The breaking news yesterday was that there was a polar bear about 10 miles east, on the beach of Cape Nome. Although it was too far for us to go out and see, everyone was pretty excited about it; the report said it was spotted trotting along the beach and then got scared off and started swimming away, and has not been seen since.
The rest of yesterday wasn’t quite that exciting, but interesting nonetheless. I was assigned a sort of practice job to re-write some technical project descriptions into short summaries to post on the website, and then spent most of the afternoon watching training videos of lectures about the archaeology and natural history of BELA.
After work, although I was pretty tired of lectures I was up for one more after dinner — a team of scientists from the Korean Polar Research Institute was speaking at the University of Alaska campus in Nome, so I accompanied some of my coworkers to go hear their talk. It was pretty interesting stuff; they apparently have research stations all over the arctic and two in the antarctic, and here just outside of Council they are studying permafrost in the tundra.
The talk was basically about how the arctic is warming faster than the rest of the globe and the ground here contains more CO2 than the atmosphere — and that CO2 is being released into the air as the permafrost melts. Scary stuff. We also found out that the Korean research vessel will be coming to port in Nome next month and we may have an opportunity to go tour it!
Today has been about the same — finished up the writing assignment this morning, and I got briefed on my schedule for next month. Let me tell you: it’s going to be one hell of a month. I’m scheduled for B3 aviation training on the 11th, followed by a trip to Shishmaref (a small Inupiat village about 120 miles north of Nome), then a few day trip with an NPS media specialist (I think?) to the village of Wales to interview the reindeer herder and see that part of the preserve, and then couple days after, a week in Serpentine.
Needless to say, I am stoked to be spending almost an entire month getting dropped off in obscure places in the backcountry. Along with the excitement however, comes the harsh reality that, A) I need to learn a lot about the camera ASAP, and B) I only have one chance to get the shots, since I’ll only get to visit these places once and for a very limited amount of time. (It’s funny — the camera issue is making me more nervous than the living-in-the-tundra-with-bears issue!). I feel so inadequate. I know I’ll be able to do it, but it’s going to be so much harder than if I actually had previous DSLR experience.
At any rate, it’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime. I still can’t believe that I’m not only getting to see some of the most remote and unique places in the world, but I’m getting paid to do it! A month ago I never would have even imagined I’d be doing this right now. So I’ve gotta say, the daily grind isn’t so bad here.