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Carbon and Water Cycles in the High Arctic

July 10-30, 2005 | Thule, Greenland


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John Sode Teacher
John Sode
Marshfield High School
Marshfield, Missouri

Jeff Welker Researcher
Jeff Welker
Environment and Natural Resources Institute
University of Alaska Anchorage

Listen to a brief description of the research project (presented by Janet Warburton on behalf of Jeff Welker who was not available) and teacher John Sode talking about his expectations of the field experience in this audio file from a recent TREC webinar. To listen, click the link below:

mp3 Audio - Webinar (880 K - MP3)

John, Jeff and the rest of the research team traveled to northwest Greenland to investigate the physical, chemical, and biological (PCB) processes that control carbon exchange between cold, dry terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere, in order to advance the understanding and the quantification of global carbon and water cycling.

The team focused on quantifying the coupling of the carbon and water cycles and the interacting PCB processes that control carbon exchange between cold, dry terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. They examined cold, dry ecosystems because: (1) understanding of carbon and water interrelationships and net carbon exchange is only rudimentary for this extreme environment, making it impossible to predict the vulnerability of this ecosystem to the expected anthropogenically-exacerbated warming; (2) these tundra systems are sufficiently simple allowing the quantification of all key components and the development of a system behavior conceptual model and (3) the vital role of unfrozen water in this cold, dry environment underlies the importance of thresholds (e.g. 0°C is a distinct threshold for water availability) and highly nonlinear interactions between PCB processes. Their discoveries will contribute to the understanding and the quantification of global carbon and water cycling, as well as to the understanding of extreme habitats on Earth. This research is part of a NSF-funded grant on biocomplexity.

For more information visit: http://depts.washington.edu/icylands/Thule/index.html

TREC teacher John Sode currently teaches physical science, applied biology, and chemistry for grades 9-12 at Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Missouri. Mr. Sode is interested in applying basic chemical and biological techniques to better understand the environment, as well as mathematical and computer modeling of natural processes. John has received various awards for his teaching and has participated in several research projects, including the Department of Commerce's Teacher at Sea program.

Mr. Sode believes TREC is a great way to make science "come alive" for students, and looks forward to building opportunities for students to witness science in action, to encourage students to be involved with science, and to support the professional development of science teachers.

Dr. Jeff Welker is a Professor of Biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His research program focuses on the physiological ecology of tundra and temperature plants, on the processes governing carbon, water and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems and on isotope biogeochemistry. Welker’s most recent studies include: climate warming effects on root growth responses of a tundra graminoid, the depiction of the snow depth effects on the annual nitrogen cycle in Alaskan arctic tundra, CO2 exchange responses of High Arctic ecosystems to long-term climate warming, isotopic records of changes long-lived Arctic plants, synthesis of climate change effects in the arctic and a synthesis of the processes governing shrub expansion in the Arctic.

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