In case you missed it, you can watch the archive of Liza's live event from Toolik Field Station here.

What Are They Doing?

Steve Oberbauer and Jeremy May set up the Mobile Instrumented Sensor Platform (MISP) tram. Utqiaġvik, Alaska.
Steve Oberbauer and Jeremy May set up the Mobile Instrumented Sensor Platform (MISP) tram. Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Photo by Alejandra Martinez.
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?

Researcher Jeremy May on the boardwalk at Toolik Field Station, Alaska.
Researcher Jeremy May on the boardwalk at Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Alejandra Martinez.
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 are accessed by walking on approximately 1.5 km of boardwalk. They also use a truck for daily visits to Imnavait Creek, North Slope, Alaska.

Latest Journals

Ending the Experience but not the Momentum It’s been three weeks since my Alaskan expedition ended. On Friday, June 25th, I made my way down the Dalton back to Fairbanks (a quite uneventful trip down the Dalton, might I add) where I then began my journey home the next day. Two long flights and a…
The PolliNation A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my core family up here got a little larger with the addition of the “Pollinator crew”, or what we now call “the Polli-Nation”: a group of three students from Colorado College, Caroline, Lucy, and Alex. Their work runs adjacent to ours, so most of…
Finally… the Aufeis! I’ve been told that every year there is a trendy site-to-see or a hike-to-hike around Toolik and that it shifts locations from year to year. This year that site is the Aufeis. Looking down on the Aufeis from above, you can see some canyons and caves beginning to form. Jeremy…
Sunday Funday After a six-day workweek, you may be wondering what scientists do on Sunday. To be honest, it varies from Sunday to Sunday and person to person: some folks use the time to finish up a few work items or get ahead, some use the time to watch their favorite TV shows or catch up with…
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Collaborative Research: Using the ITEX-AON network to document and understand terrestrial ecosystem change in the New Arctic; AON-ITEX
Liza Backman - Educator
Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy

Born in the snow-covered land of Buffalo, NY, and raised in sunny Auburn, AL, Liza has been interested in exploring the cold parts of the world around her from a young age. After attending The College of Wooster and graduating with a B.A. in Geology and Chemistry, she attended the American Museum of Natural History's Richard Guilder Graduate School and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Earth Science education.
Liza currently teaches Earth Science, Chemistry and IB (International Baccalaureate) Chemistry at Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA)--an all-girls public charter school located in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, NY. As a graduate of the IB program herself, she is particularly invested in data literacy as a way of encouraging students to be engaged in both local and global issues. She anticipates that exposing students to exciting science will encourage more, particularly young ladies such as those she teachers, to pursue science as a calling.

Steven Oberbauer - Researcher
Florida International University

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 - Researcher
Florida International University

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.

Phenology and Vegetation in the Warming Arctic 2021 Resources


This content has been created with the intent for the teacher to develop it to best suit their classroom setting. In its most basic form, students are asked to analyze wet and dry berry data to determine how water content changes (or doesn’t) for several berry species over the course of one season. This lesson has multiple stages or

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The PolarTREC Field Experience

The night before I left Alaska I stayed up chatting with some of the scientists in the Toolik dining hall talking about my return to “normal civilization”. We spoke about the little habits that you pick up while at the field station and aren’t sure you’re going to let go (wearing sunglasses 24/7) as well as

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This is the archive of the PolarConnect event with teacher Liza Backman and the team from the Phenology and Vegetation in the Warming Arctic 2021 expedition who presented live from Toolik Field Station in Alaska on 15 June 2021.

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News article on teacher Liza Backman and her experiences preparing for a trip to the Arctic to work on the phenology of arctic plants in a warming climate.

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