NICOP Dalton Highway Field Trip

Field Trip Description

Dalton Highway Field Trip

This field trip was part of the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost (NICOP), held in Fairbanks, Alaska. We left Fairbanks early on Monday morning, June 23, and returned on June 27, 2008. We rode a Holland America bus all the way to Deadhorse, Alaska, over the course of five days, and were treated to an in-depth view of the landscapes and research along one of the most remote and scenic highways in North America.

Moving quickly through the interior forests, we made several stops, including an experimental trenching site at Washington Creek, the Yukon River, Finger Mountain (site of large fires in 2004), and spent the night at Coldfoot Camp.

On the second day, our stops included Sukakpak Mountain (large ice mounds and fens), treeline, and the Chandalar Shelf (low alpine landscapes). We stopped several times as we drove up and over Atigun Pass, and Dr. Thomas Hamilton spoke about the glaciated landscapes of the Brooks Range. Before reaching Toolik Field Station, we stopped at a huge aufeis field at Galbraith Lake.

On the third day, scientists at the Toolik Field Station and Imnavait Creek provided an overview of the Arctic Long-Term Ecology Research (LTER) and several other ongoing projects.

On the fourth day, we visited the northern foothills and the interior part of the Arctic Coastal Plain, stopping at research sites at Happy Valley (central foothills of the Brooks Range), Sagwon (northern edge of the foothills), and Franklin Bluffs (central Arctic Coastal Plain) with in-depth presentations of permafrost and soil research by Dr. Chien-Lu Ping and other arctic scientists.

We overnighted at Deadhorse and spent the fifth day on a tour of the Prudhoe Bay oil field conducted by Dr. Bill Streever and industry personnel. The field trip ended with a charter flight back to Fairbanks.

The major themes of the tour included permafrost and ecosystem variation along the Arctic climate gradient, biocomplexity of patterned ground, and Pleistocene glaciations of Northern Alaska.


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