All posts by rebeccaregan

Waves of fun at Cape Cod!

After an adventurous week in Canada we all were eagerly awaiting the next phase of the trip, on the beaches of Cape Cod. Following a long day of driving we arrived in Orleans on Cape Cod the night of September 9th. As we transitioned into the next section of the semester, Marine Ecology, what better place to start than the beach! This past week was dedicated to making beach profiles, measuring sediment distributions, determining wave height and energy, all to establish the morphodynamic state of the beaches. We also surveyed the fauna found at high- and low-energy beaches. Although we were staying on the Massachusetts Bay side of Cape Cod, we compared the different energy levels and other morphometric features between the Bay and ocean side beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

In order to conduct a beach profile, it is necessary to first observe. We noted obvious features such as the shape of the beach, traffic of people, and even birds. Then we went more in depth by measuring sections in which there was a change of slope. This allowed us to divide the beach into its component parts and note changes the in fauna from one part to another. The two beaches we observed were Skaket beach located on the Bay side and Nauset Light beach on the ocean side. We concluded that Skaket beach consisted of low energy system where fauna such as lady crabs, hermit crabs, razor clams, and various algae were present because it was a stable environment. Nauset Beach on the other hand had large waves and no obvious fauna suggesting a high energy environment.

When we weren’t making beach profiles we took advantage of staying right on the beach. We hung out in the sun, went swimming, and most importantly found time to relax. We even saw a few seals! Saturday, September 15 marked the day of our halfway point of the semester. It’s crazy to think of all that we’ve accomplished in 5 whole weeks! The next 10 days will be spent at the Darling Marine Center located in Walpole, Maine, where we will continue our studies on estuaries, rocky intertidal habitats, and mudflats.

Group of students at mountain hut

Mount Washington: Out of Our Comfort Zone and into the Clouds

Mount Washington Summit, “Home of the World’s Worst Weather”

This past week allowed many of us to step out of our comfort zone and test our limits in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Mount Washington is the highest peak in northeastern North America and known as the “Home of the World’s Worse Weather.” After riding in a van to the summit, we were given the opportunity to descend from the Alpine Garden to Lakes of the Clouds. Standing right on the ridge, we witnessed the “orographic effect” first hand. It occurs when cold air rises over the top of the ridge, forming a cloud. Then, as the air descends the other side of the ridge, the air warms and the cloud vaporizes. Although it was foggy, the experience was still exhilarating!

Environmental Science Semester students hiking at headwall of Huntington Ravine

We spent the night at the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Lakes of the Clouds Hut. We continued our journey down Tuckerman’s Ravine bright and early the next morning. About half way down, we stopped for a “yellow notebook moment” where we applied what we previously learned to our observations.

yellow field notebook
Rite in the Rain yellow field notebook

Tuckerman’s Ravine is a glacial cirque. This means the glacier carved out the side of the mountain. Imagine a scoop carving out a giant mound of ice cream, slowly, over thousands of years. In this moment it was amazing to see that all of our hard work really paid off. Although it was a long, intense journey down, the views of the cirque and alpine environment were absolutely gorgeous. It was something many of us have never been given the chance to experience. So far, this opportunity has allowed us to explore the world from a much different perspective!

Group of students at mountain hut
Environmental Science Semester students and faculty at AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut on Mount Washington, NH

As the first week comes to an end, we’re off to our next stop: Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine.

-Becca Regan