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Blog Kytalyk 2013: Start up

A research team from the VU-Amsterdam represented by Ko van Huissteden (PI), Ron Lootens (technician) and Luca Belelli Marchesini (post doctoral researcher) spent two weeks at the end of April in Kytalyk Russia to start the measurements campaign 2013.
Their main targets were the collection of meteorological winter time data, the maintenance and enhancement of solar/wind powered energy systems, the restart of eddy covariance CO2/energy flux measurements at the "tundra site" and the set up of a new flux tower for CO2/CH4 and energy fluxes on the bank of a thermokarst lake (N70.82748; E147.42119).
Here  below you can read a summary blog from Ko Van Huisteden from the field trip.
Kytalyk field station at Dutch Queens day Ko van Huisteden smallerKytalyk field station at Dutch Queens day. Photo by Ko van Huisteden.Starting up methane and carbon dioxide flux measurements at the Kytalyk field station is done before the spring thaw start, because the station cannot be reached over water or land once the spring thaw sets in. Luca Belelli, technician Ron Lootens, IBPC PhD Roman Petrov and me set out from Chokurdagh on snow scooters and sledges, racing through the frozen tundra on one of the last days of April. We were towing four sledges in total, one with the food store for the next summer, two with our equipment and luggage and the fourth one with us, poor passengers.
In particular sitting on the front of the sledge, just behind the snow scooter proved a somewhat uneasy ride, because of the exhaust gases and the heavy bumping over snow dunes and ice wedge polygon ridges.
As a tradition, a stop is made at the last tree. This is a small, thin larch, no more than a meter high. For good luck, everyone should drink a glass of vodka and leave something behind in the tree. The poor thing is decorated with all kinds of small objects. With some difficulty I found a price tag in the pockets of my coat and added it to the tree. After a tough two hours ride we finally reached the station.
The goal this time was to move one of the instrument towers, including its power supply consisting of a windmill and solar panels. It should be moved from the edge of the river floodplain to the bank of a permafrost thaw lake, two and a half kilometers from the base camp. The right location was pinpointed last summer with a GPS, nevertheless it proved difficult to find it exactly. The lake ice is at that location almost level with the polygon tundra at the shore, so it was hardly perceptible. Also most of the tower parts had to be dug up from below a snow dune at the old location. A day later we could transport everything the new site.
Stop at the last tree on the road from Chokurdagh to Kytalyk Ko van Huisteden smallerStop at the last tree on the road from Chokurdagh to Kytalyk. Photo by Ko Van HuistedenThe next day was hard work in sunny weather. A strong cold wind caused a haze of ice cristals in the air, resulting in the most fantastic halos around the sun. This added some welcome decoration because it was Dutch Queens day. In the lunch break Luca surprised us with a small parade with the Dutch flag tied to a walking stick.
Back to work - late in the evening the green light on the methane analyzer started blinking – we're up and running! The data from the meteo tower showed that it worked well again throughout the winter – powered by solar panels and a small windmill. The lowest temperature on record was minus 50 degrees. It takes more time to set up the second eddy covariance system, the tower that remains on a fixed place near the station. The weather detoriated – snow and strong wind. Although it was not cold, the field laptop had problems.
The weather forecast, transmitted by my wife everyday to the satellite phone, suggested upcoming thaw. We decide to leave a day earlier. Back to Chokurdagh, with very sunny weather. On the tundra nothing to be seen of thaw yet, but when we arrive in Chokurdagh the streets are already muddy. It was amazing that also a small town of two and a half thousand inhabitants appears to have a well developed city heat island.
Best regards, 
Ko Van Huisteden