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September 9, 2020
Orange trees in the Alaska Range
While wandering middle Alaska this summer, I noticed orange spruce trees along the entire length of the Denali Highway, from Paxson to Cantwell. In what looked like a dendrological case of frostbite, tips of every branch were afflicted with something. The real show happened when the wind blew: An entire valley glowed apricot. After the wind died, a Tang-like orange powder floated on rivers and puddles. It was as if someone had pepper-sprayed the Denali Highway.
August 17, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 55
Our days lately have been strange. Searching around the ice in dense fog. It’s so hard to see anything, and especially some of these small buoys we’ve been hunting. But today was a beautiful day. Bluebird conditions again. And it started out with a great bear.
August 16, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 54
With the rapid decline of the MOSAiC floe in its last days, I became increasingly concerned about the stability of the L2 site and our flux sled there. A few weeks ago it was 7 nautical miles away, then over a couple days this ballooned up to 45 nautical miles.
August 15, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 53
…things were quite different today. Basically no floe left. Instead just a collection of small pieces of ice. Fractured remnants of our home for the past 6.5 weeks. Little memories of Met City, the Transect, the Fortress, and all of the rest. Now all gone. What impeccable timing!
August 14, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 52
The decision to pull things back on board was a good one, as the floe is becoming increasingly unstable. I felt the movement myself as I jumped from one chunk to the next. We can no longer operate or realistically move equipment on the ice any more.
August 13, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 51
Wow? The end of an era. This highly successful relationship we’ve had with the MOSAiC ice floe is now starting to come to an end. It feels strange to me. I’ve actually been in a pretty bad mood because of it. Done too soon.
August 11, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 49
On the far side of the floe is a chunk of old ice, riddled with stones everywhere. I have no idea how there could be so many embedded in the ice. Then the transect loops back around to the First Year Ice side, where the ice is generally thinner and the coastline has eroded significantly over time leading to an ever-evolving interface with the open water. On that side there are some fantastic drainage channels…. Basically rivers that drain a complex network of ponds further inland.
August 10, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 48
Strange ice crystal formations everywhere, glistening in the sun. Standing there and looking out across the surface I felt like I was in the slickrock of the Utah desert. They have similarly eroded and curved surfaces, with layers and sculptured forms that only nature can create.
August 9, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 47
It’s getting hard to keep track as there have been so many bears lately. Visits in the evening-to-early-morning going into last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then here again last night (Monday). And this morning at 4:30 am.
August 8, 2020
Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 46
The real highlight of the evening for me was the group photo time prior to the festivities. We set up a line of flags, the 20 flags of MOSAiC nations, all strung next to each other. This was placed just beyond a scenic melt pond. In front of that pond we put the big MOSAiC flag, held tight on some boards.