Shrubs Snow and Nitrogen in the Arctic

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 BrinkerAn 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

Project Information

Dates: 15 July 2018 to 15 August 2018
Location: 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.

Meet the Team

Svea Anderson's picture
Agua Caliente Elementary School
Tucson, AZ
United States

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's picture
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK
United States

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.

Jackson Drew's picture
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbainks, AK
United States

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Hi Katelyn, Thank you for your sweet comments! It sounds like you have an amazing teacher! Teachers who have the ability to share experiences and stories are gems. I hope to have a collection of...
Thank you Clare for your kind words. You have made my day! One reason I applied to PolarTREC was that I hope that I can inspire girls to be fearless and take chances. You can do anything you put...
Hi Shemar! Thanks for your questions! I had never been to Alaska before I went in March, so it was VERY exciting. I am excited to go back this summer to experience what it is like during the summer...
HI Grace, Thanks for your question! I will be in the Arctic in July. The weather should be nice- I think we should have days with highs in the 50s. Not balmy, but not freezing. I have been told that...
hi Svea, you are going to be great! you really explained it really well. you are going to have such great stories for your students just like my teacher does! Enjoy your stay and always stay warm.