Now Archived! PolarConnect event with Svea Anderson and Dr. Donie Bret-Harte from Toolik Field Station on 13 August 2018. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives site.

What Are They Doing?

Willows along the bank of Toolik Lake. Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Regina Brinker.
Willows along the bank of Toolik Lake. Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Regina Brinker.
Ecosystems develop and change through interactions between living things and their physical environment. A shift in vegetation is one of the most important changes an ecosystem can experience, because it can alter exchanges of energy (originating from sunlight), water, and elements such as carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) between air, plants, and soil. In the Arctic, a widespread shift from tundra to deciduous shrub-dominated vegetation appears to be occurring.

This project will assess contributions of different shrub feedbacks to carbon and nitrogen cycling, and improve predictions of the consequences of shrub expansion in the Arctic for regional and global climate.

Where Are They?

An aerial view of Toollk Field Camp with the Brooks Range in the background. Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Regina Brinker
An aerial view of Toollk Field Camp with the Brooks Range in the background. Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Regina Brinker.
The research team was based out of Toolik Field Station, an 8-10 hour drive north from Fairbanks, 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 will drive to an additional field site ninety miles north of Toolik Field Station.

Expedition Map

Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Collaborative Research: Shrub Impacts on Nitrogen Inputs and Turnover in the Arctic, and the Potential Feedbacks to Vegetation and Climate Change.
Svea Anderson - Educator
Agua Caliente Elementary School

Svea Anderson is a 6th grade Science and Math teacher at Agua Caliente Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to teaching sixth grade, Svea is also the Tanque Verde Unified School District’s STEM Coordinator, a Mentor Teacher for Pima County’s STEMAZing Project, and a Lead Ambassador for a collaboration between the Arizona Science Teachers Association and the Arizona Department of Education. Svea has a BS from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her Masters in Education from Antioch New England University in Keene, New Hampshire.

Svea enjoys spending time with her family outside in the desert environment, hiking, bike riding, traveling, and playing disc golf.

Syndonia Bret-Harte - Researcher
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Donie Bret-Harte is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Bret-Harte is a plant community and ecosystem ecologist who examines how global climate change affects arctic vegetation composition and nutrient cycling.

Latest Journals

A week ago I drove away from Toolik, down the Dalton Highway, back to Fairbanks and eventually traveled back home. My co-pilot slept almost the entire time so I had 8.5 hours to reflect on the expedition while navigating the often one lane dirt road that winds around mountains and has potholes the…
Just because the pluck is over doesn't mean that there isn't work to do! On Saturday we headed to the Sagwon site 90 miles North of Toolik. Driving on the Dalton Highway is always an experience and sort of like the old video game Frogger where instead of dodging cars, we dodge potholes. After…
What an incredible few weeks I have had! The pluck ended earlier this week after eight days of carefully removing plants from earth. Eight days and fourteen people sitting around a table working from 9:00 am to at least 5:00 pm, if not later. The plants were then put in one of six scientific ovens…
Plucking is hard work! It requires attention to detail and long hours. Today is day eight of the work. We have worked nonstop since last Monday, somedays even until 10:30-11:00 at night. Plant identification is harder if the plants are dried out, so once we start a quadrat, it has to be finished…
It has been a busy week in the field! We have started the pluck. The pluck. Our team has been preparing for this but I really had no idea the complexity of the actual "pluck." The first step to the infamous pluck is to go to the field and take a quadrat of earth. This is done with a "butter" knife…
One of the amazing things (there are many!) about being at Toolik is that there are several projects happening here during the summer. The field site is packed with teams of researchers, their graduate and undergraduate students, and a steady hum of scientific conversations (as well as the…

Shrubs Snow and Nitrogen in the Arctic Resources

On 25 August, teacher Svea Anderson gave a presentation on the highlights from her PolarTREC expedition at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum at their annual Teacher Appreciation Night.

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Teacher Svea Anderson and researcher Dr. Donie Bret-Harte discuss research from Toolik Field Station on Shrubs, Snow and Nitrogen in the Arctic. This event was broadcast live on August 13, 2018.

Local news station, KVOA-TV, interviewed Svea Anderson on May 9, 2018 about her upcoming PolarTREC expedition.

On May 30, 2018, the Arizona Daily Star published an article on PolarTREC teacher Svea Anderson.

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In this press release, Tanque Verde Unified School District announced that Svea Anderson had been accepted as a PolarTREC Educator.

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