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> The Countdown Begins, Planning for an Arctic Research Cruise
Steve_Marshall
post May 23 2005, 01:59 AM
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While my first few journal entries have been a little more philosophical or related to things learned that are more indirectly related to the project Iím working on, as I get closer to the departure date for my trip, my focus is more on the project itself. Having completed the logistics call with ARCUS, the principal researcher, Dennis Darby, and Jill Ferris at VECO Polar Resources, things are much clearer about what I need to do to prepare for this trip. Based on the call, and based on some other things Iíve done to prepare for the trip, I begin to realize how many people must be involved to make everything work. I also begin to realize what things are the most important to focus on for planning. Those things are: Travel arrangements, clearance, clothing, equipment, communications, and connections.

Travel arrangements: How do I get there from here? We are being flown by helicopter from Barrow to the Healy on June 12, so the first step is to make sure I get to Barrow before then. For this, the people at VECO Polar Resources determine how to get me from the closest airport, Norfolk, Virginia, to Barrow on time and then book the flight for me.

Clearance: This is the word I use to mean making sure I have all the proper forms and documents necessary for the trip. ARCUS requires some medical information and certain insurance requirements (Iíll try not to let that scare me! unsure.gif ), so I need to check if I have the proper insurance and get more if I donít. The Coast Guard also requires medical history information, so I need to make sure that is sent in on time. Even though I probably wonít need one, Iím told a passport would be useful, so I have to make sure all the paperwork for that is completed and sent in early enough to allow for processing and return of the passport to me in time for the trip (approximately six weeks processing time).

Clothing: From the logistics call, I soon realize this is probably one of the most important considerations. We were spoiled to have temperatures in the 70ís F.when at our orientation meeting in Fairbanks. I donít think weíll see that in the Arctic Ocean (20s and 30s F are probably more likely), so the main concept for clothing: STAY WARM AND DRY! Living in a relatively mild climate, I donít have much of the clothing and types of material used to keep warm and dry. For this, the logistics call helped because I was told what Iíd probably need for conditions on the ship and working outside the ship. With those details, Jill Ferris at VECO Polar Resources was able to determine what Iíd need. Giving her my clothing sizes, she and others at VECO will be in charge of getting the necessary items to me. Because not all items are provided by them, I also have to do a little research on my own and buy additional items, the most important being good sunglasses (even though it's cold, if it's clear, the sun will be up all the time and at a low angle, so glare from the sun and off the ice will be intense), and socks and long underwear made of material that helps keep you dry.

Equipment: My laptop computer with a wireless network card, digital camera, and possibly a digital video recorder, will be essential equipment. One of my main responsibilities as a TREC teacher is to document what goes on with journal entries and photographs, and conveying that information back to my students, teachers, and the general public, so the computer and camera are vital to fulfilling those duties.

Communications: This is an important issue for all the projects, but itís even more so when on a ship. Unique considerations: Satellite phone links are a little less reliable when higher than 75 degrees latitude; Most of us take high-speed internet access and e-mail for granted, so we donít always think about things like bandwidth and costs involved. On a ship, bandwidth is very expensive and internet access is not always available, so special considerations need to go into planning. For example, e-mail has a 100kb size restriction, and may even have to be smaller in some circumstances. This means journal entries and photographs will have to be sent separately, and probably one at a time for pictures. An e-mail account has to be set up for us while on the ship, and we canít just auto-forward mail from our other accounts because non-essential e-mails or e-mails that are too large would waste the bandwidth.

Connections: To get information back to my students and general public, especially if we want to set up some type of live communications, I need to have a lot of connections back home to help organize things. Just a few examples of people involved: Public information officeróto set up announcements, press releases, etc.; School coordinatorsóat least one designated person at each school to help students and teachers with live communications or to demonstrate to them the use of the virtual base camp to ask questions or post replies; Technology personnelóthese people need to be aware of what technology is needed for any live communication or access to the base camp; and ARCUS supportópeople from ARCUS will have to be in communication with the contacts at the schools or any other place where live communications may take place, so live events can be coordinated and simultaneous video support on the web can be provided.

Iím sure that even with all that I have described, Iíve left some things out. What that should illustrate is how much planning needs to be done for a project such as this, and how many people and organizations are required to help make it successful. It may seem a little overwhelming, but when everyone works together, and when it all starts to come together, itís a really awesome and exciting thing to be a part ofÖ.and we havenít even started the actual cruise yet!!
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