Phenology and Vegetation Change in the Warming Arctic
Now Archived! PolarConnect Event with teacher Melissa Lau and researchers Jeremy May and Matthew Simon live from Toolik Field Station, Alaska. View the archive here
What Are They Doing?
The goal of this expedition is to understand arctic terrestrial change by monitoring vegetation communities in northern Alaska associated with the International Tundra Experiment Arctic Observatory Network (ITEX-AON). The team will study environmental variability and increased temperature on tundra plant phenology, growth, species composition and ecosystem function.
The ITEX network works collaboratively to study changes in tundra plant and ecosystem responses to experimental warming. The network monitoring sites are located across many major ecosystems of the Arctic.
This project will provide urgently needed data critical to understanding the impact of multi-scale vegetation change on ecosystem function, namely land-atmosphere carbon and water fluxes and energy balance.
Where Are They?
From Fairbanks, Alaska the team will embark on an eight hour drive to 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. The team's research sites around the Toolik Lake area on foot. Some work will be conducted at Alyeska workpad along the Alaska pipeline.
PolarConnect Event: Melissa Lau and the team researching Phenology and Vegetation Change in the Warming Arctic
Meet the Team
Melissa Lau teaches 6th grade science at Piedmont Intermediate in Piedmont, Oklahoma. In her 18 years of teaching she has taught ages Pre-K through 6th grade first as a music teacher and later, a classroom teacher. In the summers, Mrs. Lau works with the non-profit organization, Great Expectations, sharing researched based best practices with 100’s of teachers.
Melissa grew up in the small western Oklahoma town of Weatherford. It was here where she spent her childhood exploring the outdoors and sparking her love and curiosity for nature. She feels through her teaching she can instill some of that spark in her students.
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.
Jeremy May is a visiting postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, USA. He has worked in Arctic Alaska for over 10 years studying the effects of climate change on tundra vegetation. The current project that he works on with Dr. Steve Oberbauer focuses on incorporating traditional, plot-scale vegetation monitoring techniques with landscape-scale, remote sensing technology. In addition to his work in the Arctic, he also studies the impact of hurricanes within the Everglades ecosystem of South Florida.