Grant: $1,200,070 - National Science Foundation - Aug. 14, 2009
0% voted satisfied - 100% voted not satisfied - 2 vote(s) cast
Award Description: The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) Arctic Observing Network (AON) collects data on phenology, plant growth, community composition and ecosystem properties as part of a greater effort to study environmental change in the Arctic. The network, started in early 1990’s, now provides tremendous value for detecting changes within long-term experimentally warmed and control plots across a range of sites and ecosystems that span the major vegetation types of the Arctic. While of great value, these manually collected measurements are labor intensive and time consuming, greatly restricting frequency and spatial extent of sampling. Recent advances in sensor technology hold the promise to allow sampling of surrogates of these manual measurements rapidly and over large areas. Here we will continue the ITEX AON observations and initiate a suite of related, non-intrusive structure, reflectance and thermal measurements using robotic sensor platforms (networked infomechanical systems, NIMS). These new measurements will allow us to scale our measurements to the regional level by linking to existing 1 km2 sample vegetation grids and satellite imagery, providing urgently needed data critical to our understanding of the impacts of changing tundra vegetation on the interactions between the land and the atmosphere for the Arctic and the global system, including carbon and water fluxes and energy balance. This project will specifically: 1) Build on the power of the ITEX experiment by continuing to monitor the long-term changes in phenology, vegetation structure and composition change, and their ecosystem consequences in response to experimental warming and background climate change. The data, from which we have records going back over a decade, provide firm benchmarks to document change. The small scale and extreme heterogeneity of tundra communities requires continued manual measurements of phenology and plant community composition, which we will conduct on our ITEX experimental and control plots. To link phenology and community composition to ecosystem function we will continue measurement of key indices of ecosystem function including plant and soil stable isotopes ratios, nutrients, plot-level spectral reflectance, and components of CO2 exchange of the existing ITEX plots. 2) Establish vegetation grids at each location to increase spatial coverage. We will monitor vegetation change at the landscape level with the use of existing 1 km2 ARCSS grids in Alaska and a new spatial grid in Greenland. Within the grids we will monitor vegetation changes at the plot level for each vegetation type. We will also use high-resolution satellite imagery to develop fine-scale vegetation maps of the ARCSS/ITEX grids at each site. 3) Install infrastructure for automated monitoring of surrogates for plant phenology, vegetation structure, and ecosystem function across our arctic transect. We will install mobile sensor systems instrumented with a comprehensive suite of sensors and imagers within the vegetation grids at each site. These platforms will provide the link between manual and automated measurements and increase the scale and frequency of sampling. Because the sensor platforms are highly expandable, additional sensors can be added as new technology develops. These measurements should greatly increase the scalability and interdisciplinary usage of the datasets.
Project Description: The initial activities for Quarter 1 of this project were to be reconnaissance and site selection fieldwork during the Alaska 2009 field season. However, because of the timing of the start date on the project, that fieldwork was not possible. Consequently, a rearrangement of the future scheduling and logistics of the project has been required. Project collaborators have been frequent contact and with CPS, the Arctic logistics provider, to redesign the fieldwork for 2010 rather than delay the project fieldwork for one full year. Again because of the timing, it is not possible that all the robotic sensor systems planned for year 2 can be ready for a first field season starting in 2010. A hybrid field season phasing in the robotic sensor systems over the 2010 and 2011 field seasons has been the chosen solution. We are in the process of ordering equipment and sensors for the robotic sensor systems. One challenge is that company that had been fabricating the mechanical systems for the NIMS units has reportedly gone out of business, so we will either have to design and build them ourselves or provide the design to manufacturer to custom build them.
Jobs Summary: Positions created: The project subcontracts have been initiated and upon completion, one new position will open up for a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico. A postdoctoral position will open in the spring semester. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Aug. 14, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.