Play on

The last few days have been quite busy, but productive. However, none of the tasks I managed to get done sounds particularly spectacular: comparison of moss moisture measurement techniques, small-scale mapping, and taking photographs of polygons. Neither do they look particularly spectacular (at least to the untrained eye). I thus refrain from posting any pictures of these activities, but rather leave you with some impressions from the Lena Delta, upon which autumn has been falling; slowly, silently, much like the snow it is inexorably going to give way to.

Simon

Kurugnakh
Kurugnakh
Samoylov
Samoylov

Into thin air

The days since the last post have been busy (as usual, but not business as usual). On Monday we had a little party, as it was the last evening of the expedition for the majority of the participants, as well as my birthday. Thanks again to Julia, Biggi and Antje for all the preparations and the organization!

Yesterday we set up two new soil moisture stations in the South of Kurugnakh: they are in immediate vicinity of one another. One is located on the rim (i.e. the more elevated, exterior part) of a polygon, the other one in a more depressed and moist zone. The rationale behind this arrangement is that this enables us to get an idea about the variablity of the moss moisture, as well as its temporal dynamics, within one polygon. These spatial differences of the moisture have an impact on the measurements that satellite-borne radar sensors make. The nature of this impact (e.g. the magnitude) depends on the type of sensor used (an important factor being e.g. the spatial resolution). The in-situ moss data recorded by our stations are intended to help us to improve our understanding of these influences, and thus also the interpretation of the satellite data and the products derived from them.

Today we had to move quite a bit of equipment from one island to another one; this is hard work, as you can see here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

my first selfie, with Matthias
my first selfie, with Matthias

Soil moisture measurements, polygons and more

On Monday and Wednesday Birgit, Annett and I attended to several soil/moss moisture stations in Kurugnakh: we checked the local conditions as well as the state of the instruments. We had to remove one of them, or rather its remains, as the lemmings had apparently taken a liking to its cables. We also measured moisture with a hand-held probe along several transects. All of these data are required for understanding, assessing and improving satellite-derived soil moisture products over high-latitude regions.

Annett attending to one of the stations
Annett attending to one of the stations

On Tuesday we stayed on Samoylov: I took dozens of pictures of an ice wedge polygon. The aim of this work will be to derive the microtopography of such polygons and, by combining data from different dates, to detect and quantify changes. The first results seem promising, so I shall be taking quite a few more pictures in the weeks to come. I also joined Julia and Steffen to measure water depths in a pond and we took samples of dwarf birches. This gave me the opportunity to become more familiar with the island, and even intimate with the (presumably) only larch tree:

Simon has found a friend: the larch on Samoylov. Picture by Julia Boike.
Simon has found a friend: the larch on Samoylov. Picture by Julia Boike.

Tonight, we have all been looking for naked women. Rest assured that we have done so assiduously, but, alas, we have not found any so far. All we know is that they are supposed to be – according to an email I received a few hours ago – in this very same blog, in adverts at the bottom of the page. We will keep you posted!

Simon

Arrival in Samoylov

We have finally arrived in Samoylov! We got here on Friday afternoon, after a five-hour boat trip from Tiksi, which we had reached by plane from Moscow (with a slight delay of 18-odd hours).

Our lovely blue boat being pushed into the water in Tiksi
Our lovely blue boat being pushed into the water in Tiksi

The following day we boarded the boat again, this time to go to Kurugnakh Island, where we spent all day exploring the ice complex and the thermokarst lakes. While Annett and Birgit were retrieving the recorded data from several automatic measurement stations, I managed to take more than 2400 pictures of the shoreline of one of the thermokarst lakes. The photos will later be processed later, with the aim of deriving a three-dimensional model of the shoreline. They were taken from a small boat: Julia is a consummate and tireless paddler! I am also very grateful to her for pointing out and explaining so many features and processes to me. My first day was thus an exceedingly satisfying one, even more so as I had – my first taste of Russian sociability .

Julia paddling towards the makeshift moorage
Julia paddling towards the makeshift moorage