This week I got snowed in at the Kevo field station. Ensilumen (en-see-lou-men) is what they call the ‘first snow of the year that sticks’. It’s slippery, and loose and not yet compacted. I bused up to Kevo while it was really cold, but there was no snow on the ground yet, but when I woke up on my field day this week, this is what I saw from the front door of the station:
The non-compacted and super slippery nature of the first snow made it impossible to move the Kevo van even out of the parking area of the field station – you can see the tracks of all the attempts, though:
And the 5-km long road that’s the only way to get from the station to the main road is a windy, hilly piece of work. So I spent my day working on some grant writing, and I took a walk through the site once the heavy snowing stopped. It was so pretty, although they weren’t kidding about the slippery.
I also walked down to the lake, where I took a picture of gas bubbles getting caught in the ice forming. It makes me happy to see that even ice can get stretch marks.
So on day 3, Esa and Ilkka piled the back of the van with concrete blocks, and were able to get the car out of the parking lot. Before I headed out for the day, Elina tells me that she’ll be visiting a friend rather close to my field site, and she says to me: “Call me if you have problems. We’re only two women with a car, but we can make you coffee.” Best rescue offer EVER! :)
I also must have looked even more incompetent than normal, because Esa offered-slash-insisted that he drive me out to my site, and then come pick me up after my 6 hours of work. I’m not gonna lie – I readily took him up on his ‘offer’. Because it’s been a while since I’ve driven in serious snow (Madison in 2007), and never in a beast of a van on one-lane country roads, and I really didn’t feel like calling from a snowbank 5 minutes after leaving the station. So I’m (potentially) here typing this blog post courtesy of Esa. Big up to Esa!
At the field site! These are the first pictures I took, at about 10 and then 11am – it’s so dark because the sun isn’t entirely out, and it’s snowing.
It snowed the entire day, although it was only heavy the first few hours, and then the wind picked up, so I couldn’t tell if it was snowing or if the snow on the ground was just getting tossed around and back up into my face. Self portrait of said face:
Commence the science! Oh, wait. Remember when I said the ‘first snow’ is light and fluffy and slippery? In terms of my field work, this translates into a slight change of plan in terms of my winter sampling. I was planning on snow sampling by sealing the caps to the top of the snowpack, and measuring the area directly above the collars through the snow. This first snow, despite its being 8-inches thick, collapsed under the weight of the caps. Recalculating…. So I found my collars (they’re 30cm to the right of the orange poles):
And measured as normal. There were a couple of times when the soils at the collar surface were not frozen solid, but rather still a little slushy, which actually made cap placement harder. This is the last weekly measurement I’ll take – from now on I’m considering the soils to be frozen, and will only sample once a month until the thaw begins in May.
At the end of each run, I replaced the snow I had moved, so that I don’t change too much between the collar areas and the ‘natural conditions’.
I was visited in the early afternoon by a herd of reindeer when I conveniently already had my camera out. They’re being rounded up right now only about 2km away from my site, so there were a few herds that made their way past me throughout the day.
The next day, I bused my way back home to Brandon and Rovaniemi. I snapped a picture of my field site from the road:
And this is an attempt to photograph this crazy vertical rainbow out of the bus window. It’s right down the middle of the shot. Also, because a few of you have asked, this is the position of the sun at 2pm. This week, it’s light here from about 9am-5pm, a lot of that time being ‘dusky’. The sun doesn’t get higher above the horizon than this sunset-level height at any point during that time. It’s like a 6-hour sunset.