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Blog Kytalyk 2013: 29 April

Expedition to Chokurdakh (Sakha Republic) 23 April - 5 May 2013


29 April, Kytalyk

Picture 8 croppedJust arrived at a new area of tundra where to monitor exchanges of greehouse gases with the atmosphere. Ko van Huissteden (left) and Roman Petrov discuss how to organize the work. (Photo: L. Belelli)The blue cabin is readily transformed into an improvised lab. All the eddy covariance systems are assembled in order to check the configuration of the instruments and make last minute changes. A final check and all the instruments are ready to be installed in the field. Just in time!
The battery charge of the laptop is critically low and the power generator, the new and reliable one, won't start! We solve the problem by using some batteries and a DC/AC converter, but still we have to fix the generator. We decide to take care of it before Kostia comes to the camp. He said he would come by "lunch time", that is fine, but what time is "lunch time" in the tundra area of Chokurdakh?
In the mean time the generator is packed with millions of mosquitoes, the air filter is soaked with petrol and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are even spitted out of the cylinder after we remove the sparkle plugs and make the piston pump up and down. Looking at such a scene, one could think that the generator is powered by a new type of "bio"-fuel.
Once cleaned the generator will still not start, so it is taken inside the kitchen to warm up. Kostia arrives shortly afterwards (we finally realise that lunch time is around 3 pm), and takes all the glory by starting the generator with the first attempt.

Picture 7 smallKo van Huissteden makes a final decision about the location of the new flux tower to be set up. (Photo: L. Belelli)Afternoon. The air surrounding the camp is filled with glittering ice crystals which reflect the sunlight. We load the metal tubing on the sleigh and we let the GPS guide our snow-mobiles to the location of the new flux tower. Sitting on the sleigh I try to direct Kostia, the driver, over the noise of the snow mobile. At times he can hear me and he turns back, I stretch my arm indicating the direction we need to go. After turning round a little we are finally at the right spot. Ko sinks the shovel in the snow as a symbolic gesture for the foundation of a new eddy covariance tower in the middle of the tundra.
The celebrative moment lasts just a few seconds and then we unload the sleighs and reassemble the metal framing of the tower to avoid losing the poles under newly formed snow dunes due to over night snow drift.
We make our return to the camp site and as we stand up from the sleighs we see an amazing halo decorating the sky in front of us. It is the first time I have seen such a sight. All around suspended ice crystals create ephemeral rainbows.
After dinner, I break the crust of the snow between the camp and the "old" tundra-tower and download the meteorological data from the logger and I can see that the system worked throughout the whole winter without interruptions. A very good result!
Picture 9 smallAmazing halo and sundogs (parhelia). (Photo: R. Petrov)