Hi! My name is Ms. Harsh. Please join me as I travel to Churchill Canada to study climate change.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
No Polar Bears Yet!
We haven't seen any polar bears yet but our bear monitor Carley has seen them near her home. That is why we have the bars on the windows and all the doors open out- it makes it harder for the bears to get in.!We have been told that the chances are good that we will see them while we are here. I have seen the beluga whales from the airplane, but mainly I have seen the mosquitos and the black bugs. I haven't seen the northern lights yet because it has been cloudy and rainy- but we are assured that this is good weather for Churchill. Our day off is Friday and we are going to go on a tour so hopefully I will see something then. We have some really interesting people working here with us. They work for Shell Oil Company and as I go along I will introduce you to them. I have learned so much. Every night we have a lecture - last night it was on Permafrost and climate change.
Today we learned the importance of everyone needing to know the proper defintions and proper way to measure certain aspects of plants. We were looking over our data and it didn't match up. So we had tutorials!!!!! We each discussed our methods and we discovered that we were not doing it all the same. So ...... we discussed the methods and everyone agreed on the same definitions. We went out into the rain to make some more measurements. This time we were measuring a natural stand of trees. It is fascinating to see all the different species of lichens and nonvascluar plants growing on the surface. Once we arrived in the field, we had a second tutorial!!! Feeling confident we set out to measure the apical, laterals and buds of each seedling in the field. One thing that was very interesting is that most of the trees are missing limbs from the upwind side- this is called flagging.
The wind is so strong and abrasive that it damages the tissue and it dies. All of the seedlings are on the downwind side where they are protected by the tree stand. Tree stands have several layers- a skirt that get covers with snow, the saltation area- where all the limbs are dead, the flagging layer- where there are branches on one side then the top- when it is above the abrasive snow it becomes symmetrical again.
In the afternoon we finished up the plants and dug pits. The rain stopped but so did the wind, that is when the bugs came out!! In swarms!!! But science goes on rain or bugs!
When I get back we are going to work on measuring and proper units. That is all I have done for days. We measured the length of all the branches on trees, the mass of our soil, the pH, conductivity and we have many many more. We have alot of work ahead of us yet. We are drying our soil samples then we will weigh them to find the moisture content then we are going to put them in a muffle oven to burn off the organic matter (define). We want to find out how much carbon can potentially be released if the permafrost thaws.
We did see a bladderwort- it is an insectivorus plant.
I hope you are working hard-hopefully I will get to talk to some of you soon.