SITES_bård 160701-4

2016 > 09

The Flakaliden experiment in the vicinity of Svartberget was set up in 1986 in a young Norway spruce stand which was planted in 1963 after felling, prescribed burning, and soil preparation.

The long-term experiments show that it is possible to increase growth of Norway spruce by more than double. Thus, it is not the harsh climate or the slow growing tree species that limit the growth in Swedish forests. Rather, it is the availability of nutrients — in Northern Sweden, mainly nitrogen — that is limiting growth.

2016 fills the experiment 30 years and it has been celebrated in late September. Pioneers and researchers who have worked and been interested in the results has been on the spot in Flakaliden again.

Tree rings before and after nutirent addition. Photo from SLU Web.
Tree rings before and after nutirent addition. Photo from SLU Web.

Research at Flakaliden has made enormous contributions to our understanding of the role of nutrient supply in boreal forest growth and ecosystem function, in addition to clearly identifying the critical importance of nutrient availability in the response of forest growth to increased air temperature and elevated CO2 concentrations.

The pioneer Sune Linder together with colleagues and friends at Flakaliden. Image of Charlotta Erefur
The pioneer Sune Linder together with colleagues and friends at Flakaliden. Image of Charlotta Erefur
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Abisko Scientific Research Station and some of their many researchers were visited by journalists from science editorial offices in Sweden and abroad during the summer.

EuroNews Television produced a short documentary about the research station:
Polar research warms up
Picture from EuroNews documentary about Abisko Scientific Research Station
Picture from EuroNews documentary about Abisko Scientific Research Station
Swedish national radio has followed researchers at their field study sites around Abisko. The programs are only available in Swedish.

Mikroorganismer på myrarna kan ge svar om utsläpp
Livet på myren – så påverkas klimatet
Plattmaskar – smådjuren vi vet för lite om

Magnus Augner, station manager at Abisko Scientific Research Station
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Svartberget and Röbäcksdalen acted as hosts for the SITES boards September meeting last week. Since SLU is the host University of SITES, the board meets with the vice chancellor of SLU once per year to reconcile. Furthermore, the meeting also addressed planning for the upcoming application to the Swedish Research Council regarding financing of SITES after 2018. Station managers, technicians and researchers utilizing the SITES infrastructures participated during the visits, and took part in the discussions.

At Svartberget, the board visited some key facilities, including Lake Stortjärn which is a part of the SITES Water program, and consequently has been instrumented heavily during the last year. A platform has been constructed on the lake, and a raft for field work as well as gas flux chambers have been installed on the lake. Researchers from different universities use Stortjärn as their main field site, since it has become more logistically available in recent years.

Station manager Jenny Viklund, brought the visitors to Röbäcksdalen research station on a ride alongside some of the experimental fields. As a part of the trip, SITES NordSpec towers and sensors were visited, along with a piece of land where a local entrepreneur will establish an apple orchard in collaboration with the research station, which will be open to researchers before the end of the year. In the distance they could see the harvest of fields used for crop rotation studies in the long term field trials.

Every year, the SITES board has visited two or three field stations during their May and September meetings and this nine stop tour is now complete. Visits at field stations are very important to increase the understanding and knowledge of the daily goings on at the stations. Both individual and common challenges and possibilities are identified during these meetings which is a good base for planning the new application.

Photo by Ida Taberman and Héléne Hagerman

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The Tarfala Lake is one of several objects studied within the SITES water initiative, regarding biogeochemical monitoring of lakes and streams at SITES-field stations. With common practice regarding sampling routines and analytical methods between the stations, a new type of data infrastructure is developed, which provides research opportunities in several unique environments.

The contribution to SITES water from Tarfala is among the more exciting. This spectacular lake is located high up in the Tarfala valley, with direct access to a calving glacier (Kebnepakte), erosion from which was also what originally formed the lake, when the glacier was larger. From summer measurements, the deepest part is 52 meters, and the lake is one of Kalix rivers most important headwaters. With ice thaw in mid-July and ice formation in October, researchers interested in the open water season has a short window for operation.
Sampling for SITES waters monitoring program. Photo by Torbjörn Karlin
Sampling for SITES waters monitoring program. Photo by Torbjörn Karlin
In the light of melting glaciers and a warmer climate, this lake provides unique opportunities to study the development of a lake and it´s ecosystem in a region visibly affected by the changing climate. Changes in biological, chemical and physical parameters in the lake and sediment will all be analyzed.

Initial measurements from this summer indicates that the lake is extremely homogenous regarding conductivity and temperature, at least during summer. Instruments will be mounted and left in the lake during the ice cover period, all this will make it possible to follow variations in certain parameters during the period of ice melt and mixing off the water column, which will take place next summer, says Gunhild Rosqvist.
Sediment coring at Tarfala Lake. Photo by Gunhild Rosqvist
Sediment coring at Tarfala Lake. Photo by Gunhild Rosqvist
Furthermore, a group of Norwegian scientists visited in early September and cored a five meter long sediment sequence from the lake. This sediment core that might even represent many 1000 years of the lake´s history and possible all the way back to the last ice age. Variations of parameters in the sediment can tell us about how glaciers have reacted to previous climate change.

Also, researchers from the Royal institute of Technology (KTH) will come and test their new instrumentation that will examine the bathymetry of the lake. Later on, they will use the robot in fjords at Svalbard.
Panorama of Tarfala Lake. Photo by Torbjörn Karlin
Panorama of Tarfala Lake. Photo by Torbjörn Karlin
The extreme environment in Tarfala has put high demands on security when working at the lake for sampling and measurements. Water temperature reaches a maximum of 5˚C during summer. When sampling at the deepest part of the lake, the shore is at least 300 meters away, says Torbjörn Karlin. To reduce risks with working in cold water, sampling and workdays are always scheduled during days with low wind speed. All sampling can be performed sitting by at least two people, on a stable rubber boat equipped with flotation gear. The boat has a ladder in case a need to quickly climb onboard would arise. There is also one extra boat at shore. Furthermore, a “trip-plan” is filled out prior to departure for any field work at Tarfala Research Station, stating the safety equipment brought along.
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H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf visited Vindeln and Umeå September 1-2. The King participated in an excursion arranged by the research program of Future Forests. 
Future Forests is a cross-discipline research program between researchers at Umeå University, the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden and SLU, where SLU act as host. Several questions addressed in the program has been applied to areas and experiments managed by Svartberget and Asa research stations. 

The following news articles and videos are only available in Swedish:
Future Forests and news article about the visit
SVT Västerbottensnytt

Photos by Lars Klingström

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