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> So what are we doing here??
post Jul 19 2005, 06:49 AM
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We have spent the last week familiarizing ourselves with the arctic environment. We have learned about safety, geology, and geography of the area. Tomorrow we will pick up our gear and go by boat to our study site, Kapp Linne.
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Where we are going

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aerial photo of study site
Much of the work that we will be doing involves cores of sediments from Lake Linne, an arctic lake at our site. Every year a layer of sediment is deposited at the bottom of this lake and these layers tell us a story about changes that have occurred over the past years with respect to climate. You might have heard about how people can look at rings of a tree and reconstruct past climatic conditions. Each year a ring of a tree is formed and it is usually bigger if the growing conditions are good and it is smaller if the tree is stressed. Well in the high arctic there are no trees but the sediments that are deposited yearly can also tell us about past climatic conditions. The thing we are trying to understand is how these layers are deposited under different climatic conditions so we can reconstruct the climatic conditions of the past. We will be measuring the sediment coming into the lake on a daily and weekly basis using sediment traps. We will be measuring the flow of water into and out of the lake. Temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and turbidity (how clear the water is) will be measured at different depths of the lake. We will be looking at the glacier that whose melt water supply the lake with water. When you look at this type of system you try answering many different questions. Some include: How much water is melts from the glacier each year? How much sediment gets carried into the lake each year? How are the sediments deposited at the bottom of the lake and where are they deposited? How do different meteorological events (rainstorms, warm weather, snowstorms) effect the deposition of sediments? The big question that we are trying to answer once we understand the processess that lead to the formation of these cores is "How accurately can these cores represent the past and present climate of the high arctic". This will allow us to gauge the current warming trend to past warming events.

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sediment core

So the next four weeks we will be looking to collect data to help answer some of the questions. What we are doing is putting a puzzle together to understand a story. The story is told by the layers in the sediment in the lake. Each study that we complete gives us a piece of the story that helps us understand it. The more data we collect the more complete the story will be.
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