Monday, February 23, 2015

Halfway Point Check-in

Since we have just crossed into the second half of our field campaign here in Barrow, I thought it was a good time to summarize what has occurred so far:

- Polar bear encounters: 4
Our newest polar bear friend
- Arctic fox seen: 1
- Caribou herds seen: 1
- Lowest wind chill: -55
- Snowmobile flips: 1 (ask Ellyn)
- Fingers lost: 0- Days spent out on the sea ice: 12
- Total ice cores collected: 23
- Ice cores collected and kept with their temperature gradient in tact: 8
- Ice cores collected that have now become "test" ice cores: 9
- Ice cores collected with temperature purposely not kept (control experiment): 6
- ICE-MITTs sitting outside and working as desired (each one can hold 2 cores): 5
- ICE-MITTs sitting inside and ready to go out: 4
- ICE-MITTs sitting in the hospital and awaiting new power supply: 1
- Power supplies broken: 3
"Graveyard" for ICE-MITT parts
- ICE-MITTs repaired at some point: 4/10
- Repairs to/rewiring of ICE-MITT #4 (my least favorite box): 6
- Total ICE-MITT parts now in the graveyard:7
- Middle school classrooms visited: 2
- Community potlucks attended (complete with lots of whale to eat): 2
- Hummus containers consumed: 7
- Authentic Mexican lunches eaten (new take-out restaurant in town): 12
- Dinners at Northern Lights restaurant (our favorite of the 6 restaurants in town): 9
- Nights with beautiful aurora viewings: 5
- Aurora viewing nights that ended with polar bear encounters: 2
- Bottles of alcohol consumed: classified
- Valentines Day chocolate boxes eaten: 5 (containing roughly 96 chocolates)
- Large holes cut into the sea ice: 1
- Dogs visited at the Barrow animal shelter: 5

Ellyn playing with an ICE-MUTT
And some mid-term report card grades:
Science: A-
The ICE-MITTs work! As most of my readers know, I don't really consider myself an engineer, but am faking my way through this project as a mechanical/electrical/software engineer.  Having built the ICE-MITTs personally and having essentially no time for testing prior to shipping, I put the probability of success around 20%.  Although we have had some breaks/repairs, the ICE-MITTs more or less work as intended.  I'm still afraid to say this out loud in case I jinx them.

Wildlife: B+
Polar bear encounters have been incredible, although one was a little too close for comfort (see earlier blog post on this subject).  This grade stays in the B range though until we have more fox, caribou, or seal encounters.  Obviously, whale spottings would boost this eternally to the A range, but are unlikely since we try to avoid the open water.

Outreach: A
Our first trip to the middle school was fantastic and the kids were thoroughly engaged.  Coming up, we have 2 radio shows planned, potentially a couple more events with the Barrow schools, 6 stops along our road trip home, and lots of great blogging.

Weather: C
When we arrived, sea ice conditions were pretty poor.  There were very few regions with ice thicker than 3 ft (required for our ICE-MITTs) and even open water just 1/2 mile from shore.  However, our first week or so was quite cold and the ice started to grow.  Recently though, we have had a heat wave with temperatures getting above 0 ºF.  At first glance, this seems nice for doing work outside.  Unfortunately though, here in Barrow warm temperatures usually mean strong wind with lots of blowing snow and white-out conditions.  Thus, we aren't able to even go outside this morning.  For reference, ideal weather would be temperatures around -10 ºF, no wind, and ice about 5-6 feet thick.

Ice Core Wars

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