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2015 Gates of the Arctic

Gates of the Arctic

Arctic Rainbow

John and Susan Pohl have continued their incredible generosity to the Department of Earth Sciences in helping us educate students about the Arctic with a rafting trip down part of the Noatak River, in the western half of Gates of the Arctic National Park. Sally Belasco '16, Megan Layman '16, Kyle Fitch '18, James Fisher '18, Ben Edwards and Alyson Thibodeau joined the Pohls and three Alaskan guides for this expedition. The trip was run by a very professional crew of Alaska guides from Arctic Treks, and included transport into and out of the western Brooks Range via float planes, and 4 days going down the river. We saw many permafrost features, including pingos, and large-scale glacial terranes, including several spectacular U-shaped valleys. The effects of climate change are most prominent by not only what is coming in to the country (trees climbing the valley sides), but also what is leaving (Brooks Range glaciers). The impact on wildlife is also intriguing; salmon were in the river and smaller tributaries, which acts to concentrate bear activity. Our main day-long hike opportunity got short-circuited due to be surrounded at one point by 5 different grizzly bears. Fortunately the bears were more interested in fish and roots than us, but having to call off a fieldtrip due to bear activity was a first for the crew!

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Trip Photos