Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Nice Walk on the BEO

I've been procrastinating for the last couple of days to go out to the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) control shed to resolve some networking issues. This morning, after an early morning freezing rain, I borrowed a truck from another project and headed out. I had tried going out last Thursday but after riding the quad to the turnout, it was really too cold and windy. After the rain, much of the ice on the surface had melted.

It is only about 1¼ mile walk from the turnout and is a combination of wooden walkways and plastic grid through the really swampy areas. On Thursday, the plastic grid was solid ice. Not so right now. The power line was a NSF infrastructure project that ended up costing a small fortune since there is only one customer along the entire path.

There was a lot of small birds nesting in the area and this is an area set aside by the native corporation for arctic research. This morning, it was just a little bit above freezing but at least it wasn't raining. At least not yet.

This is the control shed. The tower behind the small building has a variety of antennae to support a variety of point-to-point wireless networks to the different projects. I was looking into a connectivity problem with a web cam and a single board computer installed on another tower. Another project set up a Windows 8 computer and it needed both a public and private IP address on the same LAN segment. Windows 8 is a real pain to deal with. It may be the new and shiny thing but it is difficult to use if you are at all familiar with Windows.

I was able to get all the problems resolved and there were a number of researchers out there as well as a bear guard with his 12 gauge. When you have researchers working in the field, they generally tend to look at the ground and not always paying attention to their surroundings. Which is the reason for the bear guard. His job is to pay attention to the surroundings. It started to drizzle on the way back to the truck but fortunately, it didn't last for long.

It turned out to be a pretty nice walk. I'll end with a picture I took last night pretty close to midnight. This is looking to the north and the sun is pretty high in the sky. What looks like hills on the horizon are pressure ridges out on the ice.

16 comments:

Conchscooter said...

it just gets worse and worse. A bear guard? You are far too serious minded to be joking but it sounds like a Far Side cartoon, the absent minded scientist etc... Besides what if you needed a bear guard and the bear was between you and the hut 1.25 miles away? Do bears respond to "shoo!" noises?

RichardM said...

No, completely serious. I was talking to the bear guard while he was at the hut and he thought that the risk was pretty small but the research group really wanted one so he was happy to oblige. And they barely respond to being shot let alone "shoo". Basically, you just need to keep your eyes open and I'm told that they don't consider people to be "very tasty". Supposedly, not enough fat compared to a seal.

SonjaM said...

What a strange world. It still amazes me that people voluntarily live and work there. I have a hard time finding it pretty... interesting yes, but instilling a desire to go and live there? Heck, no!

redlegsrides said...

Bear Guard....must be an interesting resume entry.

dom

Martha said...

"Far Side cartoon"...that is funny. I can see it.

Those are really nice photos even if the scene is somewhat bleak- but an improvement over total ice and snow! That grid makes an interesting looking feature. Smart, too. How would one find that product? Listed as ?

RichardM said...

A researcher was telling me that there was some initial concern about getting students to volunteer for Barrow. Given a choice between Geneva and Barrow, the majority had Barrow as their first choice.

Odd....

RichardM said...

I'm not really sure what the job reqirements are besides being able to stay focused through long periods of boredom.

RichardM said...

The plastic grid sections are tied together with zip ties and are really difficult to wallk on. Three days ago, they were extremely slippery. I don't know where you'd find it or what the product is called.

RichardM said...

Google plastic grating walkway.

Martha said...

Found it. But your testimonial is enough for me. Pass.

Trobairitz said...

It's so brown under all that snow. It is nice to see most of the snow melted though.

That is quite the walkway to get to the shed. Hope you had your mud boots on.

RichardM said...

It'll turn green once it warms up a bit more. And, yes, I had to borrow a pair of insulated mud boots before trekking out there. Some of the "puddles" were pretty deep. When I had previously attempted to walk out, most of them had thin ice. You'd break through with each step.

Unknown said...

Richard:

I'm not liking your 11 month winter either. When is sandal season ?

If you brought riding gear then would the Quad make it there, to the end ? Does it have plug ins for heated gear and heated grips

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

VStar Lady said...

Richard I love reading your blog ... Your Alaskan weather always makes me pause and stop whining about the weather here.
(Bear guards you say ... I am all for that!)

RichardM said...

This is Spring almost Summer up here. Throughout the weekend you could see groups having bonfires and picnics along the beach. Lots of kids terrorizing motorists on their bicycles, and people walking everywhere. There were even runners training for the 2nd Barrow Marathon.

You wouldn't like it here. When it's warm enough for sandals, the mosquitos would eat you alive.

The BEO is protected. No motorized vehicles. Even walking off the walkway is frowned upon.

No heated grips or outlets on the ATVs.

RichardM said...

Yep, bear guards. Men & women who follow you around with guns. That sounds fun?