Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Science time...

Now that everyone has left, I'll be spending some time in the field. I have plenty to do and only a few days to accomplish my assigned tasks. I am not alone, however, in that Alistair Rogers is in the field taking photosynthesis measurements; Victoria Sloan is sampling roots; and Margaret Torn has a group that includes Lydia Smith, Bryan Curtis, Mark Conrad, and Melanie Hahn. Mark and Melanie left earlier in the week, but Lydia and Bryan are staying extremely busy. Lydia is taking gas and water samples from across our field plots for CO2 and CH4 flux analysis and for collecting gas samples for 14C determinations. This will give some indication as to the age or lability of compounds that are giving rise to these two greenhouse gases. Lydia and Bryan are also collecting information on soil moisture, as well as collecting water samples for analysis. These individuals are great to work with as they seem to find the same excitement as I do in conducting research in this environment.

My day was spent collecting water samples in collaboration with Ken Williams from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Ken is working to better understand the geochemical controls on microbial metabolism. I posted a blog about this effort back in mid-July.
Ken and I will be returning sometime in late September or early October. Today, I am collecting water samples from each of two depths in features representative of centers, edges, and troughs from low-centered and flat-top polygons. These samples will be analyzed for reduced and oxidized forms of iron in water itself and then in the soil or sediments. The collaboration with NGEE Arctic is such that we can provide samples, access to field plots or our transect for other agency or university research. This leveraging of resources with the NGEE project makes good sense as research is, without access to a well-funded project or established infrastructure, logistically expensive and technically challenging.