Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finishing Touches...

Today (Tuesday) started slower than most as I stayed behind, while others went to the field, to drop Cathy off at the airport. A morning flight leaves Barrow at 11:00am so I was able to say my goodbyes to Cathy and still be headed to the field by 10:30am. We will meet again sometime in June as Anna and Cathy return to Barrow during peak spring snow melt to assess patterns of surface water flow. The web cam that Bob Busey (UAF) installed last month at our field site will help determine this period of maximum snow melt.

Since I missed a couple of hours in the field already, I took a few extra minutes to drive through Barrow and the old Naval Arctic Research Laboratory (NARL) facilities and take pictures of buildings that our vegetation dynamics team would need to locate when they visit in June. Rich Norby (ORNL), Alistair Rogers (BNL), and others will begin to conduct studies to understand how nitrogen is allocated to structural and functional pools in Arctic plant species and how those patterns of nitrogen allocation govern rates of photosynthetic uptake of carbon dioxide. Chongang Xu (LANL) has developed an optimized nitrogen allocation model that takes into account variation in nitrogen distribution given changes in light, temperature, and elevated CO2 concentration. Chongang is in the process of validating this model now and, once complete, we will further test against data collected in Barrow. Results from these studies will improve our description of plant functional types (PFT) in ecosystem models and then ultimately in climate models like the Community Land Model.

By the time I got back out to the field site, Anna and Sasha had already completed installing two additional sampling wells. One more and they would call it a day, and we would begin moving supplies either back to storage or to Northern Air Cargo for shipment back to Fairbanks.

We leave Barrow later tonight after what was a good and productive week. Susan and her team will stay a few more days to continue geophysical characterization of our field plots. Hopefully she or others from that group will post updates to the NGEE Arctic blog or pictures from their measurement campaign. We have all enjoyed our stay in Barrow and want to thank UMIAQ for providing logistical support. A special thanks to Lance, Glenn, Tony, Brower, and Michael for helping us out and making sure we had everything we needed to complete our science tasks.

We will post again next month, when we return to Barrow with our vegetation dynamics team. Until then, be safe and stay warm...