An Arctic Independence Day Celebration

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I think it's safe to say that the only holiday (4th of July) the summer crew at Toolik gets to share together is the largest and most northern Arctic party in North America. For more than 120 days each summer researchers and their assistants spend countless hours counting squirrels, splicing tundra, mapping, writing reports, etc. It was neat to see everyone come together under the midnight sun and let loose for one daynight. Human festivities always start with one thing in common: food.

Fueled and ready, I was unsure as to what this night would bring. I heard stories of a dance party, which wound up being a dance-off and skit challenge topped up with a late daynight bonfire. First thing I stumbled upon was the staff practicing their Saturday Night Fever routine.

Chatter on the dusty streets was that all the judges and acts were in place. Time to roll.

Literally, on whatever wheels you got.

The judges in place.

The awards.

Departing from their hibernaculum the user groups emerged all dressed up in some funky, robotic, and sexy costumes.

The announcer came out and began the show.

Baker Ben was rocking the scene, just like his bread.

I applaud all the time and energy that went into them. Well thought out, good actors, nice moves.


Lady Gaga and her girlz.


The disco ball.

Saturday Night Fever.

At the end everyone joined in.

Next... the bonfire.

Yeehaw man start that fire.

The crowd went back to dancing and I must be sick or something, I actually danced.

The fire keeper.

My fav. shot from this post. The thinking rock.

Like a stray dog I run the blocks of cities and bush sniffing out goods bits here and there. I met so many people last night from all over the world and heard great stories. Had a nice half hour convo in spanish with a lad from Colombia talking about the food of Central America. The most interesting thing I learned was that the GIS use is in its infancy right now at Toolik, and Northern AK for that matter. Researchers have mapped out the elevation, set coordinates on vegetation plots, track tagged wildlife, but there is no 'big picture' digital map that overlays the many fields of research found here. One group will study vegetation... another ice melt... another air temperature... another will create DEMs... why not put them together in one display? Why not model climate change and it's impacts on the physical geography of the area through time-variable algorithms derived from science work already done? 4-D, 4-D, 4-D, we're smarter than 3-D. I can just picture a moving map that shows species of vegetation spreading north as the variables associated with climate change, change, like earlier snow melt. Could do the same in Antarctica. Map the Poles in real-time. I think more in moving maps, not static ones. I guess the biggest hurdle would be to develop models and equations that mimic nature based on only a few decades worth of research. Could easily slip into the hands of a fictional movie without accurate models.

Mapping the Arctic and Antarctic in regards to increase in human activity due to changes in the landscape and technology that have opened up the last frontiers of our world is necessary. This can potentially create a safe and sustainable relationship (like the Eskimos have shared) with the Arctic, but could also have a negative feedback. No mining can take place in an area unless there's a map showing where those minerals can be found and no vessels can haul goods to the mining location without the use of a map indicating where sea ice will be. Map the Arctic ocean sea ice melt based on current surface temp. increase trends and bam you have a shipping lane. Good, bad? No matter what it is being done and I just hope a few nations get together and create something like the 'Great Arctic Marine Wildlife Refuge.' Well, I really just hope that the nations in North work together in peace.

I view our race as a colony of ants of digging deeper into and spreading cross the Earth's surface. Population growth is exponential. Climate change is being witnessed. More resources are needed for continual population growth at the current rates, The polar regions are still relatively untapped and unknown. Checks and balances kids. Thankfully scientists get out there and study bits and pieces of the everchanging Arctic world. Like I said in an earlier post, I'm all for closing off the Arctic circle for any future agressive military or mining activities. We don't have to shut down the North Slope rigs and camps already in operation because that provides jobs, gas and access routes for researchers, but how much is enough? How much human intervention can be sustained in the far North? Both the Arctic and Antarctica are absolutely beautiful and wild frontiers, not colonies, let's keep it that way.