| Winter has arrived
in northern Alaska - this view from the plane shows the Brooks
Range covered in snow.
Click to enlarge|
Dispatch 01 - September 10, 2003
By C. A. Linder
Weather conditions: Overcast skies, 25 mph winds, air temperature
Three Seasons in One Day
"... don't attempt to walk to the hotel from the airport - danger
of polar bears..."
You know you're in for adventure when those are your travel instructions!
Our science party has now assembled in Barrow, Alaska. At 340 miles
north of the Arctic Circle, it's the most northerly city in the United
States. We are here awaiting our helicopter transfer to the icebreaker
USCGC Healy (scheduled for tomorrow, September 11th). Our
diverse group of scientists and technicians has come from all over
the USA - Massachusetts, New York, California, Washington, and Alaska
(see the science crew page for
details). In the nearly two days it has taken us to get to this remote
outpost, it feels like we have passed through summer, fall, and winter.
I left Boston wearing shorts and sandals. As our plane descended into
the Fairbanks, Alaska airport, the tundra was alive with the reds
and yellows of autumn foliage. As we touched down at Barrow's tiny
airport, a 25 mph blast of 35 degree air hit me in the face. Welcome
Today we had our first science planning meeting.
All of our eyes are on the weather right now. The wind is howling
outside the windows of our hotel, and six foot waves are crashing
on the beach. Tomorrow at 7:30AM, the Healy's pilots are
scheduled to begin flying the ship's two HH-65A Dolphin helicopters
to Barrow to pick us up and bring us out to the ship (Barrow has no
deep water port, so the ship can't just pick us up here in the town). Once
the science party and our 6,000 pounds of equipment are aboard, the
cruise can begin in earnest.
| Our accomodations
in Barrow - the NARL hotel, part of the Barrow Arctic Science
Click to enlarge|
During the afternoon, we explored our surroundings. Barrow is home
to 4,500 residents, mostly Inupiat Eskimo. Aside from the US Post
Office, you would never guess you are still in the United States.
The Inupiat have their own language and rich cultural history. Not
many tourists venture this far north, and our large group was certainly
a curiosity. We didn't venture too far from the safety of our vans,
however, since the polar bear warning was very real. Today two bears
were spotted in the town, but the townspeople managed to chase them
off. News like that certainly makes you look both ways before you
step out of the hotel door!
| Ominous dark waves
roll in from the Arctic Ocean.
This year I won't be alone writing these dispatches...
I'll have help from some very creative young scientists - including
elementary school students from Varnum Brook Elementary School in
Pepperell, Massachusetts and the Morse Pond School in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
In addition to their questions I will also entertain questions from
the general public - join the adventure by sending me an email at
do my best to find answers to your questions about the Arctic Ocean,
polar research, or what we're having for lunch on the icebreaker.
Let the journey begin!
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