Darrell Kaufman (Northern Arizona University) and Jason Briner (State University of New York, Buffalo) are at it again. This month, the climate scientists are working in the western Brooks Range for an NSF-funded pilot study aimed at assessing seasonal factors that contribute to changes in mountain glaciers. The research builds upon previous studies by Briner and Kaufman, which examine the response of north Pacific oceanic and atmospheric circulation to Arctic and Subarctic climate change over the last 10,000 years.
The team of four put in via float-plane from Bettles a week or so ago and established a base camp in the Kurupa Valley. During their three-week stint, they will map the lake bottom and collect sediment cores in the Upper Kurupa and Kurupa Lakes from a motorized inflatable boat. Briner and Kaufman will evaluate sediments for vegetation content (used for radiocarbon dating) and for the volcanic ash layers that may be time-correlated to layers in other Alaskan lake sediment cores. They will also visit the upper reaches of the valley to collect rocks from moraine deposits thought to record the last 5000 years of glacial history in the valley. Briner plans to use the hand-sized samples for Beryllium 10 exposure dating, a method that will yield a date and a rate at which glaciers retreated in the Kurupa Valley. From these data, Briner and Kaufman hope to produce a well-constrained glacial history for the western Brooks Range.
Christie Haupert, who manages CPS support to the project, herself an extreme sports woman, wrote about the Briner/Kaufman team’s stop in Fairbanks enroute to the field. “Darrell Kaufman and Jason Briner arrived on Wednesday. In a short three hours they managed to collect all gear, shop, shop, shop, and get onto a chartered caravan. Their plan was to make a single push from Anchorage to Kurupa Lake (north of Brooks Range) in one day. This meant three flights and collecting bits and pieces at each layover. As someone learning about endurance events, I highly respect this style of logistics.”
*In other words, “Get up offa that thing!”