A journey north into the Arctic

View from the Dalton Highway, just south of the Chandalar Shelf. 68°06'45.4"N 149°32'11.9"W
View from the Dalton Highway, just south of the Chandalar Shelf. Location: 68°06’45.4″N 149°32’11.9″W

September marks the beginning of the new academic year and with it brings a new cohort of graduate students to the Department of Biology and Wildlife. As a bonding experience each year, several researchers lead a trip up to Toolik Field Station in the Arctic. This field station is operated by the Institute of Arctic Biology here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The mission of the field station is

to support research and education that creates a greater understanding of the Arctic and its relationship to the global environment.

Toolik supports research from across the globe and can currently hold over 200 researchers at a time. Even though this station is in the far north, it does have year round accommodations for brave researchers. We made due with the summer tents even with the early dusting of snow. Check out the environmental data from the station for supporting evidence.

Toolik Field Station
Toolik Field Station, which apparently runs on Turbo coffee

Seeing as this was my first trip into the Arctic, I wanted to get out as much as I could on our very brief journey. We took a short trip into the field with a hike along the Atigun River. There we were treated to tremendous views of the Brooks Range.

Looking west across the Brooks Range from the edge of the Atigun river.
Looking west across the Brooks Range from the edge of the Atigun river.

It was such a wonderful experience to journey north of the Arctic Circle. It was great to meet so many of the new students and learn about the interesting projects their about to embark upon.  I’m looking forward to building new research projects in collaboration with researchers working at the station.