Author Archive

  • Pleistocene Park Part II: Mammoths, Microbes, and Machines

    Even though mammoths are absent from the park, we still have a plethora of arctic megafauna influencing our sites. The animals leave signs of their presence in the form of hair, trails, browsed shrubs, and especially dung.
  • Pleistocene Park Part I: The Earth’s Spheres

    To test big ideas we need big minds and big spaces. That’s why just south of here the Zimovs created Pleistocene Park, a 16 square kilometer experiment in ecology and biogeochemistry.
  • Soil Lab Party!

    Only a handful of returning students are still here at the North East Science Station. The Core and the rest of the students are up in the tundra, working on their projects. Although historically being sent to the tundra is a bad thing, I can’t help but feel a little jealous as I pull yet another tiny tin of soil out of the oven.
  • A northern water snake by Lake Ontario

    Natural Bias: How We Think About Nature

    A few weeks ago the core group members, a few of PI’s, and I met over the internet and chatted about the upcoming summer. After going over logistics, basic information, and introductions, John gave us our first assignment. He asked that each of us spend some time in a natural area and think a little about what questions that place might inspire in us.…
  • Read the blog "Underground" to learn about the origins of Han's research.

    A Year Ago Tomorrow: Thoughts from AGU

    In a year, I went from the pre-application process to the inside circle of arctic system science, and every step managed to surprise me.
  • The boat loyally pulled us to our new site.

    To Future Students

    I’ve been home from Russia for a few months. Aside from a slight baggage mix-up at the Seatac airport, travel went as smoothly as I could have asked. But while it’s fresh in my head, I thought I’d throw out some information for people who apply to Polaris 2014.…
  • Science is fun when it prints out on long sheets.


    Since the arctic is underlain by a layer of permafrost, soil that remains frozen year-round, water does not penetrate far into the ground from the surface. However, the thawed layer of soil is getting deeper every year as a consequence of climate change, referred to as active layer deepening.…
  • Han's early notes on his new experiment.

    The Process of Science

    Science is funny. Over the last few days my project was in a conceptual crisis, then I found that crisis was just what I needed to make it something great. Hopefully I learned a thing or two along the way. My initial project idea revolved around measuring thaw depth at different points around the major Y4 channel to better understand and potentially predict changes in erosion that could occur with the deepening active layer we see across the arctic.…
  • To the Taiga

    Tomorrow, we fly to New York. Now that I've filled a small container of red pepper flakes (to avoid any future “spice hoarding,” that we've been told about) I’m sitting outside, without a bug net, enjoying my last Seattle sunset.