It’s time for an update on our recent activities at Many Glaciers Pond, the site where we are running the Pulse and Press Project (P3). To recap, this experiment was designed to simulate permafrost (subsurface) melt and subsequent transport of water across the landscape. We will measure what happens to soil chemistry (moisture, salinity etc.) and how the resident animal communities respond to these changes. The soil sampling went smoothly, adding to two previous years of pre treatment data, and while we were extracting and counting nematodes in the lab the final preparations for the watering were being made in the field.
Trenches were dug above the experimental plots to contain the water treatment. A 500 gallon tank was sling-loaded beneath a helicopter and transported to the site, along with other plumbing apparatus and equipment. After 3 years of planning, discussion, debate and speculation it was time to see if this would actually work…
Would the water just sit there, contained in the trench and freeze in place?
Would it erode the trench banks and flow over the surface?
Or would it flow down the hill, over the permafrost layer but beneath the surface, altering moisture content and transporting solutes?
All of this was going through our heads as the first water was pumped into the trenches.
At first the water disappeared quickly, and aside from some minor breaches of the trench walls, the experiment appeared to be working as expected. As more and more water was applied, the draining rate slowed, but still continued through the day. Thermal imaging and sensors for the soils were used to track the movement of water throughout the landscape. More details on this to follow! After two days, 200 gallons had been applied to the experimental plots and we “Wormherders” were a happy group of scientists.