Monday, April 13, 2009

"Serious Science"

This past Saturday, April 11th we all went out for a lovely afternoon watching a middle school IM volleyball tournament and Hopson Middle School. Then, Sam, Tony and I got a ride from the middle school prinicipal to NARL (National Arctic Research Lab) - which is a name for the area partially connected to our living quarters at Ilisagvik College. Every Saturday, the scientists that are in town give a talk open to the community on the projects they are working on here in Barrow. We decided we would check it out.

It was in the brand new science building behind Ilisagvik and they offered great snacks for the talk. The talk was on oil spills in the Arctic and it was very understandable. They presenter talked about the things that they need to consider in the case of an oil spill, different clean-up methods and described what they were working on for their project here. They were study some types of organismz that live under the ice and how they would be affected by oil spills. From there they can predict what might happen to the rest of the food web and surrounding environment.

Then Steve Hastings the senior scientist of NARL (we are friends, we always see him in the dining hall) gave us a tour of the building and showed us the different rooms that each experiment/study is for. There was some laser beam thing, the freezers where they are studying the oil spill organisms, and the archeology room where they are excavating the point (navuk) with local college and high school students. That one is really cool. Barrow Point is slowly going underwater (probably due to global warming), so they need to work fast to excavate the graves, fossils and history. Steve then took us out to the “trailers” where they were doing some sort of eco-physics project. It was the coldest moment I had ever experienced here in Barow. It was about a 3 minute walk, but we had to go over huge snowdrifts created by the wind which also made it really cold. It was surely a true taste of the tundra. The scientists in the trailers explained what they were doing there and Steve described the project as “This is serious science.” Coming from the senior scientist at the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, I'm pretty sure we witnessed something really cool and quite a big deal. To be honest, we really could not understand what they were really doing there. You can look at the picture and let me know if you can tell!

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