Changing States

The Arctic took a mighty turn today, changing states from solid to liquid faster than conceivably possible.  Often during spring thaw, lakes thick with ice show signs of moating, where ice around lake margins thaws more rapidly then elsewhere, literally leaving a moat around the perimeter of a frozen interior.  This year, snow degraded so quickly due to two days of consecutive warm weather that surface water filled the still frozen rivers spilling massive quantities of tannic water, turned brown from decomposing tundra plants, out over the Toolik Lake ice.  Standing waves in the Toolik inlet indicate mass quantity and raw power of the Arctic spring thaw.  A trip to our study rivers revealed a coursing Oksrukuyik Creek and a Kuparuk River soon to follow suit.  With rivers flowing and joined now by field assistants, Tom Glass and Kate Michmerhuizen, we must quickly shift gears to our remote field locations, where we’ll capture and tag migrating fish.  No WiFi at I-Minus Lake, so no updates for a while.  Cheers!

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Toolik inlet rushes over anchor ice and over the still frozen surface of Toolik Lake.

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Safely out of the inlet’s grasp, our T-In antenna remains high and dry for now.

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Structures greater then the Toolik inlet bridge have caved to spring floods, so after a quick thrill dangling my feet over the edge, I’m outta here!

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Flood waters inundate Toolik Lake’s thickly frozen surface ice as winter gives way to spring in the Arctic.

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Oksrukuyik Creek shows similar but less dramatic flow to the Toolik Inlet, with water rushing over anchor ice.

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Cotton grass displays early sign of flowering. These baby yellow-green flowers will give way to fluffy white tufts later in summer.

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