Saturday, May 21, 2005

Getting it all to work

Well, yesterday was a long one, and last night I decided it was finally time to get some sleep when I powered up my logging system to test it and saw smoke coming from the electronics box! I immediately shut everything down and checked things inside, and discovered that in my tired hurry I had connected some of the electronics back together incorrectly. Fortunately I hadn't ruined anything, as when I got up this morning to test things it all worked very nicely.

The next thing was to get it all together and bring it out to my site (about 1 km from the main camp, not far away) and make some measurements. The science technicians who'd been here last winter in the coldest part of the season had told me that they'd come up with a better vehicle for the system than the traditional snowmobile and sled, so I decided to try it out. It's called an Argo, and is an 8-wheeled amphibious all terrain vehicle that has been winterized and fitted with tracks.

The Argo.

So I loaded all of my gear into it and went out to take some measurements. It all fits in rather well:

My first task was to find the boreholes; I had flagged them well last year, and that was good, because although they each had a PVC casing that protruded several feet above the summer surface, accumulation over the winter had buried all but one below the surface. To avoid digging the whole area out, I located each casing with my avalanche probe- a thin, strong steel rod which pokes through the snow. Once I'd located and exposed the casings, I attached the extensions that I'd brought with me, so the holes will be accessible for another year.

Once this was finished, I set to work making my measurements, logs of the boreholes. My project is measuring the vertical motion of the snow, as it compacts under the weight of the new snow that continually falls. I measure the motion by lowering a video camera down the hole, where I can see the different layers the snow forms over the different years, and by measuring the depth to a particular feature from one year to the next, I can tell how much it moved. Doing this over many different features give us a complete picture of how the snow is compacting.

My next task was to train the science technicians in the new way my system operates (they will continue to make measurements throughout the winter), but this would have to wait until tomorrow. In the evening, the camp crew decided to give the cook the evening off, and camp manager Toby Wood expertly tended the grill for an excellent barbecue- thanks toby!

Toby at the grill.

that's all for this evening, more tomorrow!


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