Sunday 24 July 2011

Reindeer fence

They say that every LOFAR station has its own special wildlife problems. And KAIRA will probably also fit that pattern too. One issue (among many) for us will be reindeer. As a result, a reindeer fence will be erected around the perimeter of the high-band and low-band arrays.

Putting the fence out has been a mixed experience. In parts, the ground has been clear, soft and easy to work on. As can be seen from the photograph left, a long stretch on the western edge went out without any problems.

However, there are other sections where the work is not so easy. In part, along the eastern edge, the ground is extremely rocky and driving in the posts has been next to impossible. In other sections to the north, the ground is sodden and the fence needs to span a small meltwater stream. Everywhere in this area is marshy and the mosquitoes and midges swarm about in clouds.

To the south, the ground itself is okay, but the vegetation is extremely thick. In the photograph on the right, Marko Kauranen comes back from a shift with a tundra-cutting machine. This device (a bit like a strimmer, but with a large metal saw blade, rather than the nylon lines) is used to slice through the dense ground cover to allow us to place the posts more easily and to then get through with the machine to stretch out the fencing mesh.

Putting up the reindeer fence will be a fairly long task, as there is so much of it. It is our new 'background' task for days when the weather is too poor for working on the antennas or other parts of the site.

Photos: D. McKay-Bukowski

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