Wednesday, August 15, 2012

All good things must come to an end...

Our NGEE Arctic team has had a great week. The ecosystem and climate modelers working on the project, together with ORNL and BER managers, began their introduction to the Arctic in Anchorage and then pressed on onto Nome, Council, and finally Barrow. We have covered a lot of ground...literally. Everyone has learned a lot about Arctic ecosystems and how we intend to study important processes in support of climate prediction.

We reinforced the goals of our project one last time today as the modelers took center stage and explained how model-experiment integration would be put into practice. Peter Thornton began with an introduction of the modeling goals of the project and was followed by brief presentations from Charlie Koven, Jitu Kumar, Chonggang Xu, Scott Painter, and Haruko Wainwright. Charlie focused on advancements that were needed in our ability to model important biogeochemical cycles and permafrost dynamics, while Jitu and Scott focused on the computational needs and requirements for our fine- and intermediate-scale models. It would be at these scales that much of our process understanding would be captured and then lessons learned transferred to climate grid-scale models. Chonggang provided an example of how this might be done by way of improved representation of nitrogen allocation in plants and adding new detail to how plant functional types are defined in dynamic vegetation models at Pan-Arctic to global scales. Haruko completed our presentations by discussing how she was providing spatial data sets for modelers by taking multi-scale data (i.e. remote sensing data and point measurements) and integrating those using Bayesian methods. Her talk focused on geophysical data and how ground penetrating radar, etc. were being combined with LiDAR, point measurements of thaw depth and snow cover to extrapolate important parameters to larger spatial scales.

Knowing that everyone would be leaving either tonight or on the morning flight to Fairbanks and beyond, we ended the day with a group dinner at Northern Lights restaurant. This was one last time to discuss our impressions of Alaska and how the NGEE Arctic project would progress in the coming months. It was great to interact with Mike Kuperberg, Gary Geernaert, Sharlene Weatherwax, and Martin Keller in such an informal setting. My thanks to everyone for taking time out of their busy schedules for this trip. Their input on the NGEE Arctic project is appreciated.

So, for now, this trip is considered a success and we will move forward from here. Our team has done a lot this year and while our season is not over, we certainly will soon be turning our attention to data analysis, interpretation, and comparison of results across the many disciplines involved in the project. We have our NGEE Arctic All-Hands meeting in December before the AGU meetings, so I need to begin preparation for that event.

I stay a few extra days in Barrow for field work and will continue to post updates throughout the week.