first volunteer. If you don't hear from me again, it's been great knowing you...
I have never been this dehydrated in my life! I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think is that I can't have my usual cup of morning coffee. I turn my head to the side when I walk by the water fountain. I'm thirsty all the time... But I am TERRIFIED of having to go to the bathroom in the field!!! Did I mention how cold it is here? Or how many layers I wear daily??? There are so many details in field work that you have no control over... The weather. The wind chill. The site itself... Check out the video I made prior to my trip - a trial run of all of my layers. This is what I go through twice each day!
Today we went to two sites again, one before lunch and one after. The morning one was a peat polygonal. We dug one snow pit in the wedge between the peat. The snow there is deep with an ice core underneath. Look up peat polygonals online and find out what will happen to them as the climate continues to heat up. What will happen to the peat and what will that then do to the climate? (Part A of today's challenge)
We then did two snow pits on top of the peat itself, on either side of the wedge. On the peaks the snow was only about 6 cm deep! Actually the shallow pits are more difficult than the deeper ones! It is a challenge to measure the density and hardness of the layers when they are so thin.
After lunch we went to a wooded area. My group's first sample site was between several trees. One person started digging and two of us started coring. The core sampler is 150 cm tall, which is about 5 feet. When I pushed it into the snow I almost did a face plant! It went down 137 cm! You can imagine how long it took us to dig to the bottom of our pit? We actually had to dig steps into the snow because other wise we couldn't get back out. And then we had to take temperature readings every 5 cm! Wow...it was a little different than our morning site!
Oh, that reminds me of one of your questions! One of you asked why we take so many core samples. In science, the more samples you have, the better your results. You will be able to see trends more clearly, AND you will be able to see mistakes, or outliers, more easily. If you have 100 samples and one of them is totally out of range of the others, you can be sure it was a mistake. (Maybe some untrained volunteer did not know how to use the tool.) If you have only five samples and one is really different, you may think that it is a normal occurrence. Think of that when you are doing your field research! The more times you go to your site to collect data, the easier it will be for you to make conclusions when you analyze your results! See how I look out for you? :)
Part B of your blog challenge for today is to create a hypothesis about snow layers. In one of our pits, the layer closest to the ground was not very dense, with lots of air in between the layers. It was about 10 cm thick. Above that was a more dense layer with smaller snowflakes, about 14 cm thick. Above that was a thin layer of very dense, almost ice-like, snow...maybe 1 cm thick. It was topped with 1 cm of light fluffy snow. Create a hypothesis about WHY the layers had different densities. What could have been happening as the snow came down, as time went by, etc. Remember, the bottom snow is the oldest. :) Create a diagram labelling each layer, with your explanation next to it to turn in to Ms. Duffy. Respond to me with bullets explaining your layers, with the bottom as Layer 1, working your way up to Layer 4. This challenge is due on Friday. Talk to you tomorrow! Please come with some good questions for me!!! :)
Today has been our first full day in the field. We set out about 9AM in about -33 degrees C (wind shield -42C) with out tools to measure everything you ever wanted to know about snow. Obviously, the secret is in the layering and making sure that no skin is exposed during transit on the snow mobile. We surveyed two different sites, a polygonal peat plateau and a tundra site. Both had relatively shallow snow cover (up to 40 cm, Canadians do everything metric so I am counting on you to convert temperatures and distances.) but we were fully exposed to wind and sun, which can be quite strong. I had no idea there were so many types of snow!!! The process is not that complicated but it takes time and a great deal of attention to detail. It really is a skill to tell various layers of snow apart. I added a picture with some of the snow categories for the unbelievers out there.
Somehow the topic of climate change has become a political issue. In order to become a good citizen, you need to learn to separate science from bias and opinion. So let's explore a bit of where the bias might have come from and see if we can focus on the science...
Blog Challenge 2:
Churchill sits on the edge of the Hudson Bay. Do a little research on Hudson Bay and tell me:
If you were me, what is one thing you would be sure to see while you were in Churchill? What should I take pictures of?
Have fun! Keep counting down...