This summer I went to Churchill, Manitoba to do research for my undergraduate thesis. My initial project was looking to model mean depth of lakes using differences in the thermal amplitude of the water. However, I learned that while you can plan well in advance, when you are out in the field anything can happen. There are so many other factors that you cannot control and that means things never go as planned. I learned that your experimental design should always account for Murphy’s law “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” so you are best prepared for a worst case scenario. Long story short two weeks into my field work I quickly realized that this projected needed to be scrapped and I needed something new quick.
After talking it over with my supervisor we came up with a project that piggy backed and complimented the research that the masters student who was up with me was conducting. This led me into the world of Lichen. The masters student was trying to inventory the amount of lichen in certain tundra habitats as well as estimate the amount of water that is held and evaporated from Lichen. I ended up trying to use thermal imagery to model the soil heat flux and then calculate the theoretical evaporation.
Research aside my nearly two months in Churchill were some of funnest times I have ever had in my life. I met so many awesome people from all over the world and enjoyed talking and hanging out with all of them. The people aside the sights in Churchill are amazing. I checked two things off my bucket list the first is seeing a polar bear and the second is witnessing the Northern Lights.
If that isn’t enough the landscape is spectacular and a sight to see. Everyday in Churchill was an adventure and the scenery was top notch. When you think tundra or subarctic I feel like many think of gloomy frigidness and vegetative genocide. This is not the case, especially in the warmer parts of the year.
My biggest qualm is the unpleasant journey from Winnipeg to Churchill. The VIA Rail Train is incredibly long and incredibly slow. At some points you can literally cover twice as much distance walking. Obviously there is a reason the train cannot go fast which relates to uneven surfaces and melting permafrost but it can still be frustrating.
All in all I learned that things are not going to go as expected and that polar bears do not drink coca cola.