Tundra field work in winter


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To establish annual budgets for greenhouse gas fluxes is normally standard procedure, but for our Arctic ecosystems this has sometimes proven to be hard. Harsh weather conditions, inaccessible field sites and difficult terrain are obstacles scientists needs to deal with. During the project “Permafrost thaw – decadal responses to climate change” we follow three tussock tundra sites during, short time after and long time after permafrost thaw. The sites are located in the tundra areas near Abisko in the northern part of Sweden. Presently, researcher Dr. Mats P. Björkman and field assistant Hanna Axén are in the field capturing fluxes of methane and carbon dioxide at these sites. Despite temperature well below -20°C, the hard work is not the actually measurements, but the journey to reach the sites. The heavy loaded snow mobiles often get stuck on their way up the mountains, where the site at Latnjajaure is about 1000 m above sea-level, resulting in a lot of snow digging and frustration.

/Mats P. Björkman – APE@GU the tundra part of BLUES


Field season starts!


Mats P. Björkman, Haldor Lorimer-Olsson and Argus Pesqueda have headed up to Latnjajaure Field Station west of Abisko to start up this field season. It’s the second field season in the project ”Permafrost thaw – decadal responses to climate change”. If you want some flash backs from last year field work with Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES see these posts:

Fieldwork in Abisko

At last some work

Tent camp at Corrvosjaure

Calf marking at Corrvosjaure

Flux measurements at Corrvosjaure

Back in a sunny Tarfala

On the other side of Träsket

Kebnekaise from its best

Birches on the tundra

Dendrochronology?! On that?????

Last fieldwork for the season

Rain, snow and a bit of sun

– the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES

Climate Change Debates


Today we finalized the last (Thawing Permafrost – will it speed up climate change?) out of three ”Climate Change Debates” within the course NG0210 – Field course in the subarctic, where the students have been very engaged in their discussions and eager to convince their opponent side that ”I” have the strongest argument. I really enjoyed the arguments starting with ”Real Scienctist…” :-). Thanks for your dedication and really looking forward to read your final consensus report!

– Robert Björk

Birches on the tundra

One of the changes in the tundra under a changing climate is the advancement of mountain birches. This summer we have an Erasmus student Isabel Negri from Cardiff University who are revisiting birches in Latnjajaure that grows up to 600 m above current birch forest line. Most of the birches investigated was included in the study by Sundqvist et al. 2008 and Isabel is using the same methodology. Isabel will also include data from a similar set up in Norway, where to she will travel in August to join our collaborator Annika Hofgaard for a couple of weeks of fieldwork.

– the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES 

Kebnekaise from its best

We soon leaving Tarfala and fly back to Latnjajaure. This morning we take soil samples to study the microbial diversity and Kebnekaise really shows its best. I wonder if Kebnekaise could be more beautiful than this? However, we most likely will have a new highest peak in Sweden this year. The south peak is melting fast and is already under 2100m and still 1.5 months left of this year melting period! So in end of August the north peak could be Sweden’s highest peak!

-the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES 

On the other side of Träsket

After a day stranded in Abisko due to too poor visibility for the helicopter flight we finally made it to Lake Goaivujaure and our 3rd field site in the PermThaw project. Finally the weather turned to sun and with the sun came millions of mosquitosWe struggled a bit to locate the actual tussock tundra site at Lake Goaivojavri since we did not have any valid GPS points. With the help of old pictures we found a site that we thought must be the place and this was soon confirmed when we found remaining equipment fotgotten by the previous investigation 10 years ago. An old sledgehammer, a knife, a rubber mallet, a thermometer and a folding rule where still laying on the ground. After the site was established our efficient field assistants
Haldor Lorimer-Olsson and Stina Johlander started the vegetation investigation and the greenhouse gas flux measurements and practically put Dr. Mats Björkman out of work 🙄!

– the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES 

Back in a sunny Tarfala

Yesterday we went seperate ways with Dr Mats Björkman and field assistents Haldor Lorimer-Olsson and Stina Johlander flying to Goaivujaure (the 3rd PermThaw site) and Assoc prof Robert Björk and field assistent Saskia Bergmann flying to Tarfala Research Station. PhD student Ruud Scharn and Erasmus student Isabel Negri are still in Latnjajaure. Today the sun finally showed up here in Tarfala and we have started the manipulations of the plant community within the VR funded project ”Disentangeling the role of mycorrhiza for ecosystem processes”. This year we are cutting plant species that has certain type of mycorrhizal association. These different mycorrhiza has been theorized to have different influence on carbon and nitrogen cycling over a global scale. So next year we will do a isotope labelling experiment to test if these hypotheses holds on the plot scale. So now we hoping that the sun stays. 

– the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES

Flux measurements at Corrvosjaure

Saturday and our last day of work for the first campaign at Corrvosjaure. Dr Mats Björkman is measuring CO2 and CH4 fluxes from a former tussock tundra which now experience a shrubification of willows. We also found alot of Mountain birches together with other boreal species, notably the rare Polemonium acutiflorum. Corrvosjaure is one of three sites included in the MSCA-IF project ”PermThaw” where we investigate long-term impacts of permafrost degradation on ecosystem carbon and nitrogen dynamics and how ‘newly’ thawed ecosystems, that currently undergoes a transition from tussock tundra to shrub tundra, will respond to future climate change.

– the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES 

Tent camp at Corrvosjaure

After a few days at Latnjajaure Field Station we headed for Corrvosjaure to establish a new site within the MSCA-IF ”PermThaw”. Dr Mats Björkman is cooking dinner together with field assistent Haldor Lorimer-Olsson and Stina Johlander.

– the Alpine and Polar Ecology group of BLUES