Friday, May 01, 2009

Pictures from our 87 degree-day April sampling

Annette & I took some pictures from our recent cornfield endeavors.  (Thanks for bringing your camera Annette!)
Me waiting for the Licor to take a soil respiration measurement from a no-till corn field prior to planting.
Me taking a groundwater percolation sample from the large, in-ground, lysimeter in Coshocton, Ohio.  

Surface water runoff from the mixed landuse site.  The water is cloudy because the weir was recently dredged to remove sediment from the water-chemistry auto-sampler.

Annette and Carla sample the stream above the dredging activity. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The microbial underworld, undergraduates, and exciting implications

It has been a while since I've blogged.  I've been sciencing away

Also, Carla and Michael, the two undergrads working with me, have been working up their data on agricultural land alkalinity and tropical glacier silicate weathering, respectively for posters coming up this week and in May!  Nice Work!  

And I have some new very, very, very, very exciting data from the cornfields that has some implications for the affects of landuse on the carbon cycle.  I am dying to bust it out here, but I haven't seen anything similar published to date, so for the moment, I'm like a kid waiting for the tooth fairy... jumping up and down in my seat. I hope I'm not leaking.

And it is back to the cornfields on Monday.  It will be as pictured below, the weather is supposed to be summeresque. 

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cornfields & Polar Days

Last week was a big week!  I went to the fields and sampled storm runoff from till and no-till plots as well as the forested and mixed landuse sites. It was a rare solo trip because we're approaching the busy season near the end of the quarter at OSU and the undergraduates all have exams to study for and reports to turn in.  The cornfields were far muddier than the forested sites and I suspect filtering those samples might take a while. I had a fun time getting the truck up one of the valleys and stayed in 4wd most of the day. From Friday's storm it is evident that much carbon is lost from plowed landscapes..., but I really have no idea what to expect in terms of soil respiration.  It doesn't seem that much could be living and breathing in the cornfield or even the other plots right now.  Temperatures have dropped from 50 F to 10 F today and won't be much warmer tomorrow.  Carla and I will head back to the fields tomorrow to hook the Licor up at our plots and see what baseline respiration is...pretty soon those plots will move from near flatline to robust exhaling. 

At any rate, on Saturday I went to COSI the Columbus Center of Science and Industry with Rachel Hinz and we led a group of 30 8th grade girls in flubber explorations.  They modeled glacier flow. Flubber is a mesmerizing glue substance that flows viscously and  shares some properties with glaciers... although as the girls noticed, flubber doe not melt.  After this, I flew down the stairs to give a brief slide show of Antarctic travels to a group of 3 to 50 year olds... my slide show followed an explosion set off to draw listeners in... I have to say COSI knows how to draw a crowd.  I may have to begin all my talks with a loud clang and some smoke.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hobbies other than science?

The snow blazes down and fizzles out on our Ohio pavement and fieldwork feels distant. During this season, my poor schnauzer is skittish on the ice and our walks grow shorter. As gray blankets us, I miss the aesthetic aspects of being in the field. And when not working, I find myself reading dark literature until I get into a funk and become one with my couch.

And now, I'm attempting new hobbies; pretty and far away from writing manuscripts or proposalling. Today, I officially enrolled in an evening watercolor class at the Columbus Arts Council. This blog is primarily focused on science capades, but the awescapes I've been fortunate to visit trigger a gut need to do something artistic. For the rest of the winter, I shall stay away from sad literature. That being said, if you want a good couch cry read "The Blinding Absence of Light". It's even sadder than "Blindness" and "The Road".

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Flood Year!!!

Rumor has it that this is a big water year in the Taylor Valley Antarctica! Similar to the 2001-2002 season during my first trip south. Hearing about it makes me think of the teal ponded water on the glacier surface and the gush of water pouring from Canada Glacier near my tent. It will be exciting to see what experiments will be conducted this year now that there has been more thought as to how "floods" change the landscape, geochemistry, and biotic activity in this most unusual polar desert!

Friday, January 02, 2009


Carla and I have been sampling several times now. Each time, my fingers are becoming more solid as the air temperatures drop. To prevent the loss of sensation in my fingers, I put on layer after layer of clothing, which makes me fumble with the bottles more. Fortunately, Carla is much more dexterous than me.

We have also analyzed many of the samples we collected as well as some from storm events that the USDA collected for us. Most of all, I'm happy that we were able to get the pvc soil collars into the ground last week before the ground became to solid to pound them into the ground. Now, we are ready to use the Licor to measure the breath of the earth, or the carbon dioxide emitted from the different land use types. I marked our locations with flags... it seems that we are overdue for a big Ohio snowfall. However, I suspect we may have a good snow free day in January to make our first measurements.