In a couple weeks Toolik's researcher population will double and we will have more than one hundred researchers from all over the globe studying everything pertaining to the overall physical geography of the Toolik Lake area. While doing dishes after dinner tonight I spoke with a research assistant that told me about what she does out in the field. In the day she goes out and gathers samples from small plants (sorry that my biology is so vague). After that she returns to one of our many labs where she compares them with other past samples to see how they have changed, i.e., the carbon concentrations. Also, she's studying how much sunlight is absorbed by the leaves, using certain machines. This depends on the response of the plant and how much solar radiation is hitting the plant, which of course can be affected by the umm... state of the local atmosphere. For instance, there's a fire 20 miles south of here and that's clouding the skies. Although the smoke is not really visible to the naked eye it is altering what UV rays (food) hit the plant. The fire is also pumping things like carbon and sulfur in the air that the plants/us are subject to breathe. I asked her if the tundra is an efficient carbon sink for that recent fires in northern Alaska over the last few years and she says that's exactly what's being looked at. So here we have it... tundra, fires, carbon, plants. Shortly after we spoke a new flock of bird bioloigst/avian ecologists arrived by truck looking for some Kentucky Fried Pork Chops (pic will come this weekend) and a tent to crash in. Here come the beakers... I mean, sorry, this isn't Pole, this is Toolik... we call them 'users' now. I will do my best to pay a visit to some of our labs and show you exactly what's cooking.
If you're intersted in what's being seen around camp, check out this website from the Toolik Field Station Environmental Data Center. It lists which species were seen each day. Today we had red foxes stroll by.
The link below will provide you with a webcam shot of our camp.
Source: Arctic Long Term Ecological Research Site. WWW. June 2011. Click here for most recent.