Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lunch over Northern Canada

This is a work related blog entry but it was a pretty cool day. I went out for a few hours around lunch time with some NOAA pilots that have been in AK for the past 2 weeks. They are here with an aircraft that is equiped with instrumentation that uses gamma radiation to measure the amount of water in the snowpack. There are a few hundred flight lines around the state that are roughly 10 miles long. They fly the lines at an altitude of 500 feet above ground level and obtain an average snow water equivalent for each flight line. This info provides insight into how much water is locked up in the snowpack and this is used by the National Weather Service to produce river/flood forecasts and spring flood outlooks.

We headed a few hundred miles northeast of Fairbanks and flew 10 flight lines over the northern Yukon Territory. It was a great way to spend a Tuesday afternoon lunch--what a rough job.

This is the swath along the AK-Canada border. Yes--the entire border is marked even though there are no roads or towns for hundreds of miles. Why??

We flew 500 feet above the ground which was close enough to see tons of animal tracks. We only saw a couple of moose. I was hoping to see a cranky bear that had just stumbled out of its den after a long winter... The scenery was awesome in this remote and inaccessable country.

Here is the NOAA airborne gamma plane at the Fairbanks airport.

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