During, before, and after the field course, Polaris students and faculty share their thoughts through journal entries.

© Chris Linder

Blog Posts

  • Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Kholodov carries a bore hole bit toward the drilling rig.

    Permafrost: Drilling and Digging

    Over the last few days, I have had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Valentin Spektor of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk, Russia, and Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Kholodov of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks as they use their drilling equipment to bore into the ground and collect permafrost core samples.
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    Above My Already High Expectations

    What do you expect when you are going to Siberia to work with world-class scientists? I had high expectations just like my fellow students. But what I have experienced on this journey thus far is far beyond my wildest dreams.
  • From Flames to Forests

    As part of my NSF-Funded Post-Doctoral Fellowship, I have spent the last year talking with colleagues and friends to try and determine the best approach for conducting plot-level experimental burns in the larch forests of far northeastern Siberia. Today, all that planning and strategizing finally paid off.
  • Dr. Valentin Spektor shares a popular Russian rock song after dinner.

    Life at the Northeast Science Station

    “Nyet” is the Russian word for “No” or “None.” Over the last few days, we have had only “inter-nyet,” – although not technically a Russian or English word, its meaning is clear. Thus, we have been out of touch in terms of posting blogs or looking at email.
  • Fire & Enzymes

    In these first five days we have managed to collect almost 1,000 lbs of twigs, branches, and logs. Then we dried all of them. Then we weighed all of them. Then we prepared our plots, which included clearing all of the plants on and around them, fluffing the moss so it dries, and taking pre-burn measurements. Finally, today, we burned.
  • Halfway through?

    Time is flying by in Cherskiy! I'm making progress on my project, but will I finish in time?
  • Fire Science

    Burn day. Our anticipation has been fueled (literally) by expectations, curiosities, and uncertainties of conducting experimental burns here at the Northeast Science Station.
  • And now for something completely different

    I’m running an experiment which seeps the organic carbon from different vegetation to determine (in so many words) bacteria's ability to consume that organic material (the lability of the carbon).
  • Max Holmes leads an after-breakfast debriefing to cover the agenda for the day.

    Dinner is Served!

    I thought for sure that I would lose a few pounds roughing it in extreme northern Siberia. You know – competing with bears for available game or fishing by hand in the rivers… I was wrong. Very, very wrong!
  • Nakita Zimov scatters the fuel on a high severity burn plot.

    Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

    This morning, Dr. Heather Alexander’s team conducted their first experimental burns to test the effect of burn severity on the regrowth of the larch forests and on the consequent implications on permafrost soils.
  • Dr. Karen Frey works on the sampling raft while ignoring a few mosquitoes.

    Moss Fluffing and Mosquito Watching

    You may ask yourself, “What is moss fluffing?” Today, Dr. Heather Alexander of the University of Texas at Brownsville, may have created the newest term in field science.
  • They Tried to Prepare Us…

    They tried to prepare us. Bug shirts and bug spray were on the packing list as necessary items. The Polaris website has pictures and video of the swarming masses. But no matter what someone tells you, it is not the same as being out in it.
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    Using a fish finder…but not to catch fish

    Today we took the inflatable boat out on Such'ye Lake, which is about a kilometer from the station. First part of the day was spent taking optical measurements using the BIC, then taking various readings with the CTD and YSI such as temperature, depth, conductivity, pressure, pH, and dissolved oxygen.
  • A comparison of all my water bottles in front of the new aquarium inside Orbita.

    High Altitude meets Low Altitude

    So what happens if you fill a plastic bottle with air on the 14,265-foot summit of a Colorado mountain and bring it down to sea level in Cherskiy, Siberia? This is the experiment proposed by my students in Colorado that I wrote about in my June 19th journal on the PolarTREC site above.
  • Mark Paricio enjoying the Panteleikha River.

    Preparing for an Experimental Burn

    Today, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Heather Alexander of the University of Texas at Brownsville and her team, setting up 16 plots for an experimental burn to determine how the severity of fire in the Siberian boreal ecosystem affects the permafrost soils and the germination of larch trees after a fire.
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