Monday, July 16, 2012

A Team Meeting Before Departure

Despite a busy travel schedule this summer, our NGEE Arctic team has made it a priority to hold regular meetings to discuss one aspect of the project or another. These meetings have usually come in the form of conference calls or small group discussions hosted by the modelers on the project and/or those on our biogeochemistry, hydrology, geophysics, and vegetation dynamics teams. These meetings are helpful to stay up-to-date on what each group is doing and to look for areas where opportunities for integration exist and/or where improved coordination across teams might be beneficial.

Anticipating this week's trip to our NGEE Arctic field site in Barrow, the ORNL team got together on Friday morning to discuss various aspects of the project. We reviewed progress made by the team in recent weeks; submission of our revised proposal, development of field and lab safety plans, and then upcoming events. We are already planning to visit DOE headquarters for a project briefing in the fall and then our Second Annual All-Hands meeting that will occur in early December, right before the AGU meetings in San Francisco.

During our meeting, we also received an update on progress by our biogeochemistry team. This update was given by David Graham who leads this area on behalf of the project. David and his team traveled to Barrow last April and used a hydraulic drill rig and SIPRE coring device to collect a number of high-quality permafrost cores. These cores were brought back to ORNL for subsequent analysis of carbon cycle processes under controlled laboratory conditions. The mechanisms controlling CO2 and CH4 flux are, for example, required for models and to understand potential biogeochemical feedbacks on climate.

David and his team, including Tommy Phelps, Dwayne Elias, and others have made significant progress in developing a setup for controlled thawing of permafrost cores. This group has worked with Charlotte Barbier at ORNL to simulate the design of a temperature-controlled system for imposing defined gradients of temperature for these cores and then using those computer simulations to guide the actually construction of a prototype. That process has worked well and the results of initial experiments look promising. David and his team will be refining the approach and then undertaking controlled warming experiments in the coming months.

Finally, David took the opportunity to introduce Taniya Roy Chowdury to our group. Taniya just recently completed her Ph.D. at Ohio State University and has joined David's team as a post-doctoral research associate. In that role she will work with David on the permafrost warming experiments. Taniya's background has prepared her well for this role as her Ph.D. Addressed mechanisms for methane emissions from wetlands. We welcome her as our newest member of the NGEE Arctic project.