Greetings from F6 camp!
As the Stream Team draws closer to the end of the season, our team schedule is getting fuller and fuller. The Stream Team only expects to spend another 2.5 weeks in the Dry Valleys before heading back to McMurdo Station and re-deploying back to Christchurch, NZ.
Before we depart the Valleys there is a long list of objectives to accomplish. These include repairing gage control structures, building new control structures, closing all the stream gages for the season, sampling algal mats, surveying lake levels, retrieving data loggers peppered throughout the Valleys, and packing up the glorious F6 camp. It’s hard to believe that the end of the season is so close. Amazing how fast time passes, here…
January is also when many of the MCM-LTER lead scientists show up. In other words, all of the talented senior scientists who generate the ideas worth studying and compete (successfully) for money to fund those ideas (…and us graduate students), show up to spend time in the Dry Valleys. Today, we were happy to have Dr. Diane McKnight, Dr. Jeb Barrett, Dr. Ross Virginia, and Dr. Diana Wall hang out with us. Dr. Diane McKnight is the leader of the Stream Team and also the lead investigator of the MCM-LTER. Dr. Barrett, Dr. Wall, and Dr. Virginia are all leaders of the soil-science portion of the LTER. Search these names on Google Scholar and learn something new!
Today Dr. Jeb Barrett took a team of us out to the P3 experimental plot to do some explaining and planning. P3 is a long-term soil-wetting experiment, where specific plots of soil are carefully wetted to explore the impact of a wetter environment on soil microbial communities and solute concentrations. Our lab group at Penn State will be responsible for understanding the hydrologic alterations to these sites. We have deployed a suite of sensors into the soil, which measure temperature and soil moisture potential. Turns out, water flow and solute transport through unsaturated porous media is complicated stuff. Should be fun!
It’s a bit sad to see the end of my stay in the Dry Valleys, but then again I really need to do some laundry.