Monday, November 4, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bite Me

It would be an understatement to say there are mosquitoes in Alaska. It is the only time in my life I have prayed for cold, wind, and rain as this was the only weather that kept the obnoxious insects at bay.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back from the Tundra

Alas, my time in the tundra has come to a close. Suffice it to say, it was an incredible trip. So much beauty, so much laughter, so much peace in the desolation.

Selfie in Alaska. 

Why hike when you can helicopter?

 The ridge which marks the transition zone into the foothills of the Brooks Range. 

Ivotuk Mountain (in the background) and general alpine tundra beauty.  

I just can't get enough of the view from above. 

After working in the desert for so many years, working in such a wet ecosystem was a treat. 

This is for you, Dad. The PC-12 which shuttled us from our camp to Anchorage. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Only 4 days left in Alaska, here is a little of what I have been up to.

Inigok field camp

 Landing strip

 Prior to the installation of the white domes (see above), the kitchen and office spaces were wall tents draped over these frames. 

 The view from camp. At 10:00 pm.

 Ikpikpuk river, from the helicopter.

 The Arctic Ocean.

 Tidal marshes of the Arctic Ocean. 

 Data collection to determine vegetation composition. 

 Measuring vegetation height.

 Average flora height is about 15 centimeters and most of the plant cover is non-vascular, such as the sphagnum moss pictured above. 
Thermokarst, or the sudden melting of the permafrost,  led to this exposed tussock wetland. Over time, the bare ground will re-vegetate, but melting of the permafrost is occurring at an ever increasing rate due to climate change.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Descent into Anchorage. 

Denali (left) and Mckinley (right). 

Descent into Fairbanks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No, Seriously. It is my job.

I know it has been quiet around here. Life just calls for introversion sometimes, and I have quite enjoyed the private moments of creation and appreciation of my life here in Las Cruces. But now it is time for a new adventures, so I thought I would share that experience here.

I am sitting in the airport on my way to Alaska to do field work in the National Petroleum Reserve. So what exactly is it that I do?

I am part of an effort to standardize data collection on landscapes around the world. Standardized data collection (monitoring) results in common indicators* of ecosystem health which in turn provides us with meaningful information about how similar ecosystems (e.g., deserts) are changing throughout the world, what may be causing these changes, and how we can prevent dramatically altering the equilibrium of a system (think avoiding a second Dust Bowl). When we collect data in the same way around the world, we can lump and split later depending on the question at hand. As a result, a pastoralist in Kenya can garner information to enable sustainable grazing while a scientist in New Mexico can examine global trends on range lands in Kenya, Argentina, and the American west.

Data collection in Nevada

Specifically, my job focuses on enabling the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in this effort. My basic workload involves developing training materials to guide the standard data collection process, providing training to field crews (similar to the crews I have worked on in Nevada), sampling design for monitoring projects, and data analysis and interpretation. For most of our projects, I simply train crews prior to a 3-6 month data collection period. In Alaska, the field season is only a few weeks long, so the decision was made that I would work alongside the data collection crews and train in situ. I did not complain.

So here I go, off to the Arctic tundra, to preach the standard data collection gospel and explore a new ecosystem in an intimate way. Stay tuned!

*Common measurements and indicators include average plant height, amount of bare ground, the degree of soil stability, and average plant canopy cover. In Alaska we also add tundra active layer depth measurements to determine how much of the tundra melts during the summer. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Playing in the Sand

Peter, Katie, and my parents came to visit this past weekend and we took a little trip out to White Sands National Monument for some site seeing and frolicking in the sand dunes. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ready to create

Hello. How are you? It has been a long month. More on that later. But for now, let us jump back into this creative endeavor called life.

For now, lets just say that I am doing a little sewing:

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I am taking time to see the small beauties in the world. Right now they are the light coming through the blinds onto my lap and the programming on NPR.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Here is the third installment of the rug crochet project. This was a very belated birthday gift for my sister. Originally I was going to arrange the circles to create an ombre effect, but we both agreed that the random circle effect packed a bigger punch. Zeb approves!

P.S.  I used three crochet stitches to join all of the circles at the end. After several failed attempts with a tapestry needles, this was the cleanest approach. Wouldn't this make a cute blanket or scarf?