Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tundra Time

A quick check of the Weather Channel app on my BlackBerry shows a seasonally warm and sunny forecast today for Knoxville, TN. Temperatures near 90F with just enough humidity to remind us that summer is around the corner for east Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.

That same Weather Channel app informs me that the forecast at my destination of Barrow, Alaska is 80F colder than Knoxville; and light snow currently falls across the North Slope. Sounds like it should be another great week as our NGEE Arctic team travels 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle!

If you are reading this blog for the first time, let me point out that the NGEE Arctic project is focused on better understanding high-latitude ecosystems for the purpose of improving climate prediction. Our team consists of scientists from across a range of disciplines and organizations. Participants in the NGEE Arctic project are from four of the Department of Energy national laboratories (ORNL, LANL, LBNL, and BNL) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The size and diversity of our team allows us to study and model complex surface and subsurface interactions that drive critical climate feedbacks in tundra ecosystems.

The scientific and technical breadth of our team gives us a unique capability to conduct integrated research in these complex, globally-important and sensitive ecosystems. Field and laboratory research in places like Barrow provides data that can then be used to develop and test models that will, in turn, enhance prediction of future climate. We have ecologists, hydrologists, geophysicists and others working with modelers to tackle this challenge.

Beginning today, various scientists involved in the NGEE Arctic project will be in Barrow until May 16th. Field activities will include laying out trail mat within sensitive areas of our research plots; installation of water sampling wells; and geophysical surveys. Other activities will prepare us for additional work in Barrow later in the summer. There will be plenty to keep our team busy in the next two weeks! UMIAQ will provide logistical support for our team just as they have during previous trips this year. Daily postings to our NGEE Arctic blog will highlight our many activities and provide a glimpse of our project as we conduct field research in the remote and interesting landscapes of the Arctic.