First things first, please click on 'Subscribe to Journals by Email' on my official PolarTREC virtual basecamp page. I will be primarily posting there moving forward. Thank you!
Tomorrow, if everything was going as it was only 3 weeks ago, I would be embarking on an adventure of a lifetime with a science expedition team to place real-time weather buoys on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. We would be making it possible for satellites to transmit observation data through the atmosphere at incredibly high speeds to then tell a master computer what the current conditions of the Arctic Ocean are every few minutes. These observations of the natural world, in such a far remote locations, are critical to crafting weather forecasts, informing marine ship captains, understanding climate change, and helping native people who live within the Arctic Circle with daily weather forecasts that ultimately influence their livelihoods of whaling and living on and from the sea.
Instead, I'm working to submit this week's natural world observation data here from my neighborhood through a citizen science observation program, NASA's Globe Observer app. Also, in light of the April expedition not happening, a couple weeks ago I took on the weekly maintenance and operation of the IMPROVE air quality monitoring station on top of Aspen Mountain in. IMPROVE stands for Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments. And with Colorado's Stay-at-Home public health order, I can still do all this important science. Science is essential! I'd like to tell you a bit about each of the projects.
Sitting on the porch after the first morning of our virtual orientation I had a new profound sense of how just how blessed I am to be selected to be part of the PolarTREC professional community. I walked away from my computer out on the front porch to get some sun and the realization of ‘I’ve made it’, ‘I’m in the respectable ranks’, ‘this is a big deal’, ‘this is the real deal’ all started to sink in. I get to lean back into my science background and practice not only thinking like a scientist, but also doing science more than I have in years. I get to communicate critically important weather forecasting science to a broad expansive audience. I am part of a science team with the top leaders of the Office of Naval Research and the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center. I am highly valued and important to the success of the International Arctic Buoy Programmes’ 2020 mission and most likely into the future.
As expected, the National Science Foundation, PolarTREC, and The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) have officially canceled my participation in the April Arctic science expedition. The Office of Naval Research and University of Washington Polar Science Center are not behind in officially cancelling too.
Hoping that the midsummer Greenland Arctic Circle trip will happen.... yet who knows.
In the meantime, laying low trying not to become part of the problem as an unintentional vector of covid-19. Just moved everything I need for a couple months out of my office and am now set up at home. Thankfully my house has a sunny south facing porch that is blocked from the wind - it may become my favorite new office space.
And for some much needed levity (in case you haven't already seen this on my social media channels) -
I've been googling Covid-19 too much and sometimes I accidentally type in Corvid as well and have seen so many pics of really cool birds. Thought I would share some of these really cool Corvids. Here are only 16 of the 120 corvid species around the world.
Stay connected to those you love and care about, I think the psychological effects of this pandemic is already causing intense emotional exhaustion for everyone on some level. Love your people - even if it's just through phone calls and video chats. I'm definitely feeling it myself.
In it for the long haul, until next time,
Be flexible with lost luggage, getting sick, delayed flights, missed trains, date changes, weather... I didn’t expect an international viral outbreak to be on that list. Yet, I must remain flexible. I'm trying to get used to the uncertainty of the daily (sometimes hourly) decision making required of all of us right now.
So, the current status of going to the Arctic is uncertain and I'm remaining on standby. My participation in PolarTREC is directly connected to National Science Foundation (NSF) grant funding. And currently the NSF is recommending that grant awardees not travel domestically or internationally, if possible.
Also, I'm thinking about what it means for a group of scientists from the lower 48 states to potentially serve as a vector for COVID-19 and bring the virus to remote communities in Alaska. This feels a bit irresponsible. Another thought is considering the risk and or access to health facilities in rural Alaska should someone on our team get sick.
I have learned that student travel has been restricted by the bigger school districts in Alaska (Anchorage, Kenai, and Matsu). Our primary investigator's (lead scientist) institution, the University of Washington in Seattle has shut down and gone to virtual classrooms. Our other primary investigator from the Office of Naval Research Reserve Component (ONR-RC) has cancelled all OCONUS (outside contiguous United States, which includes Alaska) travel for March 2020.
This is an elective opportunity of learning and adventure for me. I am not essential to this science team, nor the data collection in terms of the priority of my participation. Yet, I'm having to work hard at being okay with the situation as it is incredibly disappointing. There is a chance that I may still get to join the International Arctic Buoy Programme on a mid-summer Greenland and Canada Arctic Circle buoy deployment mission; the funding for that trip has been up in the air for a few months so I am waiting in the wings to see what happens.
Until next time...
Only 23 days until I fly to Alaska! The logistics of the next few weeks are beginning to become real, and some might say overwhelming.
Not only am I considering all the logistics of packing, attending a week long orientation in Boulder March 15-20, and then participating in an Arctic science expedition; I'm also in full swing of running my own business Wild Rose Education, designing a new fall course syllabus for Colorado Mountain College SUS-440 Watershed Science and Land Use Impacts, finalizing the logistics for five graduate level educator classes this summer, presenting at three conferences between now and the end of April, making sure I've got taxes and bills paid, and looking for new housing here in my community. Yet, I'm confident it will all happen and turn out quite well. Thankfully I'm really good at planning and paying attention to details. And hopefully I can prove to be incredibly flexible. As with any expedition, things change at any given moment and one has to be ready to flex, and also try to be okay with the new situation.
One phenomenon I'm really hoping to experience are the northern lights or aurora borealis. It will be my first time to experience them.
Thanks to the MOSAiC Expedition, I found these really neat website links: