Slouching towards Abisko

Slouching towards Abisko

By Vendy Hazukova

Over the past couple of years, I have exchanged summers in Maine for field work in the Arctic. This summer was no different: I spent a little over two months in West Greenland studying how lakes respond to climate change and after enjoying the East coast sun for a couple of weeks in August, I have embarked on another journey: back to the polar circle, to Abisko.

Hopping from West Greenland to my new destination, Northern Sweden.

My name is Vendy Hazuková and I am a PhD candidate in Ecology and Environmental Sciences working in Jasmine Saros’ lab at the University of Maine in Orono. I am interested in better understanding how changing seasonality affects physical, biogeochemical, and ecological processes in Arctic lakes. While we can see with our eyes that lake ice melts earlier and earlier in the season, and patterns in variability of air temperatures and precipitation change, the conception of what are the consequences of these changes—and how these responses might vary—is largely lacking.

Lake metabolism is one of the variables I am particularly partial to as it reflects that lakes are not isolated bath tubs of water but integrated within a landscape. Across the Arctic, transport of terrestrial material to the lakes varies a lot with precipitation and landscape geomorphology. As a result of very limited precipitation, lakes embedded in the periglacial landscape of West Greenland where I do most of my research, are particularly disconnected from the landscape. However, that might change as precipitation patterns shift and the Arctic is becoming wetter in many regions.

Submerged buoy with sensors measuring underwater light and dissolved oxygen and
cleaning off after a year-long deployment. Photos taken by Mariusz Potocki.

During my LOREX program, I will explore how hydrological connectivity affects lake CO2 emissions across the Arctic. To do that, I will gather CO2 flux data from as many Arctic lakes as possible together with several proxies that are assumed to shape the connectivity between the land surrounding lakes and lakes themselves. To learn more about carbon cycling in aquatic, high-latitude systems, I will work closely with my LOREX host, Dr. Janne Karlsson, and also his PhD student, Fredrik Sundberg, whose research interests align quite nicely with mine.

It was terrific to spend a couple of days in the field with Fredrik and his crew, Leonie and
Quentin. We have all looked better…

I have spent a couple of wonderful weeks in Abisko: getting to know many people, having great discussions about lakes and the Arctic, helping Fredrik with his field work, participating at the CIRC Symposium, getting some work done, and of course, also having some saunas and dipping in lake Torneträsk. Next week, I will hop on a train south: leaving this beautiful, snowy landscape behind and replacing it for the big city of Umeå.

Mid-October Stordalen Mire…

…and some obligatory auroras!

Authors note: the title of this blog is a play on one of my favorite books by Joan Didion, “Slouching towards Bethlehem”

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