The team investigated the role of carbon in arctic tundra ecosystems. Approximately one quarter of the world's soil organic carbon is stored at high northern latitudes in permafrost and soils. As the arctic environment warms, this carbon may be released to the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The goal of this project was to understand how changes in a warming and drying arctic environment might affect the balance and stability of the arctic soil carbon. The team measured soil moisture, permafrost depth, carbon dioxide and methane gas in the soil and atmosphere, and surveyed plant composition, function and primary productivity. They also used remote sensing as part of a larger project to investigate patterns of change across the tundra at various scales, from small local changes to landscape level changes.
Before Mr. Wilder joined Dr. Obermeier’s team, he had the opportunity to work on an archaeological project outside of Barrow with Anne Jensen. Ms. Jensen has been excavating remains in Nuvuk, the northernmost village in Alaska, in order to learn more about the history of the region over the past 1200 years. Click here to learn more about the project.
Mr. Wilder and Dr. Oberbauer lived in the village of Barrow, Alaska and worked at sites outside of the village. Much of the field work took place at the Barrow Environmental Observatory, where many long-term environmental studies have been undertaken.
Rob Wilder has been teaching high school science in Spartanburg, South Carolina for 19 years. He serves as the faculty advisor for his school's Envirothon team, coaches cross-country and track, and serves as a reader for the College Board AP Environmental Science exam. Mr. Wilder uses a hands-on approach to teaching Environmental Science, and has been known to cook meals in his solar oven in the school parking lot. Mr. Wilder enjoys the outdoors, where his hobbies include running and beekeeping.
Steven Oberbauer is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami. Dr. Oberbauer received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from San Diego State University, where he was first introduced to arctic research. He completed his Ph.D. at Duke University studying the ecophysiology of tropical trees in Costa Rica. Dr. Oberbauer currently researches climate change effects in both the Arctic and the Tropics, specifically how plants adjust to changes in their environment and resource availability.