Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mission accomplished: Trail mat doing its job...

Those who follow our NGEE Arctic blog know that in June we positioned trail mat at our field sites on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). This was done, of course, to protect the tundra from repeated foot traffic due to the many scientists working in and among our various plots. The design of that trail mat was such that plants could grow up through the plastic lattice and survive, if not thrive, despite the frequent passage of heavy-footed researchers.

I was pleased to see that, just a month later, plants are growing up through the trail mat and that its presence was not hindering plant growth. On top of that, the trail mat was preventing any physical disturbance to the tundra. This was especially obvious in the wetter areas associated with our plots in low-centered polygons and in a nearby drained thaw lake basin. In fact, in some locations, the tundra vegetation is already beginning to obscure the presence of the trail mat altogether. So this seems to be a win-win situation; mission accomplished.