PADDOCKWOOD, Saskatchewan -- While participating in the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) in 1994, I noticed a slight discrepancy between the goals and execution of the project. The project was to study to the boreal forests of northern Canada and their interactions with climate and biogeochemical cycles along a transect from the southern ecotone (boundary) with the North American prairie to the northern ecotone with the Arctic tundra.
BOREAS sites had been established near the southern ecotone in Saskatchewan. This was known as the Southern Study Area (SSA). The Northern Study Area (NSA), however, was in the area surrounding Thompson, Manitoba. It was nowhere near the northern ecotone.
Since I had the time and resources, I unilaterally extended the transect (for my work) to Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world. Churchill was conveniently located along the northern ecotone of the boreal forest.
Churchill is not easy to get to -- one cannot drive there. The only ways to reach it are by aircraft, ship (when the Hudson Bay is clear of ice), or by the Hudson Bay Railway, which then was part of the Canadian National. The train ride is an overnight affair, taking at least 14 hours.
I had a wonderful time talking to other travelers, some connected with the BOREAS project, some heading north to see polar bears, some stopping at villages along the way. One man I spent a lot of time talking to was going to a memorial service in Churchill for a friend. When I got tired of talking or napping, I went between cars and looked outside. The weather was cold and clear, and the views of the Aurora borealis amazing.
This series of photos begins shortly after sunrise on 28 July 1994 as the train approached Churchill.
NOTE ON THE MAP PROJECTION: The map above were produced using a Conformal Conic projection, which shows the surface of the Earth as if projected onto a cone. Conic projections are commonly used for mapping small portions of the Earth's surface. I give praise to Charles Culberson's excellent Versamap program which allows me to produce the base maps. They were shaded and annotated using Adobe Illustrator.
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