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Day 2 – We could have been hairdressers!

Vegetation removal experiment
Removing different plant types in the field is a character building activity (Photo: J. Bengtsson)Removing different plant types in the field is a character building activity (Photo: J. Bengtsson)One part of our work is looking at how different plants affect the permafrost. In a changing climate the vegetation is changing. On the mires where we work, we have seen a shift in vegetation from shrub dominated plants to graminoids (grasses) dominated plants. In this experiment we look at how the different plant types can affect the permafrost. Will they enhance the ongoing thawing of permafrost or will they do the opposite and preserve the permafrost.
To practically investigate this, we clump plants together that look alike, i.e. plants that have similar leaves, similar stems etc. and put them in different so called "plant functional types". In this experiment we remove three types of vegetation:
- Mosses and lichens
- Graminoids (grasses)
- Dwarf shrubs
So today we have spent a whole day on Storflaket working with a pair of scissors to remove the different plants. If you remove one type of plants then the idea is that you can say that this type of plants affect the ground temperatures and soil moisture (the two parameters that we measure) in this or that way. The plants that have been cut are then brought back to the research station where they will be sorted, dried and weighed. Many field assistants have over the years suggested to use a lawn molder to do the job a bit faster, but of course we need only some of the plants so you instead have to think of all the great skills you develop with the pair of scissors and think of all the possibility to use those skills later for e.g. cutting hair.
In the evening the samples are sorted and then dried in a drying oven for two days, so that we will know how much vegetation we have removed from each of the 12 plots (with three treatments each, see listed above). Sorting Andromeda leaves from its stem is quite hard work, usually described as character building! After plenty of character building activities we had a late sauna and then off to bed.