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Victor, Idaho - Jackson, Wyoming
Kevin is a passionate fishing guide and photographer who specializes in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

April 28, 2010

MidCurrent features yours truly. Kevin Emery. Fly Fishing Photographers.


FLY FISHING AND PHOTOGRAPHY belong together. After all, it's a sport based on observation, and few of us don't hold a scrapbook of fine images in our heads.
MidCurrent's Fly Fishing Photography section features artists who've fully drawn subtle connections between fly fishers, water, and light, and who've captured a sense of place.


Kevin Emery Photography
Kevin S. Emery has a passion for photography that runs even deeper than his desire to cast streamers. As a photographer and international mountaineering and fishing guide, his assignments have taken him to remote locations in Antarctica, Greenland, India, and right to his home in the Tetons. Guiding for over 15 years has taught Kevin that you are never in control of a fleeting moment. "You have to seize that moment, capture it in a digital image, or settle for a mental one." The same can be said for his reckless abandon when wielding a six-weight with a sink-tip and a Zoo Cougar.

April 13, 2010

Bureau of Reclamation to Announce a New Approach toward the "Teton Dam" Study

Bureau of Reclamation to Announce a New Approach

toward the "Teton Dam" Study:


Public Invited to Meeting April 20th


Last year, the state of Idaho allocated $400,000 in matching funds for the BOR to study the feasibility of rebuilding the Teton Dam in the Teton River canyon, or building an off-channel dam at another location in the basin. After many strategic discussions with American Rivers, TU, and Idaho Rivers United about including cheaper, less environmentally damaging alternatives to the rebuilding of the Teton Dam, the BOR has developed a "Henrys Fork Special Study Framework" which will focus on conservation and changes in water management, as well as storage alternatives, using a collaborative stakeholder-driven approach.

The BOR plans to unveil its new strategy at the next meeting of the Henrys Fork Watershed Council on Tuesday, April 20th at the Mountain View Inn (formerly Best Western CottonTree) Conference Center in Rexburg . This meeting is open to the Public. For detailed schedule, click here to be directed to the HFWC website and click the "meeting schedule" tab at the top of the page.

Cross Your Fingers For A Cool, Wet Spring To Improve Water Supply Outlook for Teton Basin

Cross Your Fingers For A Cool, Wet Spring

To Improve Water Supply Outlook for Teton Basin

snowy scene 2

(NRCS News Release, April 6, 2010)

Snow survey data collected across Idaho by the Natural Resources Conservation Service indicate the late March storms brought little relief to Idaho's water supply outlook. The snow that fell in Idaho's mountains dropped between 1-4 inches of water content, but not enough to solve the water supply shortages that will occur in most drainages.

"A slow defrost is what we need to help salvage this year's water supply," said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist for NRCS. "A wet, cool spring would reduce and delay the irrigation demand, extending the limited water supply."

April 1 snowpacks across Idaho range from 50 to 75% of average. Snowpacks will reach their peaks within the next few weeks and runoff will begin. Cool temperatures would delay the snowmelt and spring moisture would decrease the early-season demand for irrigation water.

For the Upper Snake River Basin, including the Teton Basin and the Henry's Fork Basin, it has been one of the driest winters on record. March recorded just over half of the normal monthly precipitation putting the total precipitation since October 2009 at 61% of average. Reservoirs are storing as much as they can in this low snow year. "Water managers are storing as much water in reservoirs as they can but with the low snowpack there will likely be water supply shortages in some areas," Abramovich said. Streamflow forecasts range from 20 to 60% of average.

Click here for the full Upper Snake River/Teton Basin Water Supply Outlook.

Click here for the general summary for Idaho's Water Supply Outlook

View the full NRCS News Release;


April 11, 2010

GrIT Details: SCAT Field Work, Life

GrIT Details: SCAT Field Work, Life

The tiny black dots at four o'clock on the image are the SCAT's camp, to which they will return at day's end. All photos: Robin Davies

From: Kip Rithner
To: “Robin Davies”
Date: Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 2:33 PM

How’s it going out there in the wild?

What’s it like in that Tucker cab hour after hour? Do you listen to music or books on tape, talk about past and future exploits?

From: Robin Davies
To: “Kip Rithner”
Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 4:55 AM

When we are covering new ground that we expect to have crevasses, quite a lot of the time, it’s a bit intense in the cab. Allan has to continually watch the GPR screen and can’t afford to be distracted, Jen is watching our progress overlaid on the satellite imagery and looking at surrounding features to tie them into what she sees on her laptop screen, and I’m concentrating on trying to drive as straight a course as possible with the GPS. At other times on easier ground or ground we have covered before, we talk, tell stories and laugh a lot. But no book reading and definitely no singing!

Yesterday we found our way through what we thought might have been an impenetrable barrier of crevasses and reached a point that’s on the old route that will become the new way point B9F. From there it’s a clear run to B10 and then a few minor crevasses to check out before we reach our goal of B11. Hopefully we’ll do that today.

On the way back to camp we widened that day’s section of the route and double-checked a few features Allan had seen on the GPR until he was happy and gave the route his approval. From there Kevin parked up his skidoo and joined us in the Tucker to boogie on back to camp at an exhilarating 10mph!

This is what the SCAT camp looks like. Each person has a tent like the one shown at left. Behind the orange tucker, the brown wannigan, various cargo items and the black outhouse.

After a long day, Jen Mercer helps Kevin Emery wash his hair while Allan Delaney looks on from inside the wannigan.

Robin explains, "Enjoying a meal cooked by Allan, Asian shrimp soup, after a successful day." This shot is taken inside the brown wannigan, but the SCAT sleeps outside in the tents.


GrIT details: Threading the Needle

GrIT details: Threading the Needle

Robin Davies (left) and Kevin Emery probe a crevasse, a combined tactic that helps the team more quickly identify the strike angle and width of the crevasse. Photo: Jen Mercer

During the last few days, the Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Team (SCAT) has passed out more flags than the Grand Marshall at a Fourth of July parade. Of course, the flags fluttering in SCAT’s wake are of the black variety used to mark crevasses.

The team is picking its way through some pretty tumbled territory on the Greenland ice sheet. ”It was a difficult day today for the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) team,” Allen Cornelison reported yesterday, 5 April. “But they did make some headway. They found multiple crevasses that were not on the satellite imagery.”

"Kevin on the skidoo next to crossed black flags marking a crevasse," Robin explains. "Look closely and you’ll see a line of whiter patches of snow running in a line at 45 degrees across the picture. That’s the line of the crevasse: it’s a wide one with a sagging bridge. We couldn’t see it at all at the point were Allen stopped us with the GPR (were Kevin is) but looking back from higher up the slope it became obvious. This crevasse is one side of the eye of the needle." Photo: Robin Davies

Allen’s report a day earlier mentioned SCAT had found a crevasse that had opened up to 12 feet wide, with a sagging bridge that Allan Delaney could see on the GPR imagery—a common occurrence in Antarctica, but a first in Greenland for the radar expert, Cornelison mentioned.

We heard from Robin Davies later: “We had to find a route that took us between two parallel crevasses. We zig-zagged back and forth, turning each time the GPR detected the crevasses, until we made it through. A technique we refer to as “threading the needle.”

Crevasse avoidance made for a lot of zig-zags. “Those of us watching the tracker this evening thought they had turned around because they could not get through,” Cornelison remarked. “But as it turns out, it was just time to come back to camp. This is decent news: they were not stopped in their tracks.”

SCAT Track: The green dots depict “bread crumbs” left by the SCAT along the route they’ve travelled. The blue line is the 2008 GrIT route. Image: Allen Cornelison

That these crevasses were undetected by satellite suggests just how important the SCAT’s job is prior to the inland traverse start-up. Nothing can replace boots-on-the-ground, especially boots belonging to these fine people: Allan Delaney, a retired CRREL radar expert, who pioneered ground-penetrating radar crevasse detection techniques while leading the United States Antarctic Program’s (USAP) effort to find a safe route to the South Pole, and who was recently coaxed from retirement to continue contributing to the GrIT; Jen Mercer, an earth sciences PhD and USAP research veteran; Kevin Emery, expert rock-climber and mountaineer, who has taught a myriad of people to explore high-altitude, difficult terrain all over the world, including the USAP; and Robin Davies—well, the polar chapter in his career began with the British Antarctic Survey in 1974, but it is only one of many storied adventures.

Clockwise from left: Jen Mercer, Allan Delaney, Kevin Emery, and Robin Davies take a break from route-making. Photo: Robin Davies


GrIT Details: Sled Mobility Tests

GrIT Details: Sled Mobility Tests

Meanwhile, Back at the Transition . . .

Unloading the first of two 60-ft sleds to be used for mobility tests. Looking south to the icecap, the pointed hill on the skyline is the ramp. Photo: Robin Davies

Unloading the first of two 60-ft sleds. Looking south to the icecap, the pointed hill on the skyline is the ramp. Photo: Robin Davies

While the SCAT (Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Team) chugs slowly across the first leg of the traverse route to Summit looking for hidden hazards, back at Thule Air Base, a set of experiments will soon begin. The goal: to discover how to maximize operational efficiency at the sled level. CRREL’s Jim Lever, who is running the technical side of this effort, collaborated with PFS’ Allen Cornelison to provide the following background on sled mobility tests, which will begin out at the transition later in the week.

We want to reduce the over-snow sliding friction of the fuel-bladder sleds to increase the payload GrIT can tow to Summit. Sled temperature plays a dominant role: the warmer the sled the lower the sliding friction. Warming the sleds is a challenge at the low temperatures encountered on the Greenland ice sheet, and we will try two approaches.

1. One sled will have black covers over the two fuel bladders to absorb the sun’s energy to help warm the fuel and consequently the sled. The image below shows this sled with the rear 3,000-gallon bladder partially filled. This passive heating is simple and inexpensive and should work well during the long daylight hours when skies are clear.

A sled with two fuel bladders covered in back material waits at the transition. The ramp can be seen behind the truck. Photo: Jim Lever

2. The other sled will have electric heating blankets under its two bladders. The image below shows it being assembled prior to transport to the ice edge. The four blankets are rated at 1,700 watts each and will be connected to a 15,000 watt diesel-powered generator. The generator is over-sized to accommodate reduced power output at high altitude (up to 10,000 ft) expected along the route.

Jim Lever prepares the second prototype sled in the warehouse at Thule. Photo: Allen Cornelison

Each sled contains 46 thermocouples to measure the sled-snow interface temperature along its length (you can see them disappear under the heating blankets in the picture above). Other sensors will measure towing forces, air and bladder temperatures, solar insolation (how much energy is available from the sun), travel speed and altitude. A datalogger stores all these data until Jim downloads them to his computer for analysis.

If all goes well, we will learn how to build the next generation of sleds to increase the efficiency and hence payback of GrIT for fuel and cargo delivery to Summit.

The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.

GrIT contact:
Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar Services
Construction/Operations manager
Jay at polarfield.com


GrIT Details: SCAT SitRep 2 April

GrIT Details: SCAT SitRep 2 April

The Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Team (SCAT) stops a few miles out on the ice sheet to ensure the rig is towing well. Brad Johnson (traverse manager) and Erik Nichols (carpenter) have accompanied the SCAT for the first few miles to help with adjustments. The ramp is visible between the Case (left) and the outhouse at rear of traverse rig. All photos: Robin Davies

2 April 2010 20:00 Thule Local

Flagged to: B6

GPS Coordinates: N 76 26.568 W 66 6.110

Visibility: Unlimited

Sky: Clear

Wind: SW 5mph

Temp: Unreported but colder than April 1st

Comments:

All is going well. The team found crevasses near B5 today. There is now a slight route change which has moved B5 to the south.

The wannigan is quite warm and needs to be vented when the heater is on. Tomorrow they will move camp up to B6 and prospect further up the route. A weather forecast check shows our area to be clear through Wednesday with light winds. Thursday promises increasing clouds and wind speeds to 28k.

Email from Robin Davies, PFS equipment operator/mechanic:

“It went great yesterday; the tucker pulled the setup no problem at all. Once the surface smoothed out we were doing 6-7.5mph in second gear at 2,000 rpm. Haven’t found any problems with our camp set up yet and it’s a gloriously sunny day up here this morning.”

Robin writes, "It was such a perfect, still evening at our first camp, we just had to get the BBQ out. It was great!" Behind Kevin, the brown box is the camping wannigan, which houses kitchen facilities and supplies.

Email from Allan Delaney (radar expert):

“Internet on the Greenland ice sheet.

“All is well. Cold at night. Bright sunshine today with some wind. A cold day for Kevin. We’ve worked to B6 and returned to camp. There are two substantial crevasses which parallel both the old route and the new diversion. All well marked by Kevin after discovery by Jen with a zig-zag survey. No problem for passage. Glad to hear that SCAT [the new name the GPR team has adopted] is a big hit.”

The distance traveled today: about 12 miles.—Alan Cornelison

The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.

GrIT contact:
Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar Services Construction/Operations manager
Jay at polarfield.com

GrIT details: GPR team Departs for Survey

GrIT details: GPR team Departs for Survey

The GPR team goes SCAT: Jen, Allan, Robin, Kevin. Photo: Robin Davies

On Thursday, 1 April, the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey team–rechristened, perhaps only temporarily, the “Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Technicians,” or SCAT–departed Thule, made their final approach to the transition, and climbed on to the ice sheet to finish flagging a safe route for the first 60 miles of the Greenland Inland Traverse (GrIT) path to Summit. In addition to the instruments and equipment that will enable them to do their jobs, they tow life support: the camping wannigan (a large camp box with kitchen and warm-up facilities), the orange sled, and a fuel bladder on a plastic fuel sled. They have 150 lbs of propane, about 700 gallons of fuel and about a month of food.

The team members are Kevin Emery (GrIT mountaineer), Jen Mercer (CRREL project manager), Allan Delaney (GPR specialist) and Robin Davies (operator and mechanic, with too many other qualifications to list).

On Tuesday, 30 March, while traveling between B3 and B4 waypoints (between 14 and 17 miles from the transition), the team encountered crevasses that were not apparent on the satellite imagery and which had not been encountered during the 2008 GPR survey. One crevasse was estimated to be one meter wide.

Allan checks a GPR record. That's Jen in the front seat. Photo: Robin Davies

The team found three other crevasses in the same area, more evidence of the changeable nature of the ice sheet margins. Kevin Emery used a 2.5 meter probe to explore these crevasses, but could not determine the width of the cracks, though he dug into the snow bridge to gain deeper penetration looking for the void. The team could not find safe passage through this area before returning to Thule to brainstorm with the entire GrIT team for possible solutions to the problem.

The results of their efforts can be seen in the track image below.

The small, light-blue marks are crevasse detection areas; they show the possible strike (the angle the crevasse is running along the hill). The thin, colored lines running quasi-horizontally depict crevasses seen with satellite imagery. The thick black lines show where the GPR team traveled while studying this area. The original route, the Tucker track, is the long, black line running diagonally from upper-mid-left to the lower-right corner. The lower right end of the track is B4, and shows where the team turned around to return to Thule. Image: GrIT team

After consulting with the GrIT team in Thule, we decided to look further south of the original route. On Wednesday, 31 March, the GPR team quickly found a way around the problem area, encountering a crevasse only 16 inches wide. We await good images of the new route, but can say that this change has actually straightened out the line from B2 to B4, decreasing the GrIT route by one mile, per Jen Mercer.

Jen carries flags to be loaded on the sleds. SCAT will probably use many black flags over the next week or so. Photo: Robin Davies

While the GPR team is on the ice, those of us in Thule now begin to focus on the sled mobility tests. More on that soon.—Allen Cornelison

The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.

GrIT contact:
Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar Services
Construction/Operations manager

GrIT Details: Day Trip

GrIT Details: Day Trip

Wind blows off the ice cap--and delays the departure of the GPR team.

Robin Davies sent a note this morning with some pictures from yesterday’s GrIT efforts near Thule Air Base in Greenland. Windy conditions, especially at the transition to the ice edge, have been cramping the GrIT team’s plans. But today, the GPR team looking for crevasses and other dangers on the first part of the route are hoping to make a long trip out on the ice sheet, “if the weather holds,” as Robin wrote.

A couple of miles from Thule, ground drifting obscures the road to the transition. Terminal moraines (rocky deposits showing the maximum advance of a glacier) are barely visible at the ice edge.

GrIT traverse lead Brad Johnson uses the Case Quadtrac to push snow off the road.

Kevin Emery (GrIT medic/mountaineer) uses the Tucker to groom the surface. The ramp (built long ago to ease access to the ice sheet) can be seen in the distance at left.

The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.

GrIT contact:
Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar Services
Construction/Operations manager

Jay at polarfield.com