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Cicely Saunders

I am interested in making waterproof enclosures but I still have a lot to learn. Sounds like a great application for a long range, low bandwidth wireless transmitter? Something like LoRa with higher transmit power. I wonder what the feasibility of solar power and low power radio would be for data retrieval? Once a day or twice a day send the temp via Morse code with a QTH type transmitter? So in this context what is a QTH transmitter? The term QRP derives from the standard Q code used in radio communications. QTH refers to ones location!

Several of these features look "smell of an oily electron" goldmines for energy sniffing IoT applications! Maybe 1 km is enough for these kids. Yeah, but even just driving somewhere near the site and getting a data dump, even just a hundred feet away, saves a lot of time compared to scaling the tower and opening a door and unscrewing a bunch of bolts and pulling an SD card and popping the card into a laptop and transferring the data. I thought this was for traditional native activities.

Anybody can build a temperature logger with modern devices and materials. Now go back to the drawing bard and come up with a solution that uses twigs, rocks, and bear scat. That would be an achievement. I have worked on several projects that have been deployed down in Antartica, one of the issues with 3D printed stuff is no matter what you try moisture gets in to the 3D printed housing, then freezes.

The expansion of the ice causes the 3D print to crack. The work around I found was to use zero infil and use acetone to better bond the layers. The project I am working on at the moment is heading down there at the end of the year, Each node has 60 teperature sensors and needs to mesh back to a master unit that will record the temperature. Speaking of Ice the other issue is that the communications needs to be pushed over about 30Km and antennas also turn in to awesome looking iceblocks on the mast. Working in these enviroments is a real challange and my hats off to rabbitcreek for such a cool little design.

Thanks for the experience lesson. I had some that were sealed with a rubber gland around them, all the cable holes had really nice metal cable glands with rubber gromets that sinched up around the LMR After a year or so one of the nodes stopped working.

The Hunters Become the Hunted - Alaska: The Last Frontier

When i went up to take a look the case had a pile of water inside. What was happening is as the rain, condensation etc was hanging around rown the bottom of the case and the case was heating up the expansion and contraction of the case would suck the water in. Happend on all the units.

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So i ended up drilling some little holes in the bottom and sticking silica gell packs inside. Lol, then came the next problem, where there is a hole you can guarentee bugs will get in and sure enough they did. My final fix was to cast up some solid aluminium cases. Not exactly a lightweight solution but I never had any issues after that. Some of the untis were still opperational after about 8 years without ever being opened.

The state railway we contracted to had very strict equipment standards. The custom boxes I built did not end up being overly expensive when compared to the equivilent NEMA plastic casing. The bonus was that I also got to design all the custom mounting etc inside the case so when it came to assembly it was nice and simple and im prety sure that ended up saving me money.

There was also the benifit of not having to paint the inside of the box to create an RF shelild. Sounds like you need gore-tex hydrophobic breather vents. Tap an M12 hole in your housing, screw the vent into it, and call it a day. Not a shill, I just see these things on a lot of fancy electronics and I figure they must be there for a reason.

So the state is separated or categorized, rather, into four different zones that determine how resources and personnel are allocated to fight any fire. So we have fires that are in critical zones, that are near population centers or other values at risk, where when a fire starts in one of those regions, it's going to be attacked with a huge amount of resources to really put that fire out as quickly as possible. Where on the other end of the spectrum, you have fires and lands that are in limited areas, where they're not necessarily receiving the same amount of resources as a fire in the critical zone might be, because it could be several hundred thousand acres of forest, which not that that's not worth protecting, but in terms of maintaining the natural ecosystem….

Carly: Exactly. I guess the one thing that distinguishes fire management in Alaska from fire management in the lower 48 is that the historic fire management that has created a lot of the problems that we're seeing, especially in California, just doesn't exist. There is no analog in Alaska. We haven't been managing forests and suppressing fires as intensely in Alaska as we have in California. And so I think that's a really important distinction in fire management strategies and history. Colleen: So in order to keep, or in order to minimize forest fires so we're not releasing all of this extra carbon into the air, what sorts of strategies would work better in Alaska?

Carly: When it comes to fighting fire in Alaska, we can do more with management and implement different types of strategies to manage that fire. But in Alaska, there…we also need to just be fighting climate change generally. We need to be reducing our emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Because in Alaska, a lot of those same gases are coming out of the ecosystem when they burn.

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Colleen: I mean, I know that wildfires in the west, there's a lot of forest management, like clearing out the underbrush and that…those sort of strategies. I imagine Alaska is huge and it's wilderness. It seems like those types of practices wouldn't really be practical. Carly: And I think those are challenges with some of those preventative strategies, regardless of the ecosystem. Implementing something like the mechanical thinning, like you're talking about, where you go through and remove some of the understory or some of the dead brush that you have there. One of the challenges with that is you can do that on a large area, but there's no guarantee that then that area is going to burn in the years when that treatment is effective.

Colleen: Recently, the governor of Alaska has slashed funding for research into ecosystems at the University of Alaska. How is that going to impact the work that that really needs to happen? Carly: The University of Alaska collects a lot of important data about how Arctic and boreal ecosystems are changing.

And so with the deep cuts like those by the governor recently, that data might not be collected anymore. So these longitudinal data sets that we've collected over years and years may suddenly be capped at And so there could be huge consequences for our understanding of how these ecosystems, and especially the one that we have domestically in Alaska, is going to be changing as our climate continues to warm. Not to mention that the University of Alaska Fairbanks is the true, like, leading Arctic research university in the United States.

And so to have their budget cut in the way that the governor has is going to be a huge loss to the Arctic research community, both here and abroad. Colleen: So tell me about some of the research that you've been doing at the Woods Hole Research Center. Carly: What we're trying to understand is if we can use fire management as a strategy to reduce overall emissions from the United States. So, like I mentioned, there are huge amounts of these heat trapping gasses that are coming out of these fires as they burn in Alaska, as they burn through that active layer, which even further melts the permafrost, which is, you know, happening all over the world.

But my research specifically is trying to understand if we can manage fire differently such that we reduce the amount of those greenhouse gases.

And so, as an example, in , which was one of the largest fire years on record, the amount of heat-trapping gases that were released from all the fires in Alaska were about equal to the emissions that came from the entire state of Florida burning fossil fuels. So these are a huge contribution to overall atmospheric CO2 and methane concentrations. But unlike some of the other challenges in Alaska, like melting permafrost, we actually know how to fight wildfire.

And so for us, it presents an opportunity that's more viable than some of those other strategies for reducing emissions. Colleen: How do you do the research? Are you on the ground? Or do you just use computer data? So for the research that I'm doing, we're using a lot of big data sets that are compiled by different government agencies. So we're using a combination of on-the-ground data sets that have been collected almost over the past century.

So, databases of Alaska fires and what they're, you know, spatial extent is. We're using information about fire weather, about vegetation, a lot of which are from satellite data. And so what we're doing is we're trying to build a predictive model that can predict fire size based on things like vegetation, climate, as well as things like elevation. And in our specific research, we're incorporating these fire management zones, the critical to limited zones, that determine how a fire is fought. Colleen: As temperatures rise, is there the possibility of extending the boreal forest into the tundra area?

Carly: Yeah, so there's definitely predicted range expansion of the boreal forest. And while that might be a positive thing in some respects, because we could get greater carbon storage above ground, an issue with that could be that we don't know what those consequences would be for the permafrost. We don't know whether or not that transition of trees growing into areas where typically there have only been these small shrubs and other, you know, prostrate plants, if that would have any impact on the permafrost. Colleen: The one thing that I just can't, like, I can't get a visual on is when you say we can manage the fires in Alaska differently.

Carly: In Alaska, when we're talking about managing it differently, it's more about suppressing more fires in high carbon areas. Colleen: Which I imagine is challenging because if your fire is out in the middle of the wilderness, how do you get people there to put it out?

Why Alaska continues to be the Last Frontier

So there are hotshots and smokejumpers that are a big part of fighting fire in Alaska. So those are the people that are jumping out of planes into some of these burning forests to be the first on the ground to, you know, dig the trenches and make the firebreaks. But there's also a lot of aviation support in Alaska and so that can really help as well as hiking. So if you can get yourself out there, sometimes that's the best thing that you can…the best way you can get out there.

Carly: A lot of people who visit Denali for the first time, thinking it's going to be the same as hiking the Grand Canyon, are often surprised by how spongy the floor is. So the forest floor, I mean, and that's usually by virtue of the plant species that grow there and also the moss. So I know when I was walking in tundra, which is a little different than permafrost, I had someone explain it to me as walking on a mosaic of bowling balls and rotten watermelons and you never knew which you were gonna step on.

And that can make the hiking itself even more challenging. I've rolled many an ankle walking in the tundra myself. Colleen: So tell me about the time you've spent in Alaska doing research. You've been there typically not in the dead of winter, but in the milder climate. Carly: Yes. I'm very much a fair-weather Arctic researcher, in that I've really never seen the sunset in the Arctic, if that tells you anything about the times that I've been there.

That's up on the north slope of the Brooks Range, which is above the Arctic Circle. And so I was interested, like you mentioned at the beginning, in soil carbon and what we can do to preserve that carbon and also what factors are changing the way that carbon is cycled in those ecosystems. So I dug a lot of cold holes. Carly: In the active layer and trying to understand what the microbial communities, the bacteria and fungi that are part of that soil, are doing in response to warming temperatures, in response to vegetation changes across these ecosystems that are changing so much more quickly than the rest of the world.

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Colleen: So are you actually taking samples of that and then bringing it back into the lab and…? Carly: Yeah, so for a lot of that research, we were bringing that soil back into the lab, and in some cases, doing measurements in situ, out in the field, you know, lugging equipment with us. But as you can imagine, there's a certain limit to both what you can bring with you and also what's reasonable to measure on the timescale of the summer up there. Colleen: Did you find anything particularly surprising in any of your time out there in the field? Carly: Oh, certainly. Almost everything was surprising to a certain extent.

Yeah, one of the surprising things was that I learned that you can feel permafrost thaw by walking on the tundra. So there are areas, so it's bowling balls and rotten watermelons, but then there are also areas where it's almost like you're on a trampoline but there's still ground beneath you.

There's like a bounciness to the land. And so I was taught that that was where there was permafrost failure beneath you. And that's why the ground was bouncier. So that really surprised me. Carly: Only from afar. I used to sing loudly so that the bears would hear me. That's what they recommend when you're out in the field alone. Really get a large vocal range there, you know, if you go through the key changes.