Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trace gas fluxes from the tundra

Melanie Hahn is a PhD student from UC Berkeley who is working on the NGEE Arctic project with Margaret Torn. This is Melanie's first trip to the Arctic and she is jumping in with both feet. Although she has yet to select a topic for her dissertation research, it is likely to encompass some combination of chamber-based measurements of CO2 and CH4, and eddy covariance. These two approaches will allow Melanie to tackle questions related to the controls on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from polygonal ground and scaling from plot to landscapes.

Today, Melanie and Margaret were introduced to the rigors of transporting equipment the roughly 2 km to our field site. I pulled into the parking area off Cake Eater Road just in time to catch Melanie and Margaret preparing to transport PVC collars for GHG measurements using static chambers. Melanie kept strapping collars onto her backpack until she was no longer visible from behind. Just a walking mass of PVC chambers.

If transporting a heavy load of plastic collars wasn't enough, the wind was blowing 25 to 30 miles an hour. Leave it to Mother Nature to make a hard job even harder. My understanding is that Melanie and Margaret were able to sample low- and high-center polygons, both rims and troughs, for CO2 and CH4 flux today. These measurements will continue throughout the summer and data will be used to parameterize and evaluate GHG flux estimates derived from climate models. Hopefully, Melanie will be able to post an update to the NGEE Arctic blog in which she describes in more detail the technique that she and Margaret used today.