What Are They Doing?

Warming chambers in alpine tundra near Kluane Lake, Yukon, Canada.
Warming chambers in alpine tundra near Kluane Lake, Yukon, Canada. Photo by Jennie McLaren.
The impacts of global climate warming will be disproportionately felt in arctic and montane ecosystems. There is high risk of these ecosystems releasing their large soil carbon (C) stores with climate warming, positively feeding back to rising atmospheric C. One of the fundamental challenges facing global change research is predicting changes in species distributions and ecosystem functions in response to warming. I propose an experiment which enables the simultaneous study of the direct and indirect effects of warming on ecosystem functioning in northern alpine ecosystems. This type of research has been repeatedly called for to determine how changes in species composition and climate warming will influence biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics.

Few warming experiments occur in alpine, as opposed to arctic tundra, despite the importance of alpine tundra as a C sink, as well as the global distribution of these ecosystems. We will provide a dataset to the tundra warming literature with ecosystem characteristics unique to montane environments, including responses by both the plant and microbial communities, as well as changes in ecosystem C dynamics.

This project will also contribute to a globally-distributed montane ecosystem warming research program. Collaborative networks such as these are essential for examining the context dependent nature of responses to environmental change and will improve our ability to predict responses across ecosystems to climate change.

Where Are They?

Kluane Lake in Yukon, Canada.
Kluane Lake in Yukon, Canada. Photo by Zeb Polly.
The team will travel to the field station by road which is about 2.5 hours from Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada on the Alaska Highway. The team will be staying at a local research station near the field site. They will hike on a challenging but well-maintained trail to the research sites.

Latest Journals

Even though I'm grouped with the teachers and researchers going to the arctic, I'm technically going to the subarctic. Technicalities, I know. It has to do with a specific latitude. If I were to be more specific, I'd tell you I'm going to the Boreal forests of the subarctic. Even more specifically…
This is my first journal, and as such, it is going to be a very short test run. I'm simply going to invite you to listen to the podcast, "Your Teacher is Going Where?" that Erin & I have created to help us document our travels, experiences, and the amazing science we're going to learn. https://…
Dates
-
Location
Kluane Lake region, Southwest Yukon Territory, Canada
Project Funded Title
Elucidating the direct and indirect effects of warming in alpine tundra in northern Canada.
Jennifer Heidrich - Educator
Educator
Oxford Hill Comprehensive High School

Jennifer is a sheep farmer and archaeologist-turned high school teacher who is laser-focused on climate education and solutions-based inquiry for her students. She took a non-traditional route to teaching, beginning with her undergraduate degree in Geography and Anthropology. She learned how to be an archaeological field technician on remote islands off the coast of Maine while simultaneously living out of her 1994 Jeep Cherokee. Her first-hand experiences in STEM fields have enabled her to effectively bridge the gap between hard science and history for her students.

From guiding at-risk teenagers to the summit of the tallest mountain in the Northeast to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef with marine biologists with her students, she is dedicated to leading global youth-centered expeditions that have a serious focus on environmentalism, sustainability, and history. She is dynamic, energetic, a bit quirky, and is proud of her advocacy for students who are seen as less-than-traditional. Jennifer is deeply committed to ensuring that her students- many of whom represent refugee, immigrant, and low-socio-economic populations- get a first-class education in solutions-based inquiry. Teaching her students critical thinking and inquiry skills is her ultimate goal, doing so with a skill set which is best-described as “out of the box.”

When not teaching or hiking and traveling with students, she can be found climbing at her local rock gym, hanging out with her favorite sheep, Charlie, having dance parties in her kitchen with her two sons, Cedar and William, or curled up reading a book in her very rare free time.

Jennie McLaren - Researcher
Researcher
University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. McLaren is a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas in El Paso. Her research group focuses on the changes in plant community composition that result from environmental change (such as warming or nitrogen deposition), changing herbivore populations, shifts in species ranges and changing land management populations. We examine both how plant communities may change, but also what the effect of that change will be on the functioning of ecosystems, such as their ability to cycle nutrients, decompose plant litter and store carbon. We conduct our research in northern ecosystems, including alpine tundra and boreal forest in Northern Canada (Kluane Lake Research Area, Yukon Territory) and arctic tundra in Alaska (Utqiagvik and Toolik Research Station in Alaska), and also in the deserts of the Southwestern USA. You can read more about our research themes and team at www.jenniemclaren.com.

Warming and Removals in Mountains of Northern Canada Resources

Jennifer Heidrich of the Warming and Removals in Mountains of Northern Canada expedition and Erin Towns of the Greenland Subglacial Tremor Project, have teamed up to create a podcast. Both educators teach at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine.

Web Link
Arctic
All Aged
Download

Sun Journal article coverage of two Edward Little High School teachers's, Jenn Heidrich and Erin Towns, both selected for PolarTREC expeditions. Jenn Heidrich was selected to go on an expedition in Yukon, Canada, and Erin Towns was selected to go on an expedition to Ilulissat, Greenland.

Article
Arctic
n/a
All Aged
Download and Share