Friday, July 22, 2016

Let the Field Research Campaign Begin!

The NGEE Arctic project ( has enjoyed five successful field seasons working at our research site near Barrow, Alaska. This year – thanks to the hard work of many people – we begin a new chapter in our efforts to integrate field and laboratory studies in support of advancing climate model development for the Arctic. Our team is expanding to include field sites outside Nome on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska.

While this is certainly not our first trip to Nome, it will be our largest. Several dozen of our scientists, students, and staff will travel to the area throughout the next few weeks. Our team will conduct a broad range of integrated research activities at an intensive field site along the Teller Road. We are thankful to the Sitnasuak Native Corporation for making this land available for our use. Other native corporations are being engaged to also identify field sites along the Kougarok and Council roads.


The NGEE Arctic team will, working first at the Teller site, use an array of geophysical approaches to establish interactions between permafrost and bedrock, and to examine the consequences of those interactions to watershed hydrology. Complementary studies of vegetation, biogeochemistry, and energy balance will help inform our understanding of Arctic tundra and provide insights for developing multi-scale numerical models for inclusion into climate models. Our goal is to better understand the fate of frozen soil organic matter (i.e., the permafrost carbon cycle) in a warming climate and incorporate critical feedbacks into models. We were fortunate to begin collecting initial datasets last year and will continue to expand on those with increasingly detailed field and modeling investigations of the Teller Road watershed.


The next three weeks will be a productive time for our team. Our planning has laid a foundation that we will continue to build upon, ensuring that our interdisciplinary science delivers on expectations and does so in a safe and efficient manner. We are thankful that while working thousands of miles away from our home institutions can be challenging, our team has the support and cooperation of people and facilities like Bob, Gretchen, Claudia, and others at the UAF Northwest Campus in Nome.

While the next few weeks will be busy ones, I’ll do my best to provide periodic updates on the science being conducted by our team and how those research results and acquired knowledge is incorporated into models, including global-scale Earth System Models.