Phew, I have been so busy throughout these two last months! We returned from our trip around Disko Island with the research vessel Porsild on the 4th of August. Already, on the 8 of August two of my supervisors arrived at Arctic Station to help me start up the main field site in my PhD. The days before their arrival, I was busy with organizing stuff for the installation of the site and I washed and heated up 160 plastic bottles and hundreds and hundreds meters of teflon tubing to 75°C for two hours to burn of any traces of BVOCs (Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds). To give an example of these BVOCs (which I myself find a bit hard to get my head around) is the smell from lemons. The smell that we recognize as lemon is in fact a BVOC called limonene, which is also used in cleaning products. Anyway, to avoid contamination of BVOCs in the plastic bottles and teflon tubings, we heat it up to release these compounds. Of course, we can’t get rid of all, however this is better than nothing and a normal standard way to do this. Prior to this project, I mostly worked with greenhouse gasses such as CO2 and CH4, which is way simpler! I like this new added approach though, which is new to me.

On site, we dug 40 soil profiles down to 70 cm. This was real hard work and there were so many stones! I think we dug up and removed maybe hundred kilos of stone. When the soil profiles were dug, we had to take varies soil samples for laboratory experiments later on, and finally dig three holes in the wall of the soil profiles to match the bottles. When the bottles were installed, we put the teflon tubing into the holes of the lids in the bottles, installed temperature and moisture probes and oxygen sensors at all three soil depths. All this work took us about a week leaving the station at 9am and returning home at dinnertime around 7pm. I do not need to tell you that we were absolutely exhausted!! Meanwhile, also installing data loggers, solar panels, batteries etc. for the continuous measurements of soil temperature, moisture and oxygen levels, we also managed to carry out a pin point analysis to make sure the blocks and treatments wasn’t significantly skewed/different from each other. A deep heartfelt thanks to everybody who helped me in establishing this site; Lena, Ylva, Karoline, Elik (one of our crewmembers), Mathias, Riikka and Bo.

PhD project in Arctic Subsurface Gas Dynamics II 1

PhD project in Arctic Subsurface Gas Dynamics II 2

After the big workload with the installation of the actual site, I carried out some small additional necessary things. For example, I performed a harvest experiment of vascular plants, moss and lichens on half the plots and then removal of roots to make a homogenized top layer to constrain the diffusion from soil to atmosphere (20 plots in total). I am working on a factorial-split design, which mean I have four treatments being; control, icingwinter-warm-event and icing-winter-warm-event. I applied these treatments on both the intact plots and the plots with removal of plants and roots. Martin also helped a lot with fox-proofing the site so that I am able to sleep at night.

Now everything is in the ground and it feels good, however small problems are already occurring. I will tell about those some other day. Today, is Saturday and we’ve started on having weekends up here, which is really needed.

/ Birgitte