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Fall 2013: Samoylov expedition

(Photo: B. Runkle) The fuel ship pulls up to the island, delivering 250 tons of fuel for winter. (Photo: B. Runkle) The fuel ship pulls up to the island, delivering 250 tons of fuel for winter. Monday, 16th of September 2013 
 
Greetings dear reader,
 
This week on Samoylov has been a good time to reflect on how the station works and operates, and how it can survive the cold winter conditions up ahead. This week we saw the arrival of a fuel vessel delivering 250 tons of diesel oil.
 
This is a LOT of fuel – enough to drive a midsize car nearly 3 million kilometers! One of the special safety features of the station is that it should always have enough fuel for not only the winter coming, but for the next two winters, in case supply problems inhibit fuel delivery in any one summer. A hose from the ship led into one of the four large diesel containers next to our station and let loose its cargo for several hours to fill it.
 
Inside the station too, work abounds. One of the most obvious was work on the floor tiles, which have been coming loose inside the station. One of the staff members has labored to re-set the tiles, cementing them into place once more. This process led to a few days of walking between our bedrooms and the rest of the station on planks, as in a very low-wire circus. Similar "floor work" has taken place around the station's grounds, as planks and platforms have been put down that will support vehicles and pedestrians alike during the snowy months just around the corner.
 
(Photo: B. Runkle) Alex demonstrates walking like an equilibrationist through the station hallways(Photo: B. Runkle) Alex demonstrates walking like an equilibrationist through the station hallwaysThe lone scientists, Alex and I, have also been working – in addition to the chamber measurements described last week, we have also been collecting and analyzing samples of water from different portions of the island.
 
We are interested in studying connections between the amount of carbon and other nutrients in the soil's water and the greenhouse gases leaving the soil.
 
The hypothesis is that a richer nutrient base will improve bacterial activity, and this greater bacteria mass will generate higher amounts of methane and CO2.
 
So far we have seen some regions, particularly in the floodplain, where the water quality does not change as much as the gaseous emissions do. In other regions, such as the polygons, the water quality changes quite substantially as you move through the soil's layers.
 
In the coming days we hope to have enough data to test and analyze this hypothesis.
 
In the meantime, there is an island of tundra to explore, a station being continuously maintained, and yet more samples to gather.
 
Written by Benjamin Runkle, University of Hamburg
 
 
 
 
 
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