Weather today kept us in the tent all morning. Everyone was pretty snowy and icy last night and we couldn’t get the generator running for any heat in the tent so we all piled into our bags with a lot of wet gear to dry out.
Body heat inside a well insulated sleeping bag is an amazing thing. A nice steady stream of warm damp air comes out all night, and voila dry clothes in the morning – well almost dry so we stayed in listening to the wind flap on the tent walls, each happy that no one else seemed to be stirring enough to require getting up.
Water management, it turns out, is a lot of what we do camping in the cold. Drying the water out of our clothes is only part of the issue. With the high altitude it’s easy to get dehydrated, but it’s hard to keep water liquid long enough to drink. Water bottle insulators, tea aplenty, and a horse trough heater inside a
Gatorade jug are all along as tools to help keep liquid water available and us drinking it. Mike also does a good job of handing me his thermos lid full periodically when I forget to come in from working on the station. Building the station went well, particularly with the tent set up right next to our assembly so that many of the
smaller tasks could be done in out of the wind. Halfway through the day we got the generator started and inside the tent became more than cozy! A 750 Watt space heater will bring the inside of an Arctic oven up about 40-50 degrees above the outside temperature – pure pleasure for small hand tasks with cold pieces of metal.
Outside with the wind pretty well dying down we assembled the rest of the parts, working a few hours into the evening. Though we’ll have to wait for confirmation that the transmissions are working from home tomorrow, we’re pretty sure we’ve got a fully operational weather and solar radiation monitoring station. The stations use a bare-bones satellite transmitter to send text messages of data in to a gmail account – amazing technology.
If all goes according to plan we’ll put out 4 more stations just like these, and the stations will provide real time updates to us for the next couple years. The data will be fed into weather forecast models and used in our research to better understand how sunlight absorption on the Greenland ice sheet is changing.The messages contain information like wind speed (7.8 knots), air temperature (-32C), and humidity (60%) one would expect to find on a weather station. Sensors specifically for our research project will tell us how much solar radiation is falling on the surface, and how much is reflected. Better still, these sensors will break down the light into its different wavelengths (or colors). This information helps us tell what processes are responsible for the changes in ice sheet reflectivity.
For example, lower reflectivity in the near-infrared means that grain size is increasing.
We hear from a quick call home that wild leeks are out in the forests of Vermont. Our dinner of annie’s mac n cheese, caribou sausage, peas, and mamma-chris made coffee cake was pretty good, but we still itched for some wild leeks!