Update

Melissa's PolarConnect event on 17 May 2012 is now archived. It is available in the PolarConnect Archives.

What Are They Doing?

Stream flowing through arctic tundra
Stream flowing through arctic tundra
The research team evaluated how changes in water and nutrient cycles on land can affect stream networks in the Arctic. Changing climate in the Arctic may contribute to increases in the transport of nutrients to river networks and oceans by causing the release of nutrients from thawing permafrost, altering precipitation patterns, increasing rates of biogeochemical reactions, or expanding storage capacity in thawed soils. These changes may have far-reaching effects because flowing water connects land to downstream aquatic ecosystems.

Since the flowpaths connecting terrestrial ecosystems to stream networks remain poorly understood, the group focused on transport and reaction of water and solutes within water tracks, which are linear regions of surface and subsurface flow that connect hillslopes to streams and account for up to 35% of watershed area in arctic tundra. The research increased our understanding of the role of hillslopes in connecting terrestrial ecosystems to stream networks.

Where Are They?

Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
The research team lived and worked out of Toolik Field Station, located in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska. Toolik Field Station is operated by the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has hosted hundreds of researchers and students every year since 1975.

Latest Journals

I was finally able to get though some video editing. So here you go! This first video is from the day I spent in the helo with the Fishscapes project in the Kuparuk River Valley. The Fishscapes project is a collaboration between the Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole and University of Connecticut…
Leaving Alaska I boarded the plane in Anchorage with mixed emotions. I can’t wait to see my husband, but I will really miss the Alaskan mountains and tundra. My five weeks in the Arctic was an incredible experience. I feel very luck to be a part of the polarTREC program. I am so thankful for the…
The Homestead I just spent a week in Chickaloon, AK with my sister Allie and her husband Jed on their farm that sits between the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains in the Matanuska Valley, about 1.5 hours northeast of Anchorage. These two (and their dog Dillon and 25 chickens) are truly living a…
Departing Toolik I have been at Toolik for almost five weeks and I sadly said goodbye this morning and headed south on the Dalton Hwy. I did have a little time to hang out with the two other polarTREC teachers Sue and Nick into the wee hours of the morning (who needs sleep anyway?). Green up has…
Dates
-
Location
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Climate-mediated coupling of hydrology and biogeochemistry in arctic hillslopes
Melissa Barker - Teacher
Teacher
Alexander Dawson School

Melissa Barker teaches Biology and Environmental Science at the Alexander Dawson School outside of Boulder, CO. She is in her 14th year of teaching science and holds a Masters in Natural Science and Science Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Ms. Barker strives to help her students connect biological concepts to their own lives and to experience and engage in the process of science. She loves to extend her students’ learning outside of the classroom. Her students have studied marine biology in Florida, snow science in the Colorado backcountry, and organic agriculture in their own backyard. Ms. Barker directs the experiential education program and founded Dawson’s cyclocross team. When not teaching Ms. Barker is an avid bike racer and enjoys getting into the wilderness on foot and skis with her husband.

Tamara Harms - Researcher
Researcher
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Dr. Tamara Harms is a research associate at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Trained as an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist, Tamara conducts studies of nutrient cycling in watersheds, often focused at land-water interfaces. Her research in the arctic and sub-arctic has focused on the consequences of climate change for cycling of nitrogen, an essential nutrient to all living things. To study nutrient cycles, Tamara analyzes the nutrients present in soils and water, conducts experiments to measure rates of microbial processes that transform nutrients, and identifies how nutrients are transported from land to water. In particular, she is interested in potential consequences of thawing permafrost for nutrient cycles.

Sarah Godsey - Researcher
Researcher
Idaho State University

Dr. Sarah Godsey is an assistant professor of catchment hydrology in Geosciences at Idaho State University. She is interested in studying how water resources respond to land use change and climate change, especially in mountainous and polar regions. She has worked in the Arctic studying how water and energy flows change in degraded permafrost for the past few years. To understand water resources in permafrost, she collects data on water flows, soil moisture, thaw depths, temperatures and water table depths.

Nutrient Transport in Arctic Watersheds Resources

Overview

Students will conduct a demonstration that will help them gain a better understanding of the water cycle and runoff in a watershed. They will be able to replicate arctic and non-arctic watersheds by varying the size of the watershed. They will be able to visualize the difference in runoff by creating hydrographs of these different locations.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Students will investigate the breadth and depth of science taking place in the Polar Regions by reading and learning about one PolarTREC expedition and sharing it with the class.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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This one hour event by Melissa Barker explains the research being done at Toolik Field Station, Alaska on nutrient transport in arctic watersheds. She is joined by team member Dr. Sarah Godsey.

Event
Arctic
About 1 period

View sequential still images of thermokarst (thawed permafrost) at Horn Lake in northern Alaska during the summer of 2010. The video was made by researchers studying the responses of Arctic landscapes to permafrost degradation.

Video
Arctic
Less than 1 period
All Aged
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PolarTREC teacher Melissa Barker, a high school biology and environmental science teacher, shares her thoughts about her upcoming expedition to Toolik Lake, Alaska where she will learn about changes in water and nutrient cycles in the arctic tundra. The external link provided includes a video interview with Melissa at her school.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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PolarTREC Teacher Melissa Barker is a feature story for her school in Colorado. She is heading into the field with Dr. Tamara Harms to study Arctic watershed systems.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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