I'm starting a blog to describe the work that a number of my colleagues and I have just begun, on the North Slope of arctic Alaska. The project is funded by the US National Science Foundation and the technical details will be reported in all the standard places that we normally use: scientific journals, presentations at professional meetings, and technical seminars. But I thought it might be useful to provide a more accessible, "insiders" view of why and how we are doing this research. To be honest, we do this research because it's fun. The picture to the right is of Toolik Lake with Jade Mountain in the background, at about 3am in the morning the other day. The sun barely sets here at this latitude. This picture was taken from my lab trailer at the Toolik Research Station operated by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. It's truly a privilege to to work in such a well-equipped and beautiful place.
But we also do this research because we are inherently curious and want to know how the arctic landscape works and how it might be affected by changes that others have predicted are likely to occur in this important environment in the future. We don't necessarily think these changes will be "bad" nor do we think they'll be "good". The definition of those terms is relative. But it's pretty clear that the arctic landscape will be "different". Whether that difference is "important" or not is, I think, a matter of personal, community, and societal opinion. But we would like that opinion - and the policy it generates - to be informed by objective and useful data.
In future installments, I'll describe a bit about our project and I'll ask some of my colleagues to tell you a bit about how they are contributing to this exciting new initiative. Blogging about our research is a new way of expressing ourselves. We hope you find it at least interesting, and perhaps even useful!
Cheers. Breck Bowden