Friday, July 20, 2012

Collaborators welcome!

The NGEE Arctic project has many objectives as we deliver a process-rich model of terrestrial ecosystems for inclusion into Earth System Models. While that is our primary focus, we are also committed to providing a resource that other scientists can use.  Together, we can pursue similar goals in the Arctic.

Ken Williams (LBNL) is one such person who, along with Derek Lovley (UMass), approached our team earlier this spring with an idea which would utilize our field sites in Barrow. Having discussed their ideas on the telephone, we then asked that they provide a written scope of research that described what they wanted to do, why, how it would complement the NGEE Arctic project, and a description of proposed measurements. We also asked for a list of potential safety considerations. Once we had completed discussions and approved his work plan, Ken began his preparations for the trip to Alaska.

This week, Ken is prepared to install graphite anode-cathode sensors to monitor microbial metabolism at locations along the Site 0 transect. His boxes of equipment eventually arrived and we spent the morning unpacking and sorting various probes, electronics, data loggers, and equipment housings. Ken is going to place sensors at three locations along the transect; low-center, high-center, and flat-center (or transitional polygons). These three types of ice-wedge polygons have distinct hydrology and geochemistry.  Ken reasons that such differences will be reflected in the timing or magnitude of microbial metabolism. Within each of the polygon types, Ken will be monitoring trough, rim, and center locations.

Ken and I spent the afternoon transporting all his equipment to the field, including three deep-cycle marine batteries. The use of wheelbarrows, at least along the trail mat and wooden boardwalk, was a pretty effective way of moving items from the truck to the field shed and ultimately out to an area adjacent to the transect. From there it was a matter of carrying items carefully across the tundra. This was no easy task, but one we carefully completed in a few hours. It was then up to Ken to install electrodes, wire them appropriately to data loggers, and collect other ancillary data like soil temperature, thaw depth, etc.

I'll post additional information on Ken's activities in the future. More information about the research of Ken, Derek, and their colleagues can be found in several recent publications. The one that I am most familiar with is the Williams et al. article published in 2010 in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

Finally, we welcome other potential collaborators to contact us directly or through the collaborators page at our NGEE Arctic web site. We can also provide (with discussion and agreement across our team) water, plant, and soil samples...assuming all required permits are completed and in place before distribution of materials. We'd like to hear from you!