Thursday, September 5, 2013

Alaska Wrap-Up - Erik Boudart

With my first trip to Alaska it is time to reflect on my short time there. I enjoyed working in the field and seeing what it truly takes to be a oceanographer! Every day was learning something different and I really liked being able to talk with scientists who had been doing this for many years. It is a wonder that even after all the time that modern technology has been up on the North Slope that there are still things to be learned and discovered. It is this thirst for knowledge that drove me to oceanography and will keep me coming back for me. I was immensely lucky be a part of this experience and can only hope that I will have this opportunity again in the future.


Erik R. Boudart

Sunday, August 25, 2013

MACARENA Trip's Conclusion

Hello again from Riza! Just wanted to say that we are back safe and sound in Mother Bancroft. Doing research in North Slope Borough, Alaska was the greatest learning experience I have had so far as a midshipman. I really am thankful for this wonderful opportunity the Oceanography Department of the Naval Academy has provided me. The trip was what I expected in many ways, but it also presented a nice few surprises.

Arriving to Deadhorse, I was very curious to see how this whole research was organized in terms of who was involved and what we were actually studying. I was very excited to learn that I was going to have the privilege of working with scientists from the Naval Research Labaratory (NRL), Harvard Graduate School, and the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Labaratory (CRREL). This was an experience I had always dreamed of. I made sure that I asked as many questions as I could to understand the science we were doing as best I could; these people had so much insight and expertise!

The trip definitely opened my eyes to a much better idea of what I possibly want to do in the future career-wise. Now, more than ever, I am excited to expand my knowledge and experience in the topics of global warming, geochemistry, and the arctic regions. A huge thanks to LCDR Woods for teaching me and Erik a whole lot throughout the trip and Dr. Smith for providing me with this opportunity!

Friday, August 23, 2013


Today was probably the most interesting day we've had. It was our major "Boat Ops" day, and the plan was to take several full water samples of multiple rivers and lakes. And, of course, it had to be one of the colder rainier days of our trip. The team split up; one group went to recover samples from past sites, and my group was to execute Boat Ops.

We loaded the truck with our one and only, blue and gray, inflatable boat: the Mariner 3! First we sampled a couple rivers and measured for temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH using a YSI instrument. We came upon what seemed to be a large lake and unloaded our boat, hiked over to the water, got in with all our gear and lifejackets, and began to head out with our flimsy paddles... only to find out that nowhere in this large lake did the depth exceed 0.5 meters. There Erik and I were, in the middle of the tundra, all geared up, sitting in a tiny boat that was floating in less than 0.5 meters of water, and freezing our butts off. Even with Erik's rowing experience, it was a challenge to get ourselves back onto shore with the strong wind working against us, so LCDR Woods and Tom decided it was best to meet us on the other side of the lake and pick us up from there.

Our second Boat Ops attempt, this time executed by LCDR Woods and Tom, proved to be not much better. The lake was called Big Lake, and it's maximum depth was a whopping 1.5 meters. We took the samples and measurements, and headed back home in our muddy and wet gear.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


All that can be said about today was that it was quite a adventure! We started strong by collecting samples from Station 4 and did our first sampling from the water. We deployed from shore using a boat that you could find for your own scientific explorations in your local K-Mart aisle. As a midshipman with almost 5 years of rowing experience this may be these worst vessel I have ever had the pleasure of being the power plant of.

From our first lake experience we went off to deploy one of our last stations and at this point in the trip we quickly had it set up and were on our way back to home base when we actually hit a traffic jam. In Alaska we were in a traffic jam.

We eventually found out that it was because of this massive oil rig that was being moved down the road to another site. It was like watching a mountain being picked up and moved down a highway! We spent the next two and a half hours trying to find our way around this gargantuan piece of machinery and finally made it home the latest we ever have after we had thought it would have been one of our fastest days. Just goes to show you that nothing should be expected to go as planned up here in Alaska!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Greetings from Riza! Today we were back on the road by 0900 and got to our first new site an hour later. Pretty long drive? Well let's just say that we had a minor encounter with North Slope security... Nothing serious, just to remind us of the possible wildlife encounters we may have and to be extra careful driving around these roads. Along the way, we ran into a few caribou!

To join us for our trip today were some enjoyable wind chills of 25 degrees F. We deployed our VCP pipes at three new sites (doin' work!) before heading back to our cozy shack in town. Our core samples today had plenty of sand, a big difference from the icy ones extracted the other day, most likely from the sites' close proximity to the ocean.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013



Hi there!

So Day 3 is done and in the books and what a exciting day today was! We collected our samples hopefully full of methane from our first two sites and pulled our PVC pipes from the sites for continued use. We also collected sol from these sites for further analysis at the Naval Research Lab. We finished the day with deploying at site 4 with the only issue being the site was more a sponge than actual solid ground. This is most likely because the Arctic Ocean was only over a mile away!

Not only was today full of hard work but plenty of fun to. We saw our fist sign of wildlife other than birds and saw a pair of caribou! It was a pretty amazing experience since they were right next to the truck! We also got to examine the where the start of the Alaskan Pipeline begins its 800 mile journey. After deploying our last site we decided that it was time to get our feet a little wet and walked into the ocean! What a great way to end a packed day. Keep coming back for more Alaskan fun!


Monday, August 19, 2013


So for our second day here at Deadhorse, our little motley group opted for another all-you-can-eat meal at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel for breakfast. Upon returning to our base camp, Erik and I learned how to extract the gas samples from the containers that held the cores we drilled out on Day One. The gas samples were then sent to the lab to determine the Carbon isotope ratios in the methane.

Our game plan for the day was to "deploy," as we call it, more of our PVC pipes at two different tundra sites that were further up north. At these sites, we also took our core samples. This time, the cores came up with some frozen ice chunks... pretty impressive to see! LCDR Woods, with his handy high-tech skills, collected a core piece and made a sweet GoPro video of it melting over a 7-hour time period. Luckily, we had some pretty decent 43 degree weather... Let's see what tomorrow brings us.