Sunday, 15 May 2022: Arrival in Abisko, ANS
55 hours after leaving Jena I finally reach Abisko Östra. First impression: It’s incredibly bonnie. The mountains are still covered in snow, sun shines upon the beautiful surroundings and it is much warmer than expected. After travelling from Berlin to Stockholm, and then from Stockholm to Abisko, I got two night train experiences wiser and am still pleasantly excited to reach the Arctic circle- by train! The research station, called Abisko Naturvetenskapliga Station, in short ANS, is only a 10 min walk from the station. As promised, I find my keys in a locker next to the entrance. The ANS is quite a maze- I will only find out about that a little later- but I can easily find my room. Since there is a power outage at ANS, I walk to the local supermarket and get myself some food for a salad. I am impressed: the choice of vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, lactose free, and organic products is as big as the selection of candies! Back at ANS, I take a nap, explore the surroundings and organise my stuff. In the evening, I meet Ruth Varner, Carrie McCalley, Katie Bennett and Cherry Jones, all scientists from the US who have been working here for many years- or are planning to do so. They had arrived in Abisko earlier and answer all my questions about the Stordalen mire, where I will conduct my field work. What a pleasure to have such great scientists around!
Monday, 16 May 2022: Stordalen mire
In the morning, Christina Biasi, Maija Marushchak, and Timo Oksanen from the University of Eastern Finland arrive with our new PICARRO N2O gas analyser. After organising some wellies, snow shoes, and a sledge, the adventure begins! Goal of the day: Get the analyser to the field and install it! What sounds like a mission impossible is completed in half a day. Timo is the star of the show: not only does he pull all the instruments to the field, but he also installs the analyser in less than 3h! Also Carrie is a great help and knows exactly where every cable need to be at.
Meanwhile, Maija, Christina and I explore the mire and fall in love. The landscape shows many degradation features and looks “promising”- there could be quite a few N2O hotspots, areas with high N2O emissions, here. Ruth and Katie help us finding old transects and show us around. What a privilege to get free guided tours :)
After a warm dinner, Maija, Christina and I discuss the plans for the next days, the next field seasons and upcoming years. After that, Ruth and Carrie answer many of our questions and tell us whom we should get in touch with during the next days. After a successful day, I go back to my cosy room and send photos to friends and family- it’s 11 pm and bright outside, and I start liking the blinds of ANS.
Tuesday, 17 May 2022: Winter is coming (back)
In the morning, we talk to several super helpful people, amongst others Erik Lundin, research engineer at ANS. We tell him about our plans and discuss the best and most sustainable options for our research- we do not want to disturb the heavily visited mire any further. With his help, we find the most suitable locations and get equipped with small wood sticks- we do not want to litter the mire with plastic, do we?- and a state-of-the-art GPS. After lunch, we head out to the mire to set up our transects and check on the analyser and automated chambers. The first transect is not straightforward. We need to decide upon the right amount of sample points, and how we want to differentiate the different plots from one another. After some time, we figure out the best way to select sample points and work efficiently. While setting up the second transect, spring conditions change and what was snow free yesterday is quickly covered by snow again. I find it surprising how quickly horizontally falling snow covers the ground! After finishing the second transect, we hurry back to the shack and are happy to hear everything is working well. The sauna after dinner is well deserved!
Wednesday, 18 May 2022: Spring is coming (back) for a productive day
The day of the “Finnish departure” is well spent: With Timo’s help, we manage to set up the third transect, collect soil flux samples at all our sample points, including some next to the automated chambers, measure soil moisture, soil temperature, and thaw depth, record GPS coordinates, take photos of our plots and collect additional water samples we had inserted yesterday. Today, we are more than lucky: The sun is shining warm upon our faces and supports the great workflow that we have established over the few days. How lucky we are to work in such a fascinating environment! After a great day of work, Christina, Maija, and Timo say goodbye and drive back to Finland. After helping them to pack their stuff, I eat (a small part of) leftovers and plan to take a “wee nap” before enjoying my last evening at ANS in nice company. The wee nap takes several hours and I only wake up when it’s time to sleep again...
Thursday, 19 May 2022: Farewell, bonnie Abisko
I spend most of my last day at ANS at the library. Field work is great but has the slight disadvantage that all the data still needs to be processed, and emails usually get answred a little bit later than usual. This can’t stop me from enjoying the lovely surroundings of ANS anyway, and I enjoy the great views from the beach 5 min away from the station before heading towards the train station.
My stay here was extremely rewarding and I am still surprised about how much we managed to do in such a short period of time. At the same time, I feel very lucky to be able to study such an interesting habitat, and to be surrounded by inspiring kick-ass women with so much experience. My next stay here will be longer- for now, I am heading back south- by train, of course.
A million thanks to Carrie, Cherry, Katie, and Ruth for having me around, sharing your knowledge, experience, food ( and champagne :) ) and including me as much as possible! I hope to see you again soon. Another million thanks to Christina, Maija, and Timo, for all your help, teaching me so much in so little time, sharing your optimism, laughs and irony with me and making this stay unforgettable. Last but not least, a million thanks to Emily, Jennie, Erik, Niklas, Mathias, Keith and all the other folks working at ANS. You all have been so welcoming and did everything you could to help us. I am looking forward to come back to ANS!