Posted by Clarice; all photos by Melissa.
Last Thursday the NERU group went to Sally’s Fen in Barrington, NH to try out some of the field methods we will be using in Abisko. A fen is a type of mire fed by groundwater or surface water. Typically fens are mineral rich, but Sally’s Fen is a poor fen, meaning that it is nutrient poor. Like all wetlands, Sally’s Fen is a natural methane source. UNH has been collecting data about carbon fluxes at Sally’s Fen for over 20 years.
Carrie, a post-doc at UNH and one of the NERU mentors, talked to the group about the history of data collection at Sally’s Fen and showed us some of the instruments that monitor fluxes of methane and carbon dioxide from the fen. Ruth, the NERU program director, gave a lesson on collecting species composition data using a quadrant, a first for many of the geoscience students in the NERU program this year! Kellen and Jessica practiced using the DGPS to take location data points. They will be using the location data they collect in Sweden, along with species composition data, to improve aerial vegetation maps of Stordalen Mire. Kellen also learned how to collect pore water samples from the fen, a technique he will use in his field work in Abisko to help determine the amount of dissolved methane in pore water and what processes produce dissolved methane. Melissa and I collected samples of sphagnum moss for me to use in trial incubations as I prepare my project on methane oxidation in Stordalen Mire.
After practicing field methods in the fen, we all went over to Sally’s Fen Alpacas, an alpaca farm next to the fen. There were 2 baby alpacas in the pen of females – so adorable! The adult alpacas were recently shaved (the farm makes yarn from their wool), but their heads were still cute and fuzzy. A few of the braver alpacas approached the fence and let us pet them and feed them grass.
On the way back to campus we stopped at Calef’s Country Store to experience a little New Hampshire culture. The store is full of gifts and food from regional craftspeople and farmers. We snacked on cheese samples at the deli, looked through the fare for interesting finds, and left with lemonades and sweets in hand. A great end to a great first NERU field experience!