PhD project in Arctic Subsurface Gas Dynamics III 2

As my site is now fully installed, I started taking campaigns of varies measurements manually.

As often as possible I am supposed to measure soil gas concentrations and fluxes from the soil surface of CO2 and CH4 with a Picarro GasScouter. I measure both soil gas concentrations and the fluxes during the course of 3 minutes. I am very happy as I see stable soil gas concentrations. The fluxes from the soil surface are very low now, however I do see small emissions of CO2 and small uptake of CH4 at the site currently. The Picarro GasScouter analyzes the development in CO2 and CH4 by using a lazer inside a chamber, which the gasses run through. I am not going in details with this as I am no expect on this and my job is to make sure it functions properly and afterwards work with the data.

Besides CO2 and CH4 measurements, I started measuring BVOCs. This is a bit more challenging and sensitive! I have to capture these very small molecules in a cartridge with absorbents called a Tenax tubes. This is all new to me and I try to follow guides, manuals, my gut feeling and good advices from colleagues. Two new Pocket Pumps was bought for me in order to measure BVOCs in the soil. These are easy to handle and I feel like these measurements will be really good. Each sample must be measured for 12 minutes at a flow rate of 125 ml/min in order to capture all the BVOCs in my 1.5 litre bottles installed in the soil. Measuring the fluxes of BVOCs from the soil surface is more challenging. I am working with something called a Toolbox. The Toolbox contains both vacuum and pressure pumps, which are coupled with a chamber and the Tenax tubes connected on the chamber. Before measuring I need to calibrate the flow rates of both vacuum and pressure. This is done with a Buck Calibrator, which literally is a bubble-maker! I spend a whole long on calibrating two Toolboxes. Hopefully I will get better and faster in the future. 

PhD project in Arctic Subsurface Gas Dynamics III 1

Now comes the really challenging part! All of these measurements must be conducted in good weather conditions, meaning no wind and no rain. Unfortunately, the weather is so hard to predict up here and yesterday I planned for a long day in the field. Martin joined me in the field and we wanted to measure both fluxes with the Picarro and BVOCs with the Toolboxes. However, 30 minutes after we set up everything it started raining. Not a lot, however after 10 minutes everything was so wet and impossible to work with so we packed everything down again and went home to take a long warm shower. Better luck next time...

In August, we also installed a lot of oxygen equipment fabricated by the German company Presens. Ever since we installed the oxygen equipment at the site there has been problems with the power supply. Mathias put everything up with solar panels, however the power usage is way bigger than what these solar panels can supply us with and the equipment is not running. Also the sun is not very strong anymore and soon there will be no sun at all. Mathias is arriving here next Tuesday and I am looking forward for him to visit and help me getting everything up and running. He is also bringing along a windmill, which should be able to supply us with enough energy for the oxygen equipment. I am really looking forward to this equipment up and running and to work in collaboration with Presens. 

/ B