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> Sampling on the Yukon River
post Jul 18 2005, 03:11 AM
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Our day started very early for us yesterdayówe were on the water at 8:00 a.m. This was a tough wake up call for me because I have been sleeping really late. However, I usually get up at 5:45 in the morning so it shouldnít have been that hard to get up. Part of the reason I have been sleeping in so late is due to our accommodations. I have learned what when working on a science team in remote locations in Arctic, you have to be super flexible about accommodations because 1.) You never know what they are going to be and 2.) Even if you think you know what to expect everything can change. Our time in Pilot Station and the priest showing up at the church is a good example of that. Anyway, to make a long story short, I havenít been sleeping well, except for in the morning after Max gets up, so from 6-10 a.m. has been when I have been getting my good sleep!

Anyway, collecting samples in the U.S. with Charlie has definitely been the most high tech operation that we have been on in any of the arctic rivers. We have had access to more equipment than on any of the other rivers.

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Also, due to the fact that the U.S.G.S. already takes quite a few samples of the river for their own use, the sampling procedure is reduced quite a bit for the PARTNERS Project, since many of the sample collections for PARTNERS are already done for other projects, and the data can just be shared. However, the flip side of that is that because this river is already heavily sampled by the U.S.G.S. we had to drop the Depth Integration SampleróD96 (The Bomb) three times at each sampling spot instead of once to get enough water for all the different samples.

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For the most part things went off without a hitch except for the fact that the GPS that was supposed to help us make sure that we were at the exact right location for each drop of the D96 kept erroring out on us. It was funny doing the work in the U.S. because all the measurements were in the English System (feet, miles, etc.) instead of the Metric System (meters, kilometers, etc.) which made me think again how ridiculous it is that the U.S. keeps up a different measurement system than the whole rest of the world.

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When we got all the water collected, we sort of split up into two teams. Max dealt with logistics (i.e. getting the truck back and the boat out of the water, paying for the accommodations, checking in with everyone we needed to check in with, etc.) and Charlie and I processed the water samples at the little house Max and I had been staying at. We set up the lab and got to work, pumping water through different filters, bottling, labeling and refrigerating or freezing the water. Then I spent most of the afternoon trying to get some alkalinity testing done for the water, but it was a very frustrating exercise as the pH meter was not working consistently at all, which was driving both Charlie and myself crazy. It was driving Charlie crazy because he couldnít figure out what the problem was and it was driving me crazy because I had to keep bugging Charlie because my readings were off. In the end, we ended up having to scrap the whole project because the readings were just too unpredictable when they should have been very predictable.

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That is something else that I have learned about working with a science team is that sometimes you have to be a nuisance and keep asking questions about stuff. What I have found out about that is that oftentimes, the questions arenít stupid and that scientists grapple with questions all the time. The other thing that I learned on this trip is how patient you have to be when doing scienceósometimes things go really slowly when you want to go quickly and there is nothing that you can do to speed them up! Luckily, for us this day went smoothly and we were able to catch a flight at 3:00 p.m. to Bethel. We then waited until 7:45 p.m. at the airport hoping to get on a stand-by flight to Anchorage, but there was only one seat available, so we gave it to Charlie. Max and I got up this morning to try and fly stand-by on the 7:30 a.m. flight this morning with no avail (What did I say in the previous paragraph about patience???). So, instead we have done laundry (thank goodness as we were getting stinky), I'm able to get these journals posted, and we will be on our way home to the lower 48 tomorrow.
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