Thursday, August 20, 2009

Troubleshooting in the field


The last couple of days have been consumed by troubleshooting equipment. Myself and Steve have been trying to get the FTIR fully functional, and Katherine has been working out the kinks in her moated chambers. The FTIR’s multiplexer, a box of hoses, valves, and electronics that allows operation of up to 8 measurement chambers at a time in programmable sequence, appears to be broken. Two hours were consumed today by myself and Katherine attempting to get a reading that had some relationship with reality at one of her sites (“Wet Sedge Meadow” – well named). As for the moated chambers, they are of surprisingly shoddy construction, and Katherine is adding tape, weatherstripping, and strips cut from a closed-cell sleeping pad to achieve something like an air-tight seal. This is a time-consuming and boring process.

The weather here at Alexandra Fjord has been quite good. Fred has a small thermometer which he claims is not particularly accurate, but his tent at least has been consistently between 19 and 22 Celsius each “night”. I put quotes around “night” because it’s merely a convention – I won’t see sunset until I return south in August – according to a website I found, first sunset (in which the sun merely touches the horizon) will occur at this latitude on August 28. One of the downsides of this weather has been the mosquitoes: hot, still air is ideal for them, and they have been quite annoying. Occassionally we get a bit of a breeze, which cools things down (sometimes drastically) and blows away / down the insects.

Today was quite frustrating, because while some things seemed to work earlier, they stopped working later. Crushed optimism is worse, in my opinion, than steady pessimism.

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