Shrubs Snow and Nitrogen in the Arctic

Update

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 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

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 22 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.

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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.

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Latest Comments

Svea,what causes the difference in depth to permafrost?
The temperature hasn't reached into the negatives, thankfully! The coldest it has been has been low 30's. The wind adds to the chill.
Hi Gage- Great question! I don't know how you define a souvenir, but I am bringing home some fun things for the students in my class. I have mosses and liverwort so we can look for tardigrades, or...
I haven't seen a polar bear. They aren't this far inland. I have seen evidence of brown bears (grizzly) and there was one here at Toolik on Sunday, but I didn't get to see it. (I saw brown bears in...
Hi Andrew! The mosquitoes are large and slow- which is great because you can swat them easier! There are 35 different species of mosquito here in the Arctic! Can you believe it?! So the size really...