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Barrow, AlaskaCaribou Poker CreekLena River, SiberiaSvalbard, Norway Prince Patrick Island, Canada
Summit, Greenland
Toolik Lake | Models for the Arctic TundraPlant DiversityPollutantsSBI Project: Healy Icebreaker
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Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2004 6:53 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Canoeing to your garden site? Portaging your canoe over the rest of the frozen lake? You would expect taking care of plants in the tundra to be anything but ordinary, and that was exactly my experience today as I went with our "lab neighbors" from the Ecosystems Center. The center is located in Woods Hole, MA, at the Marine Biological Laboratory. This project, the Long Term Ecological Research fertilization plots, is under the direction of Gus Shaver. Erica, Jim, Carrie, and Joe let me tag along with them to see their research sites and see how they care for them. They forgot to mention that we were hauling the fertilizer in canoes to the ice in the center of the lake, hauling the canoes up on the ice and portaging them across the frozen part of Toolik Lake, then getting back in them on the far edge of the ice. All the while we were watching for thin patches, of course. It seems this group knows how to take routine work and turn it into an adventure.

Once we safely reached the opposite shore the nitrogen, phosphorous, and lime was hauled about one fourth of a mile across the tundra on a boardwalk. The boardwalk is much easier to walk across than the wobbly tussocks with their varying sizes of valleys in between. The boardwalk also keeps traffic off from the tundra, if you can keep your balance on the boards.

There were several plots to be fertilized, some with one type, some a combination of two. There are other plots that have greenhouses over them to increase their temperature, and plots with shade houses on them. There are even plots with fences to keep out heribivores like caribou and voles. All of the plots are to collect data on changes that could possibly happen in the Arctic. They are to help answer the "what ifs." Like, what if there was more nitrogen available in the tundra? What if there weren't herbivores like the caribou and voles eating at the tundra plants? What if there was a temperature change in the Arctic? Some of the plots have been studied here at Toolik Lake Field Station for more than 20 years.

The trek back was sunny and fun and relatively uneventful until we reached the opposite side of the lake. We had to place our canoes on the edge of the ice, jump in, and then paddle across to shore. All was well until the ice began to make a cracking sound. We looked down at the ice, screamed "jump in!" and all four of us in our canoe canoe scrambled in before the ice we were standing on broke off and skidded under our canoe. We pushed it aside with our paddles, and headed for shore. Who would have thought I'd have a canoe adventure in the Arctic!
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Toolik Field Station Lena River, Siberia Svalbard, Norway Summit, Greenland Prince Patrick Island, Canada Healy Icebreaker Caribou Poker Creek Barrow, Alaska