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2020

Katarina Hedman at Svartberget Research Station is working for SITES Water since May. Katarina Hedman at Svartberget Research Station is working for SITES Water since May.

Katarina Hedman started to work at SITES Svartberget and the Krycklan catchment study in May. She will be working for SITES Water as well as helping out with other tasks related to the station´s monitoring programmes.

Her background is a Master of Science in Natural sciences and Geoecology from Umeå University in 2004. Since then, she has been working at UMSC, Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, as a marine biologist in two large national programmes. She has been planning expeditions, done extensive field sampling and run the chemical analyzes. Already in 2016 she worked at Svartberget Research Station supporting several research projects, which included tasks as measuring gas fluxes at forest sites and taking samples in the Krycklan catchment. Therefore, she is a perfect addition to the station´s team.
 
Very warm welcome to the SITES community!
 

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Within the framework of the project “Host-parasite-interactions in freshwater phytoplankton blooms” Ingrid Sassenhagen from Uppsala University is currently sampling the diatom spring bloom in Lake Erken. The project aims to test if parasites preferentially infect highly abundant microalgal species, thereby controlling the diversity of phytoplankton communities. Many environmental sequencing studies recently revealed very high abundance and astonishing diversity of unicellular, eukaryotic parasites in different aquatic habitats. Such parasites might significantly contribute to the termination of the diatom blooms in Lake Erken. Taking advantage of the long-term monitoring data set from Lake Erken, Ingrid will also be able to trace the relative abundance of different parasitic groups through time and identify potential correlations with bloom-forming phytoplankton species. This spring, several fungal infections (Chytrids) were already observed in the diatoms Aulacoseira sp. and Asterionella sp.

 The chain-forming diatom Aulacoseira sp. infected by chytrids.

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A new study shows that the evapotranspiration from boreal peatlands will increase in a future warmer climate. This has a major importance for the global water balance and could lead to lead to accelerated peatland carbon loss.

The study is based on data from 95 different flux towers on the northern hemisphere (including several within SITES) and underlines the importance of long-term and well distributed networks of measurements of the natural environment.

The study also provides an example on the importance of open data for scientific progress.

Access the article here.

Tower at station Svartberget, one of three SITES stations that have contributed with data to the study. Photographer: Andreas Palmén.

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Ana Barreiro and Lina Fransson-Engman will start to work at SITES Lönnstorp during 2020.

Ana will act as a station manager for SITES Lönnstorp from the beginning of August until the middle of January when Johannes Albertsson is on parental leave. She has been working as a post-doctoral researcher in the Cropping Systems Ecology Group in the Biosystems and Technology department (SLU) for the last three years. She did her PhD in Spain, as well as her master (Environment and Natural Resources) and bachelor degree (Biology). Her main research focus is the soil microbial ecology. Currently, she is involved in a project about the impact of grassland management intensity on the soil microbial communities, which coincides with her PhD and the post-doctoral work. During her time at SLU, she has been involved in several activities related to SITES Lönnstorp and she has also been working at Röbäcksdalen Research Station during 2017. Ana is planning to integrate new experiments at the research station and she is looking forward to the new task.

Ana Barreiro.



Lina Fransson-Engman started her position as a field technician at SITES Lönnstorp in the beginning of May this year. She has been studying at Campus Alnarp (SLU) and became a Lantmästare (Higher Education Diploma in Agricultural and Rural Management) in 2009. The last three years she has been working at a small company that sells vegetable seeds. At that company she was among other things responsible for the seed germination tests. She has also several years experienced from practical work at farms and garden companies. Lina will be involved in many different tasks, which are mainly related to the SAFE experiment. In addition, she will be a back-up drone pilot for SITES Spectral.

Lina Fransson-Engman. Photographer: Johannes Albertsson.


Very warm welcome to the SITES team Ana and Lina!
 

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During the winter, staff from Abisko Scientific Research Station has replaced one of the three houses at Latnjajaure. Latnjajaure, located at 982 m a.s.l. 14 km west of Abisko, is the most commonly used field huts of the research station and has been a site within the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) for more than 30 years. The old cabin started to tilt and was slowly but surely sliding towards the lake. In addition to solve this problem the new cottage makes the use of the infrastructure at Latnjajaure more flexible. Abisko Scientific Research Station has a total of five field huts that can be used for research purposes.

Latnjajaure´s new (and old) huts . Photographer: Thomas Westin

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Spring is arriving with sunny days and increasing temperatures. This is long awaited weather not only for the staff at Asa Research Station, but also for the spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). Due to draught, southern Sweden has experienced high levels of damage in spruce forests the past two seasons. How the situation will be this season remains to be seen.

A number of spruce bark beetle research projects are currently being established. One of them is a project aiming to determine the effect of sun exposure (and temperature) on attack rate and fecundity of the spruce bark beetle following a climate gradient. The experiment is laid out in six regions from Tönnersjöheden in the south to Ätnarova in the north, spanning some 1200 km. 
 

Spruce logs are placed out in transects from clear-cut (sun-exposed conditions) into a neighbouring spruce stand (shaded conditions). Bark beetle attack and development will be monitored every week during the summer of 2020.


The project is funded by Carl Trygger´s Foundation.

Contact persons:
Martin Schroeder, Department of Ecology, SLU (martin.schroeder@slu.se)
Thomas Ranius, Department of Ecology, SLU (Thomas.ranius@slu.se)

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The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the crucial need for access to long-term, real-time data sources in order to advise policy makers and react appropriately from the regional to national and global scales. More than 100 scientists are engaged in the EU funded initiative European Long-Term Ecosystem Research Infrastructure (eLTER), who today published a position paper in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. Read it here

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In the beginning of the week, SITES Röbäcksdalen finally got permission to install the last water logger for the SITES Water stream flow measurements. The two creeks Röbäcken and Degernäsbäcken are sampled at five different spots and during the fall 2019 four of them were equipped with loggers to measure the water level and temperature. There was a delay for the measurements at the fifth location as a more advanced structure around the creek had to be installed to allow precise measurements. Now Umeå municipality has approved the blueprint and as soon as the ground has thawed the structure will be put in place. The station staff has also worked on the catchment model for the creeks. The challenge with this catchment is the large amount of roads and paved ground in the catchment area. During 2019, the laborious job of getting GPS points for all the water passages under roads was started and is expected to be completed in May 2020.

Any researchers interested are welcome to contact the station for more information about the creeks and the SITES Water programme.
 

Flow measurements in Degernäsbäcken. Photographer: Johanna Wallsten

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Fig 1. Excavator heaps up mounds to restructure the drained organic soil site at Följemaden. Photographer: David Allbrand
 

Drained organic soils, like Följemaden in Skogaryd are large sources for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Research studies show if these soils are restructured and rewetted the net climate effect from all GHG will be reduced, even if methane emission increases, due to short atmospheric residence time of methane. A recently publish Nature article supports this conclusion (Günther et al., 2020). Följemaden was drained in 1875 first used for agriculture, then re-planted with spruce in the 1950ies. The trees were harvested in 2019 and the northern part of the area will be rewetted in order to reduce GHG emissions by building a dam construction in 2020. This is a major task for Skogaryd Research Catchment. The southern part was re-drained and the site prepared in February-March (Fig. 1) and will be replanted in spring 2020. At Följemaden we have performed flux studies within the forest stand, which will now be continued after the clear-cut and the following restoration by using micrometeorological techniques. Two flux towers in the northern and southern area respectively combined with automatic and manual flux chamber systems will allow a great coverage for the monitoring of GHG emissions.

Fig 2. The VIRV project aims to study GHG emissions on restored nutrient poor mires at Skogaryd Research Catchment. The flux measurements started on the 7th of April. Photographer: Leif Klemedtsson
 

For studying GHG flux spatial variability affected by wetness gradient or disturbances a new manual chambers system was designed (Fig 2). This equipment will be used both by a Formas project at Skogaryd (A guide to convert high GHG emitting drained organic soils into areas with negative emissions) and within an EU project (GRIP on Life IP (LIFE16 IPE SE 009 Action C6.2, called VIRV) in co-operation with the Regional County board of Jönköping and Jämtland.

 

Fig 3. The Swedish Radio (SR) visited the Anderstorp Stormosse in Jönköping County the 7th of April to report on the importance of these projects in regard to mitigations of GHG emissions. Photographer: Leif Klemedtsson

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SITES AquaNet is happy to announce that our standardised mesocosm infrastructure available in five lakes across Sweden is now part of AQUACOSM-plus. AQUACOSM-plus is an EU-funded research infrastructure project for mesocosm-based research in marine and freshwater ecosystems starting in April 2020. Within AQUACOSM-plus, we will offer transnational access for researchers to join a large cross-sites experiment using the SITES AquaNet mesocosms in 2022.
 
For 2020, there are still open slots for running experiments at SITES AquaNet facilities. Don´t miss this great opportunity to conduct your research! More information and a link to the application form can be found here.

One out of five available mesocosm facilities within SITES AquaNet. Here the platform at Asa Research Station. Photographer: Ola Langvall.

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The field work this spring has started several weeks earlier than usual due to the lack of snow at Grimsö Wildlife Research Station.

One of several ongoing activities at Grimsö is the initiation of a new external research project working on a large scale evaluation of practical techniques to manage human-wildlife problems. The main focus lays on wildlife accidents and collisions on railways and roads, but also regarding crop-damages. The project, funded by Trafikverket, SJ and SEPA, will test different motion-activated acoustic signals to trigger flight behaviour in moose, wild boar and roe deer. If the results show significant effects, the method will be used to scare animals away from dangerous and/or conflict areas in the future.

First tests of acoustic devices and movement sensors. The equipment will be used in a new project aimed to evaluate if and how animal movements may be affected and directed by sounds. Photographer: Gunnar Jansson

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During the last month, work on a new Greenhouse Gas (GHG) flux system was finalized at Svartberget Research Station. The new infrastructure is located at Kulbäcksliden. After some fine-tuning and small modifications the system is now up and running.

In 2018, preparations began to install a series of new GHG flux sampling locations close to the Degerö mire at Kulbäcksliden. The mire itself has a long history of research, and is one of the most intensively studied mire ecosystems in the northern hemisphere. The new locations are south of the existing infrastructure at Degerö Stormyr and are part of a series of long-term and large-scale field studies of high-latitude mires and their behaviour during increased nitrogen deposition.
 

Installation of the GHG flux tower at Lake Stortjärn, where also the AquaNet mesocosms are located. Photographer: Andreas Palmén
 

The project involves four locations – three of which are situated on different mires in the area, and the fourth is based in a drained peatland forest. The focus of each location is carbon dioxide and methane flux measurements, along with variation radiation, meteorological, and soil measurements. The mire-location instruments are installed on a 6m tower with power and fiber-optic/4G connections to the existing infrastructure at Degerö Stormyr. The location at the drained peatland forest is equipped with a 21m flux tower, as well as an 18m flagpole for radiation and meteorological measurements in a less densely vegetated mire close to the primary location.

The process of construction and installation has taken place during the previous year and although things have to be optimized, all four stations are currently running and collecting data. The project will be integrated into the SITES Spectral network with spectral flights over the area, as well as using the drones for the distribution of fertilizer over selected areas.
 

Troubleshooting of the flux instruments at Hålmyran, one of the new locations equipped with a flux tower measuring carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Photographer: Rowan Dignam.

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The Erken Laboratory has monitored the duration of ice cover of lake Erken since the 1940s. The data shows a strong decrease in the average duration of ice cover over time. This year, in particular, the situation is special as the lake has so far only been frozen for 5 days this winter. If the situation remains like this, it would be by far the shortest duration of ice cover since the start of measurements.

You can also listen to an interview with Gesa Weyhenmeyer by the Swedish Radio on the topic here.

Photographer: Silke Langenheder.

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Spring came early this year to Lönnstorp Research Station. The weather this "winter" has been characterized by rain, high temperatures and strong winds. If it continues to be warm, spring operations will start in a few weeks.

Electric van and high speed internet at Lönnstorp Research Station
Our SITES Lönnstorp Research Station recently purchased an electric van that will replace an old gasoline van for transports between the research station and Alnarp Campus, as well as between the research station and the experimental fields. The van was funded by the SLU climate fund and the Department of Biosystems and Technology. We estimate that this investment will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 2.5 tons per year!

Figure 1: The new electric van from Lönnstorp Research Station will help to reduce the carbon footprint from the station significantly.

Already in December, high speed internet was installed at SITES Lönnstorp. This upgrade will allow more people to work at Lönnstorp, which would facilitate communication between researchers, entrepreneurs and technicians. In addition, high speed internet makes it possible for us to use new equipment, which hopefully will attract more projects to the station.

Production of organic leafy greens as a winter crop in poly-tunnels – a new exciting project at Lönnstorp Research Station
One of the principles of organic production is that the plants have to be in direct contact with the soil. The Nordic countries have had an exemption from this principle due to tougher winter climates, but with new EU-directives concerning organic production (2018/848) this will no longer be allowed. One of the largest issues of growing directly in soil is proliferation of soil borne diseases. Many greenhouse and poly-tunnel growers specialize in a few types of crops; a grower specialized in, e.g. tomatoes produces only tomatoes year after year – a practice made possible only by being able to change the growing substrate in between cultures. In the future, organic greenhouse and poly-tunnel production will have to adapt to the new directives. Therefore, long term crop rotations or short term green manure crops combined with a multitude of plant types grown throughout the year have to be used in order to maintain a fertile and healthy soil. For a more cost-effective use of the greenhouse and poly-tunnel area, and at the same time keeping up a diverse crop rotation, a project with organic vegetable production in poly-tunnels will start at SITES Lönnstorp Research Station in April 2020. The project is supported by the Ekhaga foundation, and its main focus is to study the possibility of growing leafy green vegetables during the winter months in poly tunnels (without heating) when production would normally be at a standstill.

If you want more info about the project, please contact Anna Karin Rosberg (anna.karin.rosberg@slu.se).

Figure 2: Lönnstorp Research Station with its experimental fields. Soon, the new ‘organic leafy greens as winter crops’ project will be part of the facilities. © Pekka Kurpa

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The year 2020 has started with high levels of precipitation especially in the south of Sweden. Together with relatively few days of sub-zero temperatures this has led to high discharge in streams and rivers. Several of the rivers in southern Sweden have been reported to flood their surroundings to various extent. Geographically Asa Field Research Station is localised in the headwaters of Mörrumsån which is one of the rivers that is causing flooding. SVT news (Sveriges Television Aktiebolag) reported about the situation in Blekinge (in Swedish).

The water level in the reference stream at Asa Field Research Station has been above the average level of 252mm (reference water level) for the whole month. The average level for February 2020 will be about 370mm above reference height, which is the highest since the start of the monitoring programme in 2013.

However, not only the first months of the year have been wet. At the meteorological station in Asa the highest level of precipitation was recorded during 2019 since the station was established 30 years ago: In total 1106 mm, which exceeds the former peak value with over 200 mm (900 mm in 2004).


Air temperature (°C) and precipitation (mm) recorded at Asa Field Research Station for the years 2018 and 2019 in comparison with the average over the years 1990-2018.

Water level monitoring at Asa´s reference stream; high water levels in 2020 compared to the long-term mean (years 2013-2019).

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RTK measurements performed by researchers from Luleå University of Technology in Kärkevagge, Swedish Lapland. Picture: credits GAS. 

Last summer, four researchers from Luleå University of Technology visited Kärkevagge. Kärkevagge is a valley about five miles west of Abisko with very special glacier-like landforms (GLFs). The research team found that it was sometimes impossible to distinguish GLFs in Kärkevagge from those found on Mars. In preparation for the upcoming Mars project, one needs to understand how different landforms have arisen. The project carried out precise geomorphological and thermal surveys in the area using the GNSS RTK (Global Navigation Satellite System - the European GPS system - and Real Time Kinematics). RTK is an accurate form of position measurement where fixed base stations and a drone with GPS receivers are used simultaneously. In this way, an extremely accurate survey of GLFs and other periglacial land formations was obtained.
 
As a further preparation for future Mars projects, the group has applied to participate in upcoming expeditions to Wasa, the Swedish station on the Antarctic, to test the mapping system and other instruments in extreme environments.

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Röbäcksdalen Field Research Station welcomes new staff to strengthen their team. First person to support the team is researcher Julien Morel, who is specialised in remote sensing and has a lot experience in running the equipment in the Spectral Lab at Röbäcksdalen. From 2020 on, Julien will be a support for researchers who want to use the Spectral Lab. In addition, he will be a back-up drone pilot for SITES Spectral.

Next in line is Niklas Björn who is already a technician at the field station. Like Julien he will be more involved in SITES activities from 2020 onwards, starting to support the team with the collection of water samples for SITES Water. Additionally, he will  be one of the bee keepers at Röbäcksdalen.

Last, but not least, Jenni Burman will start as the new research technician in the dairy barn on March 1st. Her job in SITES will mostly be within the data collection program SMURF, which aims to make all the data deriving from the field experiments available to researchers through the SITES Portal. In time she will also be responsible for the GreenFeed equipment, which measures greenhouse gas emissions from the animals in the dairy barn.

Very warm welcome to the SITES team Julien, Niklas and Jenni!

Julien Morel is using the FieldSpec 4 to do spectral measurements in a barley field.
Photographer: Uttam Kumar.

New research technician Jenni Burman. Photographer Jenni Burman. 

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In order to raise awareness of the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet, the Wetland Convention was adopted on February 2nd, 1971. On February 2nd the year after it became "World Wetlands Day".

Wetland research is a central part of Skogaryd´s research station work; with special focus on their function and how they are affected by land use and a changing climate. "World Wetlands Day" was celebrated on Sunday, February 2nd, with an open house at Skogaryd Research Catchment (SRC) where research activities at wetlands were shown to the public. It was a beautiful day where the approximately 100 visitors walked between different installations. The day was much appreciated and the visitors requested a continuation for years to come.

In addition, the Faculty of Science at University of Gothenburg organized the first workshop in a series called "What Do We Do?" on the "Global Goals for Sustainable Development" on the 3rd of February that dealt with ditched wetlands ("How can we convert ditched peatlands from emission source to sink?”).

The background to the workshop is the large Greenhous Gas (GHG) emissions from drained peatlands in Sweden, which in the national reporting is estimated to emit 10 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents of greenhouse gases. This equals to approximately as much as the national passenger car traffic. How can we use and manage the peat so that the GHG emissions are reduced and the ecosystem can potentially be transferred to a carbon sink again? What trials are there in Sweden and what do they look like? Are there alternative approaches?

To reduce GHG emissions it is necessary to clearly show how the land must be managed to reach minimum emissions or even a GHG uptake. Perhaps ditched spruce forest must be shifted towards a wetland with meadow vegetation. A new Formas project funded at the Department of Earth Science at University of Gothenburg will focus on “how land-use management can convert high-emitting drained organic soils into areas with negative emissions”.
 

At the workshop, Leif Klemedtsson (Station manager) informed the participants about measurements and experiments started at SRC (SITES). After harvesting a spruce forest grown on ditched fertile peatland the emissions from the re-planted forest will now be compared with rewetted sections of the research area. Similar experiments were reported by Matthias Peichl during the workshop, who is responsible for the boreal ecosystem focused research at Svartberget Research Station (SITES). Here, the soil has low fertility and study sites include both ditched forested peatland (Kulbäcksliden) and a comparison between drained and rewetted peatland forests (Trollberget) in a similar way as in Skogaryd. The low fertility of the soil results in relatively low GHG emissions from the ditched soils and therefore rewetting will probably have a limited climate benefit.

Installation of micrometeorological flux towers to measure greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) after clearcutting a forest on drained organic soils at the Skogaryd Research Catchment. Photographer: Johan Martinelli

Photographer: Urla Ewender

Representatives from several universities, authorities, companies and organizations participated. Overall, the workshop had 45 participants and many were thankful for a rewarding event

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The Rabot Glacier, situated on the western side of the Kebnekaise massif, is now included in the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). The glacier has been continuously monitored by Tarfala Research Station since 1981. To qualify as a reference glacier the mass balance data series of the glacier must be longer than 30 years.
 
Storglaciären, situated on the eastern side of Kebnekaise massif, is already a reference glacier. Together with 40 other glaciers, the two glaciers in Tarfala´s vicinity provide a unique record of the state of the world´s glaciers and their response to climate change.
 
Glacier mass balance describes how much a glacier gains or loses mass over a year. Data input to the calculations of glacier mass balance is provided by measurements of snow-accumulation and snow-density at the end of the winter. Ablation, i.e. melting of snow and ice, is measured during the summer melt-season.
 
Read more about the World Glacier Monitoring Service here.  

The location of Rabot Glacier. 

Field technician from Tarfala Research Station measuring mass balance on the Rabot Glacier.
Photographer: Gunhild Rosqvist.

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A new monitoring series based on photos from wildlife cameras (‘camera traps’) was initiated at Grimsö Wildlife Research Station in 2019. Wildlife cameras are now in use at 32 survey plots where additional data on both wildlife and vegetation are collected. Camera traps have become a common tool in wildlife management and research worldwide and are also frequently used by the general public (partly due to simplified permission procedures). Greater understanding of how to use and interpret camera-based data is therefore important. Part of this project aims to examine the relationship between camera data and traditional population indexes obtained by, e.g. pellet surveys, aerial counts and hunters’ observations.

Wildlife cameras are commonly triggered by movement in the surroundings, heat sensors and/or are set to take photos at fixed intervals. However, the interpretation and how to process this data is not always obvious: Detectability varies among species, e.g. due to size or behaviour; data may be hard to process and sorting might be ineffective due to large storage volume sizes, and the understanding of the data can be challenging in regard to scientific or statistical aspects. Depending on the method design and camera set-up the data can e.g. be used as frequency of photos (of species X) or total number of photos in a given time period, but it may be unclear to which extent these data categories actually reflect the studied population. Using this new monitoring data, we aim to improve the interpretation of camera data and the mentioned challenges biologists are facing with it.

One of the camera traps, here with the camera mounted in a fixed metal box to ensure the exact same position after switches of memory cards and batteries.

Due to the activity pattern of many species, most pictures are taken in the hours of darkness, but here a moose (Alces alces) female just happened to take a rest in front of a camera during daytime. This exemplifies another potential difficulty with cameras; how to process the data when one single visit (‘passage’) by one individual results in hundreds of pictures.

A capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) male more or less displaying in front of the camera.

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