12 January, 1997
I have spent a very comfortable night in my mountain tent. The snow was softly falling, a slight breeze and,of course, daylight all night. Does that make it night light?
Do you want to hear about all the environmental conservation and recycling that happens here? Well, very small amounts of water are used for dishes, and there is a small communal pan of warm water by the door of the hut for us in which to wash hands. Cans, paper and plastic are collected, boxed and flown out via helicopter. All urine is collected and put in an evaporator powered by a solar pannel and solid human waste is burned in a propane fired outhouse. Nothing touches the ground here. Lab wastewater from experiments is either evaporated or put in a gray water tubs to be flown out also. The ease with which this works is impressive.
This morning I went for a walk along the glacier listening to it crack and pop. The glacier sounds are the only sounds that one can hear. Otherwise there is total silence. There are no birds, insects, or any other visable living things. There are no sirens, phones ringing, traffic or television. There are huge mountains, rocks of various colors, lots of gravel and boulders scattered about, and there is the lake. The science being done here is exciting.
Limnology tests are being done today. These tests are part of the LTER teating program and must follow a specified protocol. This means that at 4:30 this
morning a team of three went out to the collection hole near the center of the lake and collected 5 liters of water each from 14 different depths. This was dragged back to the lab on a banana sled. Also a primary productivity was started with samples from each depth. These samples were put into bottles, treated and
suspended at their collection depths to incubate for 24 hours. What is really being measured by this test? What can the data from this test tell us about the ecosystem? Why might this be important to an LTER site? How is this soght more significant? This test is done on three lakes in the Taylor Valley. In a few days we will take a helicopter to Bonney Lake and spend three days at a remote site camp to do the same series of tests on that lake water.
Another test done on the water sample taken today is ETC test. This is a test of the electron transport system in cells to determine how many of the cells in a given volume of water are resipring at the time of collection. The assay (test) for this involves filtering 1500mls of sample, grinding up the filtrate and exposing it to a substrate that will accept electrons from the system if it is functional. The result is the formation of formazon crystals which are pinkish red. The amount of respiration is then measured by using a spectrophotometer. This test will tell us at what depth the organisms are alive, respiring and most numerous. This test takes about six hours to do and we are processing 9 depth samples.
There are about twenty test done with each water sample. I have just explained a few of them to you. What other kinds of tests do you think we do?
After dinner four of us went out to the dive hole on the lake. The surface is trecherous because of all the melt holes caused by sediment causing pools of melt water that has a thin sheet of ice covering it. The fresh snow makes it difficult to tell where these thin places are. The pools can be three or four feet deep, not the kind that one wants to fall into. When all the gear is carried out and the hole opened up by chipping the frozen cover away, Dale dove under the ice to place a long term experiment on the bottom of the lake. We are interested in the rate of organism colonization on sediment. Several cakes of gravel like the lake bottom were made with water and allowed to freeze. There are five thin cakes and three thick cakes. Five stakes have been places on the lake bottom at various depths. The sediment cakes were positioned by the diver and will be left ther until next year. At that time, cores will be taken from the seniment cakes to determine who is growing there and how many of each kind of organism. Whew! That is a lot of stuff for one day.
Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.