Al Johnson's Cape Thompson Frost Scars

In 2003 Al Johson sent Gus Shaver data notebooks, maps and photographs of the Cape Thompson Frost Scar study for the years 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1972 and 1980 to be archived at the Arctic LTER (original documents and photos are held at the Ecosystems Center, MBL, Woods Hole, MA).
More information about this study is available at the Alaska Arctic Geoecological Atlas.

Eriophorum Tussock
Frost Scar 23-1 1961

Below are Al's emails to Gus:

    Emal Wednesday, October 08, 2003: Inventory of Ogotoruk Creek Frost Scar Study Materials as of 8 October 2003

    Dear Gus, Skip and Howard:

    I am sending you an inventory I have been making of the materials from the Frost Scar Study at Ogotoruk Creek.    This is not yet complete, but it is nearly so.    Please regard this as a work in pro Progress .


    1. A map (scale 1:20,000) of the Ogotoruk Creek Valley showing the location of all vegetation plots; the ones that are a part of this study are highlighted. 
    2. Twenty-one folders. Each folder contains all of the descriptive information, physical and biological, that was collected in the summer of 1961 when the frost scars were first marked, photographed and described. All subsequent photographs with their negatives are included as well.    Maps of the individual frost scars showing area and plant cover are included . The date of establishment is also given.   In a separate box more detailed physical and biological descriptions are shown NB. THE PAGES IN THIS BOX NEED TO COPIED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE PENCIL WRITING IS FAST FADING.   IN ADDITION MANY OF THE PLANT NAMES ARE ABBREVIATED AND NEED INTERPRETATION. 
    3. A field notebook for the 1961 summer is included; it shows the schema by which the frost scars were located in each plot. EXTREMELY VALUABLE! 
    4. Progress reports on the frost scar study.    These are the "official" ones that went to the AEC. There are two of them: 
      1. preliminary study by AWJ in 1960
      2. final progress report, 1962, by Bonita Neiland, AWJohnson and Ross Johnson
    5. Correspondence between Bonita Neiland and AW Johnson about the study (some other items are often included. ). 
    6. Field notebooks from several years, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1980 + transect data from 1972 (on separate sheets) 
    7. Soil data, primarily physical composition of soils related to frost scars, analyzed by Ohio State University

     I know that there are a few other minor items, but I'll have to locate them.   I hope that this is useful.

    Regards, Al

    Email December 31, 2003: Frost Scar Data


    Today, I am sending off a box containing most of the frost scar information from the work done at Ogotoruk Creek from 1960 to 1980. The box contains the following:

    1.  A folder which includes, for each of the frost scar plots:

    a)  A summary sheet that lists all of the relevant information for the frost scars of that plot.

    b)  The original (1961) descriptions of each frost scar for the plot. These original descriptions include a plan map of the scar on a two meter grid; a sheet of measurements and observations on each scar, including both physical and botanical information. Plant species are listed and cover values are estimated. Measurements of permafrost depths beneath and to the side of each scar are given. You will see other observations as recorded at the time of the original establishment.

    c)  Photographs of each scar taken in 1961, and for later years photographs of the scars of that plot, but not all plots were visited in each of the years. Only the 1961 year has photographs of all scars for all plots. Negatives are included for all years except 1961 where we were  not able to locate the negatives.

    d)  For some plots, sheets listing cover values of plants on scars in later years.   There are also some field books including cover values for some plots in some years, but I am sending those separately.

    2.  Bonita Neiland' s field book from 1961 which includes important information on how the scars were identified and marked; also some good permafrost data, and some of her observations on plants and related issues.

    3.  A map of the Ogotoruk Creek Valley showing the locations of all plots that were used in the study. This is a copy of the original which I am retaining until I am sure you have received everything in this shipment.  Without the map, we would not be able to relocate several of the plots, so this is very IMPORTANT.

    I have another smaller box that I am preparing to send, but I want to be sure that I have cleaned up all of the odds and ends before I send it off--another few days should do it.

    By the way, I have a letter from Bonita Neiland agreeing to sending you all of our data for archival purposes.  I will send you a copy ofthat letter for the record.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Al

    Email January 04, 2004: Box no. 2

    Dear Gus:

    I am sending you this week sometime (I'll confirm it when I do the shipping) the second and last box of materials on or about frost scars at Ogotoruk Creek. In addition there is some historical information that should be stored somewhere and it might as well be with the rest of this material. But before I get into that, let me add by way of clarification that the photographs from 1961 do not have the year written on the identifying tag in the field. They simply say, for example, 1-12; for all other years the tag will say 1-12 1964, or whatever the year was for that photograph--it's obvious when you look at the photos but I want to be clear about it.

    The material in box number 2:

    1. Progress reports for 1960 and 1961(dated 1962) for work on frost scars and related phenomena. There are several copies of each. The 1960 material was my preliminary assessment made from my observations in 1960.
    2. A brown envelope which contains, a field book for 1960, photographs of frost related phenomena, and slides of the same which served as the major source of observations from which the 1960 progress report was written. This envelope is so labeled.
    3. A green field book labeled "Cape Thompson 1959-1960."   This is mostly historical as you will see if you look at it .   But of interest generally, I think.
    4. Some pages copied from my 1964-1965 field book that contains data from 4 transects that were established to see it we can detect the occurrence of new frost scars . I am not sure how useful they were or are, but it we can relocate them it would be worth having a look. There are also some sheets of notebook paper comparing the original data with that collected in 1972. This needs some interpretation if anyone is interested in it.
    5. A field book labeled "1962 Ogotoruk Creek." This is primarily a list of the collections that John Packer and I made that summer for the determination of chromosome numbers . That work was eventually published in Botanisker Notiser. 1968. 121:403-456 with the title "Chromosome Numbers in the Flora of Ogotoruk Creek, N.W. Alaska. I am including a copy of the paper with the notebook. The voucher specimens are in the U. of Alberta Herbarium.
    6. A field book labeled "Field Book 1963-1964." This contains frost scar data for all of the scars for 18 of the plots.  The data are in the form of observations, not measurements . The other information in the book is not directly related, if at all, to the frost scar study. I no longer need it.
    7. A field book (yellow) labeled "1980" which contains observations on frost scars from 13 of the plots. The other material in the book is not any longer needed ..
    8. A brown envelope containing soils data provided by Ohio State University.
    9. A brown envelope containing the manuscript and accompanying slides of the paper given at the permafrost conference in Fairbanks in 1982.
    10. A brown envelope containing correspondence between A. W. Johnson and Bonita Neiland regarding the frost scar study .

    I may find other material but this is it for the moment. Best wishes and let me know if you have any questions.


    Email January 08, 2004: More stuff


    Today, I am sending the remaining Ogotoruk Creek material. I have previously given you a list of the contents . A couple of changes:

    1. I have copied the original transect data and have not included the field book itself.
    2. I am including the original map. On it, in pencil and labeled in ink are the locations of the four transects . They aren't obvious but you can find them, mostly in the lower portion of the map (toward the coast).
    3. I have included the letter from Bonita Neiland to which I referred earlier . Don't be surprised at the repetitions which she realizes are in there.

    Let me know when all of this stuff arrives. Thanks .


    Scanned Notebooks, Maps and Photos.

    A zip archive of the notebooks and photos that were scanned and organized into folders is available -> (Cape Thompson Frost

    Or browse  - Cape Thomson Files

    Inculded are:

    1. Frost Scar plots organized by plot vegetation type (WM = wet meadow, T = Tussock plot and FS = Frost Scar Ecotype) and plot number.  Within the folders are thumbnail indexes (index.html) to  jpg files which  include:

      1. Summery table of all the scars in the plot. 

      2. Photos taken of each frost scar between 1961 and 1980, including any or all of the following years, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1972 and 1980.  Photos are identified in the following way: Vegetation Type, plot number_scar number, year.  For example, WM1_1 61 would be the 1961 photo of plot 1 scar 1, which is located in a wet meadow vegetation type.  

      3. Sketches of the individual frost scars indicating their shape and vegetation cover.  May show changes over time; however, in some cases markings from multiple years are hard to distinguish in the scanned images.  

    2. Freeze Up folder with thumbnail index of photos taken from several plots during freeze-up in 1961.

    3. Study Locations and Info folder with thumbnail index of pages from the 1961 field notebook.  This includes important information concerning the location of scars within plots as well as notes on field procedures.

    4. Other files, including camera location, notes, maps and plot list.

    Also included is a map of Point Hope with native place names.