Hitting the tundra running: an exciting first trip to PEARL

After a great trip to Igloolik, Nunavut, from May 23rd to June 1st, I was really looking forward to returning to Toronto and getting back to the heat. I had been on a CANDAC Outreach trip with three other CANDAC members (Ashley Kilgour, Jonathan Franklin, and Melanie Wright) to help the Ataguttaaluk School elementary students present the weather data they had been collecting for the past few months.

When I returned to work the following week, there was discussion at a research group meeting about a potential opening to go to Eureka, Nunavut to work at the PEARL Ridge Lab. I was unofficially offered to go, and the first thought that went through my head was “Oh no, I just buried my winter gear in the closet.” Nevertheless, as a new member of the team, I was anxious for an opportunity to make a trip to Eureka.

A week before the campaign, I got the thumbs up to join Dr. Pierre Fogal (PEARL’s Site Manager) and Prof. James Drummond (Dalhousie University, PEARL’s Principle Investigator) on their trip. I was excited to have an opportunity to work with Pierre and Jim up at Eureka.

Pierre, Jim, and I began our mission on June 19th with a flight to Yellowknife, where we would spend the night and depart for Eureka the following morning. When we arrived at the Arctic Sunset Hangar the next morning, I saw the smallest plane I have ever boarded in my life. Even though I’m not scared to fly, I was a bit nervous about our 6 hour flight. Sure enough, the flight was smooth and we landed safely in Eureka on June 20.

The plane we took from Yellowknife to Eureka

The plane we took from Yellowknife to Eureka

The main goal of the campaign was to install a new suntracker for the Bruker 125HR Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) to optimize the quality of our measurements, and enable remote operation of the instrument. Despite a few sunny days at the beginning of the trip, the Sun seemed to vanish for almost a week. This complicated our work plan.

Working on the new suntracker dome on the PEARL Ridge Lab roof

Working on the new suntracker dome on the PEARL Ridge Lab roof

We installed a few Vaisala weather stations around the lab, anxiously waiting for the Sun to return.

Canada Day rolled around on July 1st, along with unfortunate weather. It snowed and rained most of the day, leaving us stranded at the Weather Station. Despite losing a day of work, Canada Day turned out to be great. There were lots of food and festivities with the Weather Station and military staff.

After Canada Day, on July 2nd, the Sun finally returned! With only 2 days left of our trip, we worked hard to get the suntracker up and running. We calibrated the suntracker and began taking measurements with the Bruker. In addition, we have set up remote access to the instrument and both computers required for its function. We also set up a camera to monitor the alignment of the beam, and a camera to check the weather. Despite a few more issues that need to be addressed, the campaign was a success.

New suntracker camera installed

New suntracker camera installed

Aside from all the work, Eureka also showed me some fascinating wildlife. I saw my very first muskoxen, Arctic hare, caribou, and a wolf, which was amazing. The drive to the Ridge Lab everyday allowed me to take some great pictures of some of the animals we saw!

Muskox and a wolf seen during the trips to the PEARL Ridge Lab

Muskox and a wolf seen during the trips to the PEARL Ridge Lab

Overall, the trip was an amazing experience and very beneficial to my work in the future. Working side by side with both Pierre and Jim greatly increased my knowledge of how the instruments at PEARL are set up and function. Having the chance to pick at both their brains was very helpful! I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to work at the PEARL Ridge Lab, and hope to make a visit again soon.

–       Anthony Pugliese

Summer Intern and incoming Masters Student, University of Toronto

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About createarcticscience

The CREATE program for Arctic Atmospheric Science supports researchers and students across Canada. This blog provides a venue for sharing our experiences.
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