Toolik Users Forum
June 20, 2007
Donie Bret-Harte and Mike Abels represented the Toolik Management Team. Chad Diesinger, TFS Camp Manager, and John Hobbie, Scientific Liaison, attended. Mike McKibben represented VPR. Donie Bret-Harte recorded these notes, in consultation with others who attended.
John Hobbie commented that the collection of baseline environmental data is a new feature, and protocols for making requests and the process for making decisions about what will be collected need to be made clear to the community. Christie Haupert, TFS Environmental Data Manager, needs to be backed up by the Toolik Management Team in her decisions. The possibility of asking for general items of scientific equipment through the Toolik CA needs to be advertised, as many people may not be aware of this possibility. Christie and Donie agreed to work on defining these protocols. Mike will post them on the web site. Christie commented that she is planning to request shaker tables, balances, and centrifuges as high priority general use equipment items that were recommended in the 2006 Science Vision Workshop report. It definitely helps to have additional suggestions from the community, however. Christie also schedules and maintains common use equipment items, including such things as scheduling the incubation facility, calibrating balances and microscopes, and taking care of the DI water system in the wet lab. John asked whether the data that Christie is collecting is compatible with the LTER data. Christie is taking over the maintenance of the main Toolik weather station. She is using Jim’s protocols, and the data should be completely integrated and compatible with the other LTER weather data.
John also commented that he would like to see Toolik have more contacts with the native community, as part of the education and outreach component of all of our research. Would it be possible to bring some folks from Kaktovik here? Mike commented that it would certainly be possible if the Kaktovik residents are willing. In the past we have brought folks from Anaktuvuk Pass, our nearest neighbors apart from the Pump Station 4, and we are looking into bringing more folks as part of the new AON course. TFS does operate an artist-in-residence program, the MBL brings several journalists each year through their program, and we now have more field courses than ever before. Several employees of Pump Station 4 regularly attend the Toolik Talking Shop summer seminar series.
John commented that Terry Callaghan gave a talk at the ARCUS meeting, in which he showed a slide that placed Abisko and Toolik, among other arctic sites into the bigger picture of climatic variables, and reviewed the long-term records of change at Abisko. He suggested that the Environmental Data Manager might wish to download this talk and see what environmental indicators have been particularly useful over time. Christie and Donie agreed to do this.
Cody Johnson commented that there has been lots of turnover in the camp population, but he feels that things are going very well. There have been lots of positive changes, and the camp operation is very smooth. He would particularly like to commend Laura Belval for accommodating his newly discovered food allergy. He really appreciates her help. Elissa Schuett commented that as a new LTER RA, she used the Toolik web site to prepare for coming up here, and it was really helpful. She particularly liked the sections that addressed how to travel up here, transportation options, what shipments have arrived, and the user handbook.
John Hobbie wondered if items can be left in camp for warm storage now that TFS is operating through the winter. Mike replied that most of the buildings will still be kept cold during the winter, except when a group is in camp that needs to use them. However, relatively small, delicate items such as the new microscope could be kept in warm storage in camp, if desired.
Jason Stuckey commented that many of the bicycles in camp are not in good shape. Mike responded that four new one-speed bicycles have been purchased, and will be here soon. These bicycles have proved to be very popular.
John Hobbie reviewed comments from the last LTER site review about Toolik infrastructure and management in preparation for the upcoming LTER site review next week. He commented on the recommendations for an on-site library, Herbarium, and list of publications on the web site. He will send the relevant part of the last report to the Toolik Management Team. Donie commented that the Herbarium has been considerably expanded from the time of the last site review.
Donie noted that VPR is wondering whether it would be acceptable to the users to remove gravel from the ends of the old air strip to support gravel needs for the various upgrade projects. John Hobbie and Cody Johnson commented that they did not see any problem, as long as access to the LTER plots along the airstrip is restored when the work is done.
Mike McKibben provide an update on the VPR upgrade projects that are in process or planned for the near term. There is continuing work on the generators, which are nearly ready to go, but not quite. It is hoped that they can be accepted in approximately 1 month, if the remaining problems can be solved. The planning for the Science Support Building is proceeding, and NSF has committed money for the design and engineering parts of the project. Incremental upgrade items for this year are mostly done. Some of the more visible of these include a new coffee service in the dining hall, a new roof for the dining hall, and an entryway for the Community Center. One project for the fall is to minimize drifting along the camp road by installing some new snowfences south of the access road. Another project is construction of a new bridge and power line for the NPS Interagency Air Quality Monitoring Station. Mike McKibben commented that feedback from users is really important to set priorities for the upgrades. There was a question about the vacuum system for the labs that was requested last year. IAB needs to order vacuum pumps.
John Hobbie asked whether the Toolik web cam is up and going. It has been down since the upgrade of the wireless internet, because it needs a new IP address, but should be on-line again soon. John noted that when he attended the Polar Research Board meeting in the spring, pride was expressed in sites that have web cams, so the Toolik web cam is important. Toolik should also archive some of the web cam images. Chad and Christie indicated that one picture per day could be archived. John asked whether Chad is still doing orientations for new users. Yes, Chad gives lengthy orientations, usually after new arrivals have had a chance to eat dinner.
Cody commented that the Toolik staff has been super-helpful and incredibly quick. Scott fixed Cody’s boat motor faster than Cody could have imagined. This is much appreciated, and Cody has no complaints. Yiwei commented that he also has no complaints. John commented that it is easy to take the helpful staff for granted, but we shouldn’t do that. Toolik is at a really good level now, really helpful. John noted that in Barrow in the 1970s, there was a subculture where the staff looked down on the PIs and scientists, but that is not true here. The upper level management sets the tone, and the tone is very good. The top management must not get isolated from the scientists, as was the case with Max Brewer in Barrow in the 1970s.
The suggestion box from the dining hall was opened and contained the following comment: the screen door on the entrance is hung opposite from the main door. Is it possible to change this?
Persons who attended and/or provided comments: