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The SITES team around Gunhild ‘Ninis’ Rosqvist and Pia Eriksson has successfully finished the recent monitoring campaign near the Kebnekaise massif at Tarfala Research Station.  

View towards the Kebnekaise summits from a helicopter. Photographer: Gunhild Rosqvist.

During four weeks of field work, the group has been blessed with mostly sunny weather thanks to Freyr the Norse God of rain and sunshine - a great opportunity to maintain the long-term monitoring stations for SITES Spectral and SITES Water. As an example, the spectral masts have been maintained to continue the long-term monitoring of terrestrial primary production at Laevasvagge. An additional weather station at the location measures complementing meteorological parameters to monitor the local weather and climate and potential changes in the future.

SITES installations at Laevasvagge consisting of two spectral masts with an additional weather station in close vicinity. Photographer: Gunhild Rosqvist

The team further conducted several discharge campaigns aiming to cover the higher water levels during the spring flood to validate the stream water level monitoring in Tarfalajokk. The measurements of higher discharges from the snow melt are extremely valuable. When these points are added to the calculation of the water level-discharge function the rating curve will become more precise. The deviation of the high discharge points from the curve is larger than the points for medium and minimum events in descending order. More data points for the high discharge events increase the precision of the rating curve to calculate the runoff from the Tarfalajokk catchment area.

Usually, it is difficult to cover such high discharge events as the snow melt happens earlier in the season when the station is still closed. However, this year the team was lucky and valuable validation points could be added to the overall discharge equation.

View towards Tarfala Research Station and Tarfaladalen with Tarfalajokk running through it. Photographer: Gunhild Rosqvist

Not only the Tarfala SITES team, but also the vegetation in the Swedish mountains is in Freyr´s hands and the unpredictable and sometimes rough weather conditions. One example is the beautiful specimen of Silene acaulis (Swed. Fjällglim). The pink flower is a common resident in alpine and arctic zones and with its cushion forming habitus perfectly adapted to high UV radiation, strong winds and low temperatures. Silene acaulis is also called “compass plant” as the first flowers often appear on the South-oriented part of the cushion (Ref 1).

Ref 1: Link here.

Silene acaulis (Swed. Fjällglim) at the base of the Kebnekaise massif – a common and well-adapted species in the alpine landscape. Photographer: Gunhild Rosqvist.

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As in previous years, staff from Grimsö Wildlife Research Station is busy running external projects at the station and data collections within the base monitoring program during June. Among the latter, it is now peak season for controlling red fox (Vulpes vulpes) dens, but also to support external projects that monitor reproductive success of other species such as the lynx (Lynx lynx).

Within wildlife monitoring, camera traps have been proven to be a useful tool to estimate biodiversity and population dynamics. Therefore, a high capacity server for storage of pictures and films from camera traps will be installed at Grimsö this summer. For this platform, a new software for automatic recognition and QA/QC of unwanted pictures (e.g. no animal/people in picture) can be applied. The investment is part of a collaborative research project with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the Swedish Transport Administration, but the server will be available for projects related to Grimsö and SITES in the future.

A lynx (Lynx lynx) kitten gets weighted, sampled for DNA (blood) and marked with a chip. Photo; Henrik Andrén.

Curious badger (Meles meles) cubs looking out from one of the ca. 200 dens that are checked annually in Grimsö Wildlife Research Area since 1973. This survey mainly aims to follow red fox reproduction, but badgers are more frequent inhabitants in the dens than foxes. Photo: Linda Höglund

Two GPS-collared wild boar (Sus scrofa) sows with their piglets.
Photo: Anders Friberg

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On Friday the 12th of June, the SITES Water coordination team received the horrible news about a fire that happened in the TEMA laboratory which is under the umbrella of Linköping University and David Bastviken. First results of the investigation indicate that the fire started during the night from Thursday to Friday that week. Luckily, no one got injured during the incident, but significant damage to especially the field equipment and the workshop occurred.

The SITES community sends the best wishes to David and his team and hopes that the overall damage is minor and that the LiU team can get back to regular operations soon.

More detailed information about the incident and the status quo can be found here.

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Since last week, Tarfala Research Station has opened for the spring season. The weather during this time of the year is difficult to predict in the mountain peaks in the north of Sweden and it might happen that the researchers face week-long snowstorms. This year the sunny conditions have kept the team very busy in maintaining the long-term monitoring infrastructure. Yesterday, a tower for SITES Spectral has been equipped with sensors in Laevasvagge, which will monitor the continuation of the snow cover and transition into vegetation growth during 2020.

The Tarfala-SITES team Gunhild “Ninis” Rosqvist and Pia Eriksson in front of the research station taking a well-deserved rest after a long and intensive day in the field.

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