2020 > 10

The team around Tarfala Research Station has relocated one of the SITES automatic weather stations (AWS) to a new site at Eatnamvarri, located app. 10 km west of Kiruna this week. The instruments record air and soil temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, precipitation and snow accumulation. Tarfala also operates automatic weather stations placed at Laevasvaggi and Mella outside the Tarfala valley (see map).

Reindeer pass Eatnamvarri when migrating between winter grazing ranges southeast of Kiruna and spring and summer grazing ranges in the mountainous area in the west. The Laevasvaggi AWS is located in an area used by reindeer when calving in the late spring.

This relocation event has also been a good opportunity to quality control the instrumentation and to change batteries of the AWS at Mella which is located in the forested winter grazing area app. 80 km southeast of Kiruna. The weather and snow data from this AWS show that the number of rain-on-snow events has increased during recent winter seasons. Results from collaborative research together with reindeer herders from Laevas reindeer herding community show that such events severely inhibit reindeer access to ground lichens and force the reindeer to alternative grazing grounds. Some years the reindeer remain in the Eatnamvarri area during the full winter because of too poor grazing conditions in the forest around Mella.

Installing an automatic weather station at Eatnamvarri. Pia Eriksson (Tarfala), Niila Inga (Laevas Sami reindeer herding community), Alexander Linder (Sveriges Radio P4 Norrbotten). Photo: Ninis Rosqvist

Pia Eriksson changing batteries at the automatic weather station located at Mella.
Photo: Ninis Rosqvist


Map showing location of automatic weather stations in Laevasvaggi, Eatnmavarri and Mella.

Pictures from camera traps may not only produce useful research data, but are also interesting to go through since you never know what may turn up. Here are two exciting examples from the last period of one of the 32 camera stations used in Grimsö´s surveys, one big male moose (Alces alces) and a young crane (Grus grus) with one of its parents.

SITES reported about the wildlife monitoring using camera traps in Grimsö before


A male moose (Alces alces). 

A young crane (Grus grus) with one of its parents.

All regular wildlife surveys run as planned, where the most noticeable this fall is the strong peak in the vole populations (small rodents, e.g. Microtus spp.) with the 3rd highest numbers since this monitoring started at Grimsö 1973. To follow the vole dynamics is a classic aspect of wildlife ecology, since these ups and downs are key factors for some processes among also other species, for example that small game species like grouse and hares suffer less predation in good vole years. One of the common explanations for when vole peaks arise includes that the previous winter should have been snowy, with long periods of snow coverage, which allows for vole reproduction more or less throughout the year (in winter in the sub nival space where predation is relatively lower than on bare ground). However, the winter 2019-20 offered a rather poor and short termed snow coverage around Grimsö. So, there seems to be room for additional explanations!

Besides the grouse species that also show high numbers this year, the research area got a minor invasion of Great grey owls (Strix nebulosa) which otherwise is a rare guest in the region. Within Grimsö research area (13 000 ha) at least 10 reproductions were recorded (although not within any monitoring scheme).

The present strong peak in the vole population around Grimsö benefits many species, for example both generalist and specialist predators on small game. This Summer at least 10 pairs of Great grey owls reproduced within the research area, and the picture shows one of the parents feeding the young with a vole. Photographer: Rick Heeres

A new instrumentation on the shoreline of Lake Almbergasjön has been installed by our research engineers in Abisko. At this new sampling point a pole to measure net radiation has been constructed recently, but also a permanent weather station will be moved from the floating platform on the lake to the same location in the near future. In addition, a modem link will be implemented to allow automatized data downloads and transfers to the research station.

Several benefits will be the result of this work: in the future permanent meteorological parameters will be available to closely link to all the SITES Water programme data for Almbergasjön. Until now, the data was limited to the ice-free season and the floating platform on the lake. Parameters will be more accurate as movement of the platform has an impact on, e.g. wind speed measurements. Furthermore, additional parameters, e.g. net radiation, fixed water level measurements will be added to the list of the station´s long-term monitoring.
Find data and more information of Abisko´s additional weather stations here.

 A new net radiation installation being monitored by Niklas Rakos, one of our research engineers in Abisko at the shore of Almbergasjön. Photographer: Erik Lundin

The end of the season brought several visitors to Lönnstorp Research Station interested in the perennial cereal system, which is part of the SITES Agro-ecological Field Experiment (SAFE). An exciting activity in this context has been that this system was used for the production of a scene for the recording of a documentary about plant roots for the German 3Sat TV channel. The documentary will be aired in March 2021. The focus of the documentary will be on the root system of the perennial cereal intermediate wheatgrass, commercially known as kernza, in comparison with annual cereal root systems. The recording included the kernza harvest, a comparison of annual wheat vs perennial kernza roots, and an excavation of a soil profile in the kernza crop. The soil profile showed that the roots of the perennial cereal reach deeper soil layers than the annual cereals. This trial system will be kept for teaching purposes and to present to visitors of the station. The documentary will also include an extensive interview with the researcher, and former SITES station manager, Linda-Maria Dimitrova Mårtensson. We are looking forward to see the final result!

Additionally, the journal ATL Lantbrukets Affärstidning visited the station, to record a late harvest in the kernza strip. This report includes the first semi-commercial field of kernza in Sweden. Once again, Linda-Maria Dimitrova Mårtensson was interviewed since she is the station´s specialist in the topic - read more here.

“We are really happy that this new concept of perennial cereal is gaining interest and different journalists are approaching us, so the general public is informed about our activities.” - Ana Barreiro (SITES Lönnstorp representative station manager)

Caption of the interview with Linda-Maria Dimitrova Mårtensson in front of the kernza crop field. Photographer: Ana Barreiro.

Detail of wheat (left) and kernza (right) plants, showing a remarkable difference in the root size. Photographer: Ana Barreiro.

Soil profile excavated in the kernza crop. Photographer: Ana Barreiro.

Concrete plans are established to link the thematic programmes SITES Water and SITES AquaNet stronger together by testing a new automatized Greenhouse Gas (GHG) flux measurement system developed by David Bastviken et al. in the SITES AquaNet infrastructure. This automatic GHG flux system will also be tested to be used for SITES Water´s measurements in the future. Establishing this system includes benefits from different perspectives: less manpower will be needed to run the long-term monitoring campaign for SITES Water. In addition, the system covers continuous time series sensor measurements not only for carbon dioxide, but also for methane. Furthermore, the system can be offered to researchers using the AquaNet mesocosm facilities for experiments. Beyond that, it is expected to improve measurements for future use AQUACOSM Plus facilities to support scientists on an international scale. Last but not least, this test phase is done in cooperation with David Bastviken´s research group from Linköping University, which nicely shows how SITES is developing together with external scientific expertise.

The first exchange programme between the SITES stations Skogaryd Research Catchment and the Erken Laboratory with support from David Bastviken´s research group is scheduled for next week at Lake Erken. Updates on the status of progress will follow soon.

SITES AquaNet - mesocosm platform and SITES Water - floating platform alongside on Lake Erssjön, Skogaryd Research Catchment. Photographer: Bengt Liljebladh.

New automatic Greenhouse Gas flux measurement system deployed on Följesjön, Skogaryd Research Catchment, for a first test. Photographer: Haldor Lorimer Olsson.

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