Update

PolarConnect Event
Cristina Solis and her team held a great webinar for the junior docents at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. If you would like to view the archive of the event, explaining the science of their research project, feel free to check out the PolarConnect Archives.

What Are They Doing?

Caribou skull on the tundra
Caribou skull on the tundra
Underlying the northern arctic coast of Alaska is a thick layer of permafrost. As water melts and pools on top of the permafrost, thaw lakes are formed. Much of the North Slope of Alaska is covered in such thaw lakes. As they decompose organic material, the bacteria and other microorganisms living in thaw lakes produce either carbon dioxide or methane, depending on the conditions. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 22 times that of carbon dioxide, and increased microbial activity in thawing permafrost areas could lead to changes in the atmosphere due to the increased release of methane. This research was important to better understand the factors controlling competing microbial processes in carbon-rich tundra soils and how microbial activities interact with biogeochemical cycles (the way specific chemicals move through living and non-living processes on Earth). This information was used to help understand the impacts that changes in climate have on tundra soils.

To collect their data, the research team combined research methods from biology, ecology, and biotechnology. In 2012, the team performed experiments to determine the role that bacterial processes play in the production of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases from peat soils. They collected data in the field including gas flux measurements, soil cores, thaw depth, water table depth, pH, and dissolved oxygen content. Additionally they monitored bacterial respiration and conducted related lab experiments.

Where Are They?

Tundra boardwalk outside of Barrow, Alaska
Tundra boardwalk outside of Barrow, Alaska
The team worked at a variety of different field sites near the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) where they lived and conducted lab work. BASC is located just outside the community of Barrow, on Alaska’s North Slope near the shoreline of the Arctic Ocean. Barrow is a small community of approximately 4,500 people, accessible only by airplane. The climate is polar, with the daily minimum temperature below freezing 300 days a year.

Latest Journals

This is it! Today was my last full work day in the tundra! It's been a great experience! Tomorrow, I'm cleaning out my desk at the lab, clearing things out of the kitchen, packing my things up, and then one final afternoon at the young basin site for one last go for me with the Ultra Portable…
Bog tea and crumpets, anyone? The characteristic light brown color is why researchers call this type of water sampling bog tea. In this multi-faceted research project, another important component of this study is taking water samples from the boggy soil. We use special vacuum test tubes that…
This complete set can be yours, if the price is right. And yes, that is a car battery in the tundra! Let's think about the phrase "jumbo shrimp." How can something be jumbo (which means insanely large) and shrimpy (which means super small) - at exactly the same time? I always thought that…
Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit. There are small needles for sewing a button back on a shirt, medium sized needles for cross stitching, but perhaps the biggest needles of all are for science!!! Yes, science!! All dressed up, lots of places to go! After much calculation and checking and…
Dates
-
Location
Barrow, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Reduction of iron and humic substances as a dominant respiratory process in arctic peat soils
Cristina Solis - Teacher
Teacher
LA Academy

In addition to teaching life and physical science, Ms. Solis has also taught math, leadership, cooking, and even belly dancing in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Ms. Solis earned her Masters from Columbia University in New York City, earned her Bachelor's degree from Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, and completed a study abroad at Oxford University in England. Always looking for ways to improve her practice and grow as an educator, Ms. Solis actively participates in professional development with organizations such as the Aquarium of the Pacific, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), and the World Forestry Institute (WFI). In 2009, Earthwatch selected Ms. Solis to assist in research on coastal ecology in the Bahamas. Ms. Solis is currently a National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Teacher Fellow.

Lars Angenent - Researcher
Researcher
Cornell University

Lars Angenent is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. His research interests include the conversion of organic waste into bioenergy, the development of biosensors, photobioreactors and bioaerosols, and the creation of biocomputing devices that are based on microbial electrochemical technologies. Learn more about Dr. Angenent's research at his faculty webpage [http://angenent.bee.cornell.edu/DrLarsAngenent.html]

Elliot Friedman - Researcher
Researcher
Cornell University

Elliot Friedman is a PhD candidate in Dr. Angenent's Lab at Cornell University. His research focuses on engineering applications of microbial electrochemical technologies. He designed and constructed the biosensors being used in the Arctic.

David Lipson - Researcher
Researcher
San Diego State University

David Lipson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at San Diego State University. His research interests include soil microbial ecology, plant-microbe interactions, and linking microbial diversity to ecosystem processes.

Ted Raab - Researcher
Researcher
Stanford University

Ted Raab is a Senior Investigator in the Carnegie Institute of Science at Stanford University. His research interests include plant physiological ecology, analytical chemistry and spectroscopy, synchrotron-based imaging, and cryosols.

Microbial Activity in Thawing Arctic Permafrost 2012 Resources

Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles profiles one of its alumni, teacher Cristina Solis who also happens to be a PolarTREC alumnus. Read about her journey to become an educator and her participation in a PolarTREC study of microbial activity in thawing arctic permafrost near Barrow, Alaska.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
n/a

Overview

Students will conduct a soil study by investigating pH and water absorption.

Objectives

Students will learn:

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Students will investigate what a carbon footprint is and calculate their own personal carbon footprint. Finally, students will develop ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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PolarTREC teacher Cristina Solis and her team presented their work on microbial activity in the tundra to junior docents at Cabrillio Marine Aquarium. This is a one hour presentation with Cristina and her research team.

Event
Arctic
About 1 period

Article from the Daily Breeze (Los Angeles) describes PolarTREC teacher Cristina Solis's upcoming expedition to Barrow, Alaska.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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