Phenocams and soil cores
The Systems Ecology Lab (SEL) depends on technology in order to determine how the climate is changing the earth. One such technology is a phenocam. Phenology allows scientist to study seasonal or any changes in vegetation. By using phenocams, scientists will collect images from cameras to monitor visibility, snow, sea ice, coastal erosion, or even photosynthesis by analyzing different color spaces. UTEP undergrad Jessica Duran is monitoring the phenocams set up along the coast to assist in determining the rate of coastal erosion in Barrow, Alaska. All images need to be checked in real life, so Jessica will take measurements using a DGPS at various collection sites to check the camera images.
Also collecting data on the coast is Daniel Berumen. Daniel's role is to collect soil and permafrost samples. Once he has collected the samples, they will be tested for carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients. This is important to determine the composition of the coastal sediments and detect areas vulnerable to erosion. Daniel also relies on the same technologies and uses some of the pictures to determine site locations. Once at the site, cores are drilled and collected. All the samples must be frozen to preserve the integrity of the sample. The physical demands are strenuous, as samples are collected at the edge of a bluff on the beach along with carrying a generator and hammer drill to the site. Most of the their sites require the use of an ATV to get their sites.
Recent UTEP grad Tabatha Fuson usually assists anyone going into the field with all projects. She recently helped Jesus Godinez on the sediment samples on the UTEP boat, collecting DGPS points with Duran, as well as Berumen on the Barrow coast. Fuson has been in Barrow since the beginning of this summer and is hoping to start a formal graduate project with the Systems Lab. She is also familiar with remote sensing technology, including the spectrometer needed in all the projects. The spectrometer can be used to measure elevation & shapes using different wavelengths of light that bounce off surrounding objects.