Soil flux monitoring in Svalbard, Norway

Soil flux monitoring in Svalbard, Norway

Here at Eosense, we are a little envious of all of the interesting places our eosGPs have travelled to recently.

Enter, Christina Minions.

Christina is an Environmental Science undergraduate student at St. Francis Xavier University and is currently a technician in the Flux Lab. As part of a collaborative international effort, Christina is working in Svalbard, Norway with the International Tundra Experiments (ITEX). The overall goal of the ITEX is to combine short-term and long-term experiments with continuous monitoring in order to evaluate how cold-adapted vegetation and tundra ecosystems may respond to environmental change. In particular, Christina is involved in a study that looks at the impact of warmer summer temperatures using experimental plots that are warmed using large open-top chambers.

The field site at Endalen, Svalbard with open-top warming chambers in view.

The field site at Endalen, Svalbard with open-top warming chambers in view.

For those who may not have heard of Svalbard before, allow me to acquaint you with a brief overview of this incredible place. It is a Norwegian archipelago located between 74° and 81° latitude, and is one of the northernmost inhabited areas in the world. Glacial ice covers the majority of the islands (60% of the land area), whereas 30% is covered in barren rock, and vegetation cover is only about 10%. The norse word Svalbarð directly translates to mean “cold shores”, which is a very accurate description given that the average summer temperature is between 4℃ to 6℃ (39℉ to 42℉).

Christina’s field site is at Endalen, Longyearbyen in Svalbard. Led by Hanna Lee (Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research), this field site in particular is setup to monitor soil CO2 flux throughout both growing and non-growing seasons, as well as to observe long-term effects that warming will have on the carbon balance in an arctic tundra ecotype.

Endalen, Svalbard (Norway)

Endalen, Svalbard (Norway)

Christina assisted in setting up one CO2 flux monitoring station in early July, 2015 on a valley side in Endalen. Equipped with two eosGP CO2 probes, one low range (0 – 5,000 ppm) and one high (0 – 20,000 ppm) range sensor, as well as six prototype eosFD forced diffusion CO2 flux chambers. All equipment at this site has low power demands, allowing the station to be powered by a 12 V battery and small solar panel over the long-term.

eosFD-Svalbard-Norway-ITEX-field-site

The eosFD forced diffusion chamber at the field site in Endalen.

The CO2 flux monitoring station ran well for most of the year and has successfully been used to monitor CO2 dynamics during multiple freeze-thaw events. The system is continuing to monitor fluxes at the site as we head into the summer season. While the data collected in the first year is still undergoing analysis, preliminary insights by the FluxLab team suggests that there is a measureable difference in CO2 flux between vegetation in warmed environments (open-top chambers) and unwarmed vegetation.

STAY TUNED for updates on this project, as well as a feature article on Christina’s work in Alaska!