Thursday, December 06, 2007
Right now my samples are frozen. The unthawed ice contains soil and rock that dissolve into a mysterious mix for me to analyze. My advisor, Dr. Berry Lyons, has been looking at rock weathering throughout the world from the tropics to the poles. Weathering is extremely important as is tied with climate change and redistributes chemistry. It is controlled by changes in slope, temperature, biology, and even the amount of water flowing. I am interested in the distribution, weathering and uptake of trace elements in glacier snow and glacier melt.
(Small changes in trace elements may mean large changes for ecosystems, trace elements are like vitamins, good in the right doses, but potentially damaging at higher concentrations). They also act as chemical traces, helping to source wind patterns and snow deposition.
My dissertation work is part of the McMurdo Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program that began in 1993 as a part of an integrated network of 26 sites (mostly in the US) studying ecosystems in all climates. The McMurdo LTER is the coldest and driest end-member. I am working alongside stream-team hydrologists, worm herders (studying nematodes and other soil organisms), glaciologists, and limnologists. Its a great experience and a wonderful team.