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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tundra, Sea Ice & Wolf Tracks...Oh My!!!

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.

After our tundra sampling, we took the snowmobiles out onto the sea ice on Hudson Bay! We trekked onto the bay to see a ship wreck. Check out the wreck and the thrust up pieces of ice. Below is a picture of a crack in the sea ice with wolf tracks running across. The tracks were probably made last night by the male wolf, who is hanging around for the female we saw a few days ago...

Tonight we had a lecture on climate change and it was interesting to see how the data we have collected is being used in the studies.

One thing that has become very clear is that people up here spend a very large amount of time eating. Breakfast (at 6:45), lunch (12) and dinner (5:30) all consist of enormous amounts of high calorie food. I also have a backpack full of snacks because the calories keep you warm in the field. I guess beach season up here is pretty short...though today while I was lying on the snow to photograph a really cool snow WAVE I was accused of sunbathing!


At February 17, 2009 at 9:51 PM , Anonymous 5-Katie Murray said...

1. Anthropogenic changes on an ecosystem are human activities that change the environment. An example of this would be burning fossil fuels, using a lot of energy in our daily lives, etc.

2. What have you discovered so far in researching anthropogenic changes on the ecosystem? Are we affecting the world’s climate as much as everyone thinks we do?

At February 18, 2009 at 6:31 AM , Anonymous 2-Ryan Riggs said...

is it possible to get sunburnt up there even though the temperature is so cold?

At February 18, 2009 at 12:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Erica:
It's Steve and Anita in San Clemente...your old neighbors...read about you in the Sunpost and are following your blog...HOW COOL IS YOUR JOB!!!!!!!!
take care kiddo and we look forward to following your adventures...


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