Tuesday (6/27) – Trip to Seydisfjordur

with No Comments

Work for the day started with some of us (including myself) assisting Emmet in the analysis of the soil samples collected by the alumni, while others took a hike and collected the first set of Ground Truthing points.

A particularly acidic soil sample

After lunch we all went to Seydisfjordur to listen to presentations at the community center. The first presentation was delivered by the students from Glasgow about their research involving the birds and arctic foxes around Skálanes. The second was delivered by Charlie about what we have been doing a Skálanes. The stird presentation was given by Kate and Autum discussing a documentary that they want to make about the fjord and the salmon farms that are coming.

After the presentations we were allowed to explore Seydifjordur at our leisure, and spend our per diem, as well as buying dinner. Isaac, Mary, and myself went to Skaftfell Bistro, where I ate the most delicious cod that I have ever had.

Delicious Salted Cod served with Mashed Potatoes and Grapes

Digging, flying, and a lot of ACTATGCACGTC…

with No Comments

Another day in paradise, and a bunch more science. Our group has a number of on-going projects at Skalanes: aerial surveying (near infrared and visible light imagery) for archaeology and ecology, soil parameter analysis and DNA extraction in different types of habitats for ecology, and DNA extraction and tephra analysis for archaeology. Today the diggers went to the test pit and continued digging, measuring, and preparing to take horizontal soil cores in the pit tomorrow. The flyers continued to survey two large areas (~1 square km each) in both light modes. These flights generate hundreds of images each which are harvested to our laptops and then run through Open Drone Map to create composite images of the entire area. Lastly, Faith Jackobs (EC ’18 and IFS ’18) arrived from Texas to help Em and I with our 16S rRNA and ancient DNA analysis workflows. She and I are working through our ancient DNA analysis of the samples we took at Stod last year to confirm that the analysis was done correctly. This includes measuring the amount and nature of the damage to the fragments as part of establishing their age. Stay tuned for the results.

Insert obligatory picture of the amazing natural world at Skalanes here…

Poop, poop, everywhere!

with No Comments

Today (June 12th) was our first work day at Skalanes. We woke up to the tern chaos outside our fieldhouse and started the day with breakfast as usual at 9. Afterward, we gathered around for a research briefing on our next few days at Skalanes. The different research groups explained their plan for Skalanes and made their call for recruits as necessary. We also used the time to reflect on our program goals and expectations as individuals and as a community. Lilly has been making progress on her personal goal of pooping more outside and made us aware of a contest in play on who poops outdoors the most that some people were currently competing in and that others were free to join.

We did a quick activity writing down (anonymous) constructive feedback for individual aspects of the different goals that we had established earlier in the program. After that, we touched back on our journals and answered another reflective journal query, fittingly for our time in Skalanes, on the Quaker values of simplicity. We all shared our goals for the day and after lunch, broke into groups to get started with our work.

Lilly and Mads were joined by Gail today on their adventure to the tern nesting grounds. They scouted possible tern nests to sample and install temperature probes. While they (and anyone who passed by) were all hassled by the terns protective of their nests, unassuming Gail seemed to be the unfortunate prime target of the arctic terns this day and came back home covered in tern poop having (barely) survived one too many tern swoop attacks.

While part of our original hiking group for the day, Eli and Rei, stayed behind with Charlie to fix codes for the Elevation platforms we were going to use, the rest of us; Andy, Dre, Arlo and myself, decided to dedicate our time to help Nana and __ with their tree planting project. We caught a ride with them to our location near the stream crossing, and from there we hiked up the hill with stacks of baby birch trees, some fertilizer, and the dig tools.

Nana told us that the baby birches we were carrying that were at most 8 inches tall were around five years old, speaking to their slow growth in the harsh Icelandic outdoors. We were planting the saplings high up on the side of a hill so that they would be shielded from the Easterly and Northeasterly winds as well as from lichen encroachment at least for the next few years until they become tall/strong enough to benefit from their nitrogen-fixing instead of being killed off by them. We were joined periodically by Freyr, the big brown Labrador from the fieldhouse, giving us some moral support while we planted trees. Nana estimated that we collectively planted around 500 trees that day which was a great achievement and an excellent activity for the day.

Across the hill, sharing the company of Freyr with us, were Eli and Rei hiking up the stream where we had stopped. They had managed to fix the elevation platforms and were testing it on a nice hike going upstream towards the waterfall.

Back at the fieldhouse, other things were in motion including a drone check-up and a laboratory set-up. Emi and Faith set up a lab in an available room for DNA extraction and soil testing purposes. Neil, Jacob, Jeremy, and Ahsan worked on point-cloud analysis, LiDAR data, and other software and hardware aspects of our dear drones, Carmen and Lundy, with the help of Nick and Kellan. When the hiking groups came back home for the day, we found a few guys working outside near the shed and went in to find a wet floor in the shoe area next to the first bathroom. Apparently, the bathroom laundry or the toilet had flooded and was tracked to a problem with the sewage/septic tank in the fieldhouse. At cheers and jeers time, everyone made it a point to give cheers to the people who came and dealt with all our poop. It wasn’t a poopy day but there sure was poop and poop stories everywhere!

And now available in video…

with No Comments

One of the things that was different about this year’s trip was that two of Earlham’s Marketing folks joined us for four days, two at Skalanes, one at Solheimajokull, and one at Laki (and a lot of time in the van/car/trucks gluing all that together). Susanna Tanner and Mark Brim trudged around in the rain and wind taking pictures, video, interviewing people, eating and traveling with us. We were really happy that they were forced chose to come to Iceland and work with us. This video is the first bit to come from that, more to follow.