Originally we thought that the 12 hour layover in Beijing made sense – we’d have a chance to rest in an airport hotel and be able to arrive in Irkutsk rested and ready to do the necessary shopping before the last leg of travel out to the field station at Bolshie Koty. We didn’t realize that we had to leave security in order to pick up our bags, re-check them, wait 5 hours to get our boarding passes, and go back through security and customs… Well, live and learn!
Forty hours after leaving California, Ed, Mariska, Kara and I arrived at Bolshie Koty!
The boat ride on Irkutsk State University’s research cutter Kozhov, packed with gear and supplies for the station, was smooth and a little warmer than it looked. There was a bit of fog and overcast, but it is such a pleasure to be back here that we managed to keep our eyes open (for most of the ride) and take in the sights.
As expected, the lab looks great, thanks to much hard work from the first wave of arrivals and our friends at ISU, and we all managed to keep ourselves awake long enough to have a great meal at the station with our colleagues who have already been here for several weeks.
The wildflowers are not as prolific as they were last year – this could be any number of environmental factors at work of course, but we think it may have something to do with a certain somebody who is making herself very conspicuous inside the fence this year!
All of us have had quite a lot of sleep now, Kara’s lost suitcase seems to be finding its way to us (which is making her so happy I’d call her effervescent this afternoon!), and we got some new space set up in the main building today. With the new arrivals, the wet lab is too active to get a bunch of computers set up in there, so our friends at ISU’s field station helped us to figure out what will be our “computational HQ” for the next couple weeks. Naturally, it has a view to inspire us!
We are hopeful that we’ll intersect with Anson Mackay, George Swann and others from the UK who are cruising the lake this summer and may come into Bolshie Koty in August. Their work should shed light on the nutrient dynamics in the lake, and we are anxious to see what they find!
So now with some sleep and a great place to work, we are ready to do some work on plankton and statistics! This summer I’m working on spatial patterns in plankton, a project Marianne is leading, looking forward to collaborating more with Ted and others to understand Saprolegnia outbreaks in plankton, and we’ll be talking about some new analyses of ISU’s long-term plankton data that would support the plankton modeling work that Elena and Chris are leading. With this kind of inspiration in front of me, and so many knowledgeable Russian and American colleagues at hand, new projects will emerge everyday and the challenge is always to choose just a few!