Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 3: Drilled!

The first official day on the job!

6 am yoga followed by a safety debriefing and project planning, and then the fun stuff started!
Spot the Ptarmigan!

One of the projects I'm going to be involved with (really it's Caleigh's project, but I'm doing some field work when she's not here) is the ITEX (International Tundra Experiment) Plant Response. The set up consists of plots on the tundra in different areas - upland, near water, near rocks. The plots are either control plots open to the elements with no manipulation except what is needed to take the temperature and CO2 measurements. The other plots are "Greenhouse" plots which are surrounded by a sheet of glass and experienced warmer temperatures due to the greenhouse effect. The two are compared to see what the effect of warmer temperatures will be on the tundra plants. Some of the sights have been monitored for 11 years, some for 5 and a couple that are new this year. When we look at the sites, we are looking for specific growth stages (i.e. fully green leaves, budding and flowering, loss of leaves) and measure the air temperature, the temperature underground as well as determine the respiration of the system by measuring CO2. 

Determining the respiration is a classic ecological study. The CO2 released from the system is measured when the plants are exposed to light. In the light, both photosynthesis and respiration occurs. Then the plants are put in darkness (covered) and the CO2 is measured again. In the dark only respiration occurs. The difference in the CO2 between the light and the dark is a measure of photosynthesis.

I'll update you with some pictures of the sites a bit later since I will be working on this all summer.

LeeAnn and Steve drilling the ice on Ramsay Lake.  

After that, we (being myself, my supervisor at CNSC, LeeAnn, and another student, Steve) went out to Ramsay Lake, which is one of the larger lakes in the region. We drilled a hole into the ice (They trusted me with a drill!!! A massive red drill!) and then measured the thickness of the ice, which right now is around 120 cm where we drilled. 

Close up of ice flying off of the drill. Notice how blue the ice is. The blue comes from the ice being saturated with water which happens at the end of the season. In winter, there is snow on top of the ice, then a layer of white ice that is porous ice made from water seeping into the snow and freezing then a grey ice below that. 
It was odd to be out there on this blue, water saturated ice with warm winds blowing across my face and an air temperature of 17C. It is definitely melting though and will be gone soon.

A look down an ice hole! 

1 comment:

  1. Nice! That ice just makes me want to up and leave Cleveland and become a hermit just for the clarity in the landscape.