August 28, 2006
Today we took the day off from collecting since we were on the boat until about 2:30AM. The scientists spent the day, back at the Barrow Arctic Research Consortium (BASC) facilities, working on computers, looking through microscopes and other instruments sorting through the data and the samples collected yesterday afternoon. While they were busy I had time look around.
BASC is situated in an almost two-dimensional plane. To the northwest is the Chukchi Sea, the flat horizon line miles away. The only thing separating BASC from the beach is the dirt road leading the two miles or so to Barrow. Looking to the south, in the foreground one sees a few power lines and a cold war era DEW Line facility. But beyond that, as far as one can see is flat tundra with no vertical dimension, not even trees. The boggy, lake-peppered tundra is now turning crimson and brown in anticipation of winter. In the morning it sparkles with frost.
This afternoon I went with Bill and Mike to get some supplies for the boat. One of our stops was at the NAPA auto parts store in town. There are not very many auto parts stores where you can buy a handheld harpoon-whaling gun.
As I am typing this Carin came in and said that she just received a report a polar bear was seen nearby yesterday. Last week one was shot in Barrow and a grizzly has also been seen wandering around recently. Here in the BASC facility there are plenty of signs warning of the dangers of bears. I sure hope I get to see one.
Question of the day: What is permafrost?