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  Field Notes From
Carbon Cycle



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Carbon Cycle On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Tim Appenzeller



Carbon Cycle On Assignment

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From Photographer

Peter Essick



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mark Thiessen (top) and Brian Strauss


 

Carbon Cycle

Field Notes From Author
Tim Appenzeller

Best Worst Quirkiest
    I went out with an ecologist who studies the growth rate of trees, that are suffering from moisture stress. It was a glorious September day in Alaska. The birches were yellow. The fireweed was bright red, and sandhill cranes were squawking as they flew south. The Bonanza Creek Research Forest overlooks the wide valley of the Tanana River. I could see Mount McKinley in the distance.

    While I was running at the end of the day through some woods near the University of Alaska, somebody threw a rock through the window of my rental car and broke in. The glove compartment was open, but somehow they missed my wallet. It was strange because it turned out that they didn't take a thing.

    I joined a group of University of Alaska researchers on the Tanana River—a big, fast-flowing wilderness river near Fairbanks—to investigate the state of the permafrost, which holds a lot of carbon. We were headed back from about 20 miles (30 kilometers) downstream when the boat's fuel pump broke. So two technicians and I took turns manually pumping fuel into the engine by squeezing a rubber bulb. It took more than an hour of constant squeezing to make it back, and my right hand was exhausted. Not your usual case of writer's cramp.

   


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