As experience working in Alaska often proves true, it’s best to expect the unexpected. The snowless landscape viewed from my airplane window confirms reports of an early spring this year as I touchdown in Fairbanks, but I certainly never anticipated snowless, 60 degree weather here in May. Although the locals gleefully embrace the unusually mild and balmy weather, I feel an apprehensive sense of foreboding, having planned our spring field research around using snow machines to stage our fish tracking antennas and remote field camps. Still, Fairbanks lies well South of the Arctic, where the Toolik Field Station’s Environmental Data Center webcam still shows 95% snow cover around the Toolik Lake area. Fingers crossed that the snow lasts until Cameron MacKenzie and I can reach the North Slope!
First order of business, pick up the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program’s truck, aptly named The Husky, from the Institute of Arctic Biology’s logistics office located on the University of Alaska campus. The Husky’s road dust encrusted interior and multiply cracked windshield reflects an urgent exodus from last year’s busy field season. Looks like I’m adding “Replace Windshield” to my Fairbanks To Do list!
Message from Cam: Got stopped at customs. Need TN visa! Give me a call when you get in.
Lord forbid we should let some sketchy Canadian researcher cross into the U.S.! Looks like I’m on my own for a bit until Cam sort’s out his visa.
First view of the Alaskan snow-free landscape.
Add “Replace Truck Windshield” to the while-in-Fairbanks To Do list.
Whimsical apartment buildings along a main stretch of highway.
Crossing the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks