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(Photo: Fanny Kittler) Min Jung Kwon Martin Hertel Olaf Kolle and Mathias Goeckede left to right in front of the radar station.
Monday, 1st of July 2013
Before we will report about our activities, we would like to use the opportunity to introduce the team, which is working at our site during this summer. All of us are from the Max-Planck Institute of Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.

Martin Heimann is the head of one of the departments of our institute. The department of biogeochemical systems focuses on methods for measuring greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide) in situ and by remote sensing with satellites.
Furthermore numeric models are developed and applied to quantify the large-scale sources and sinks of the greenhouse gases.

In this department Mathias Göckede leads the group "Integrating surface-atmosphere Exchange Processes Across Scales - Modeling and Monitoring".
The research aim of this group is to determine surface-atmosphere exchange processes across scales to investigate influence factors and mechanisms driving greenhouse gas flux patterns.
(Photo: by Martin Hertel) Martin Heimann at our measurement site near Chersky.Within this framework, the group started its work during 2012 to establish a research station near Cherskiy in north eastern part of Siberia in Russia, an environment where the fluxes are highly variable in both space and time.

Min Jung Kwon joined this research group in September of 2012. She will focus on carbon gas measurements with chambers, finding which soil environmental factors influence carbon gas flux.
For this experiment, she will include some chemical and biological investigation of soil.

Fanny Kittler joined the group as a second PhD student in November of 2012 with a background on micro-meteorology.
During her PhD-project she will focus on larger temporal and spatial scale with the eddy-covariance technique and measure fluxes of energy and carbon.
Afterward up-scaling procedures for these fluxes will be developed to improve training and evaluation of global climate models.

(Photo: Martin Hertel) Fanny Kittler during the boat trip from the site back to the stationOlaf Kolle and Martin Hertel are part of the field and instrumentation group of our institute.
They already have been to Cherskiy a couple of times during 2002-2005, when another team of our institute conducted measurements.
We are very happy that they joined our team and travel with us because they already know much about our site and can share their experience with us.
Even when we were travelling to Cherskiy, they remember almost everything what to do at the airport and advised us beforehand what we have to expect during the trip.
Written by Fanny and Min
(Photo: Martin Hertel) Impressions from flight Moscow -YakutskFriday, 5th of July 2013
We will set up our site this summer after working on this project for nearly one and a half year. To be well prepared for such a remote area with harsh climate conditions, it took quite some time but almost all the fundamental work has been done when we started to Cherskiy.
The departure was scheduled on the 20th of June at first, so everyone was ready for the trip. Four days before the start, we were informed that our boxes would not arrive on time, so we shifted our trip by one week.
Before the 20th, we were so prepared physically and emotionally, but on the real start day, we were not very excited or could not feel anything special. We started our trip on the 26th of June in Berlin, flew to Moscow, to Yakutsk and to Cherskiy. The flight itself was almost 13 hours but the great nature outside the window never made us too exhausted. Thanks to the polar night we didn´t have any restrictions on sunlight and could see everything even if the flight was over night.
(Photo: Martin Hertel) Impressions from flight Yakutsk-Cherskiy. Fanny was especially fascinated by the huge rivers because she could really tell which river she was flying over. Min was sleepy most of the time, and hardly looked through the window because she was sitting in the aisle – it could be good sometimes, but not for this trip.

The station where we are staying is amazingly nice. Our "home" right now is an old radar station with a huge antenna on the roof, which was used for receiving TV signal before.
It was transformed for accommodating researchers all over the world, and we can also exchange our techniques and knowledge with others. The facilities are also very nice. For example, we have a huge kitchen which can be also used for meeting, having meals, and spending some time with others.
Hot water is running for 24 hours, and the Internet and electricity are also available all the time, which is fascinating in such a remote area. So it is not very different from the life we have in Germany. Some may say it is even better because we have a cook and get 3 meals a day, at 9 am, 2 pm and 9 pm.

(Photo: Fanny Kittler) Our new home, the old radar station. The only negative thing we found so far is that all our boxes with all the equipment we are planning to install are still on the way.
It is a little bit frustrating right now because we were very motivated to start our field work but without our boxes we have to wait until they come and change our plans completely.
But we are staying positive and trying to find out what we can do before they arrive. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!
Written by Fanny and Min
Tuesday, 9th of July 2013
(Photo: Martin Hertel) Olaf Kolle after cutting the vegetation of a 1x1 m plot with a tussock inside.The day after the arrival at the station we used for a visit to our measuring area to get an overview of the progress. For me it is really exciting because I just saw pictures so far and now I can actually visit the place of my PhD project for the first time.
The site is located nearly 20 km upstream from our station and we have to go by boat, which takes about 30 min for each direction. The boat trip is really an adventure, where one can see beautiful nature and the panorama of the vast landscape.

At the site it is planned to install two eddy-covariance towers within the tussock tundra. One tower will be placed within the drainage ring (tower and ring were installed in 2005 and are still there) while a reference tower (not installed so far) will represent a natural ecosystem.
Both of the tower sites are located along the river in a distance of ~ 800 m, with a central maintenance area in the middle. During our first visit, we were very impressed by the infrastructure our Russian colleagues had prepared already.
The boardwalks, which connect the towers to the central area, are made out of halved pallets and are completely installed with a total length of about 1.5km. Next to boardwalks the power cables are installed at wooden tripod in a height of ca. 2.5 m. At the central maintenance area a container house (wooden house placed at the top of a container) is being built at the moment to accommodate the workers and the people who will stay at our site to keep the generator running during the winter.
(Photo: Martin Hertel) Container house at the central maintenance area. Currently, the workers stay in the generator house, which is an old trailer for electricity supply. Now, the next steps are to build wooden cabins next to the towers to store the analyzer and loggers.

Maybe, what I describe right now, doesn´t sound so fascinating for the people in Europe, but you have to keep in mind that in this remote areas no building supply store exist, where you can buy for example building material and cables.
Also there are no trees in this area, which can be used as building material and for this reason everything, which we want to use, has to be transported to the site, sometimes over long distances. So finding all the building material, transporting it to the actual site and installing it is quite an accomplishment – we certainly owe our Russian colleagues a big favor for this!

(Photo: Fanny Kittler) Fuel tank (left) and generator house (right) at the central maintenance area.Unfortunately our instrumentation boxes didn´t arrive during the next days. Therefore we had to improvise, and conduct parts of the research plan that can be done without our missing equipment. We conducted some transect measurements to get a better insight into the spatial variability of conditions on the site (e.g. thaw depth, water table depth), identified the positions of the chamber flux measurements, and did vegetation analysis.
Finally, on Monday evening we got the news that our boxes cleared customs and are now on their way towards Cherskiy via air cargo transport. Now it is just a matter of days until we will receive them and we are looking forward to that day.
Written by Fanny
(Map: Google Earth edited by M. Hertel) Cherkii Area: map of area around Cherskiy, with the city, the station (NESS = North east science station: and our site.Friday, 12th of July 2013
The town of Cherskiy is situated about 3 km to the west of the Northeast Scientific Station where we're currently staying. It provides all the central facilities for the area, and is also the only connection of the area to the rest of the world. Its airport offers flights to the city of Yakutsk in central Eastern Siberia about 5 times per week, about 2000 km and a four hour flight away.
The city is the administrative center of Nizhnekolymsky District of the Sakha Republic, Russia, and is populated by about 3000 inhabitants.
In former times, during the cold war the city was used as a military station to test military equipment under extreme climatic conditions. About 30000 people used to live here, but today most of them left due to the hard life in the remote area without any kind of industry left.
(Photo: M. Heimann) Impressions from Cherskiy city. From left to right: Fanny Kittler, Martin Heimann, Martin Hertel, Olaf Kolle, Min Jung Kwon.Cherskiy is named after the polish explorer Jan Czerski, who organized several expeditions in the surrounding area in the 1880.
Furthermore a mountain range to the southwest of the city is also named after him. The city is located at the banks of the Kolyma River, 100 km upstream from the Arctic Sea.
The Kolyma is one of the main rivers of Russia, with a total length of 2130 km and a basin size of 644,000 km2. During the winter it is frozen up to a depth of 1.5 meters and during these times the Cherskiy airport is shifted from the land to the river. After the ice breaks up flooding appears during spring.
Yesterday we decided to make a 'sightseeing tour' through Cherskiy. Earlier, I saw parts of the city when we were passing from the airport to the station, but I have to admit I was too tired to get a good impression from just driving through, and what I saw didn't look too promising.
(Photo: F. Kittler) Residential on stilts in Cherskiy. Because many people left the city during the last decades, lots of buildings are neglected or even deserted, which leaves the impression of something like a ghost city.
Now that we visited the city by feet in the afternoon I could get a better insight and the impression has changed. The city was very lively and you can see that the people are trying hard to keep everything running.
They definitely try their best to deal best with the harsh situation here in the north. I have a lot of respect for the people who still live here and are able to "survive" - I can image that this not as easy as it seems in the winter time with temperatures around -40°C.
The local museum, which we also visited two days later, was very impressive. For such a small city without tourism, the collection was quite impressive. We learned a lot about the local traditions and the way people are living in the northern parts of Russia as well as the regional nature and wildlife.

(Photo: F. Kittler) Airport in CherskiyConcerning our actual project here, we're unfortunately still waiting for our boxes with equipment to arrive. After some delays in customs there were some more minor problems with the air cargo shipment which cost us another few days, and in the end this resulted in the boxes missing the cargo plane from Yakutsk to Cherskiy that would have brought them here in time.
Currently, the instruments are stuck at Yakutsk airport and we have to wait for the next cargo plane to get them here. It is a bit frustrating to see our time here passing by without starting your actual work.
Fortunately, within certain limitations it's possible to conduct some more intensive surveying projects on the observation site to prepare for the actual carbon flux measurements.
Written by Fanny