Thursday, 29 May 2014

New Field Season Starting this Week

Zoe Panchen

I arrived in Iqaluit on Monday to start my second field season in the Arctic. When I was in Iqaluit last year, I was amazed to see a star on a Nunavut Territorial Parks' map showing the geographical centre of Canada as being close to Baker Lake, Nunavut. That was when it really sank in how far north I was going. I've reposted the map from last year showing my journey north and my field sites at Iqaluit, Baffin Island and Lake Hazen, Ellesmere Island. I have a total of 10 hours of flying pretty much due north from Ottawa to reach my northern field site!
My route from Ottawa to my field sites at Iqaluit, Baffin Island and
Lake Hazen, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island.
The geographical centre of Canada is close to Baker Lake, Nunavut
The last few months have been busy preparing for the field season. Everything from applying for research permits and funding to dehydrating food for 2 people for 8 weeks at Lake Hazen. The dehydrator has been humming every night drying huge pots of curries and stews. Roger Bull from the Canadian Museum of Nature gave me some helpful hints; he has been preparing the food for the museum's botanical trips to the Arctic for many years. Here is what he had to say on food prep for the Arctic when he was interviewed by CBC recently

                                         A big pot of Jalfrezi curry ready to be dehydrated!
My field work this summer will again monitor the timing of flowering and fruiting of Arctic plants but will be a much more quantitative study this year and focused on a subset of the species we monitored last year. We will be tagging plants of each species and recording the start, peak and finish of flowering and fruit dispersal dates by counting the flowers open or fruits dispersing seed on each plant every 3-4 days. We will also be taking photographs to create a kind of time lapse photography of the phenological progression of each species.
                                         Phenological progression of the spider plant
                                         (Saxifraga flagellaris) at Lake Hazen in 2013

I have 3 field assistants to help me this summer, Emma, an undergraduate in Biology from Carleton University and Joan, a bachelor of science undergraduate at Athabasca University and living in Iqaluit, will be monitoring the Iqaluit sites and Teresa, an undergraduate in Biology at UofT from Iqaluit, will be working with me at Lake Hazen. Look out for posts from all of us as we conduct our field work this summer.


  1. Hope weather is warmer than this time last year.
    Is there any snow lying or perhaps more important, is any forecast?

  2. Zoe, good luck with your summer field work. I hope that you will be eating more than just curry and stew. My choice would have been nuts, oatmeal, raisins, peanut butter, and crackers. Then you would not have had to dehydrate anything.

    In addition to monitoring plant phenology, you might consider some hot-top warming experiments. Will warming up the plants accelerate phenology? What type of thermometers and temperature gauges do you have? Do you have any capabilities to take infra-red photos?

    Richard Primack

  3. Richard, thanks for your comments and suggestions! Your choice of food is good for breakfasts and lunch but after working outside all day a good hearty stew or curry is needed for supper!
    We are using simple thermistors to measure the temperature. The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) has done many hot-top warming experiments and indeed they do advance the timing of flowering. Greg Henry and some of Joseph Svoboda's other graduate students are or have been involved with the ITEX work.