Friday, August 26, 2011

More about work in beautious Kasitsna Bay!

So I'm in Kasitsna Bay, Alaska, and it's the end (twilight just extinguished and it's 10:50pm!) of my 21st day in this state where I'm helping to conduct research on sediment-sea-air flux of greenhouse gases and test new instrumentation and methods for these processes.  My advisor, John, and I worked with a team from USGS first and now I'm with a team from UC-Santa Cruz. 

This week I've done 2 days of surveying with our snazzy instrument that measures gases in seawater and airborne gases in realtime, about every 5 seconds.  We take the gases out of the water using a glorified showerhead in a closed cylinder and pump the headspace into the laser-based instrument (after it passes through several dryers) to be analyzed.  The ambient air goes through the instrument at the same time and our data will show what concentration of gases were in air and in the water every inch of our boat's survey path!  Pretty incredible. 

Natasha setting up on our boat docked in the bay on Tuesday a.m.

The instrument does all the work!  Once we get it on board and plumbed up and all.
 Side note:  The instrument is really complex and really expensive!!  While I thought I was doing something helpful (emptying the seawater condensor trap valve) the other night after we had docked, I almost destroyed the instrument!  3 tense hours later, the situation became less tense when John had gotten the water that got sucked into the instrument out and we flushed the instrument with purely dry gas.  Many tears were was scary for me!  But John was really nice to me after the initial shock of it all for both of us.
This is how I pictured Alaska in my wildest dreams.

We smile a lot.
Our routine is to have breakfast together at 7:30 in our own big kitchen/dining room and to hash out the day's plan.  Today for instance, I worked with Adina (our leader) and Alanna (whose dissertation project this is) on groundwater collection and filtering (for radium isotope measurements) out on the Jakolof Bay shoreline.  We drove a beat up 1970s era pickup truck over to our sites and dug holes and filled up 32-gallon cans with water from several shallow tidal bay areas.  I enjoyed sloshing through the mud in my Extratuf boots with the fresh Alaskan scenery all around.  It is a lot warmer here, but quite cloudy and drizzly sometimes--today I was only wearing a t-shirt and a rainjacket, so nice.

Have to include one of my fav things about the Pacific Northwest--Seaweed arrangements!!
Love the heart shaped ones.

Incredibly long brown seaweed!! It gets caught in our seawater pump a lot.
Silky sea lettuce

No comments:

Post a Comment