Spring has officially arrived in Finland! The melting snow is uncovering winter’s indiscretions, from plow-damaged benches and bicycles to an staggering amount of winter clothing and 6 months of until-now frozen dog waste. Probably most surprising has been how green the ground plants are immediately upon freedom from the snow.
I have spent the last 2 weeks here in Kuopio dancing attendance upon an analytical machine by the name of a GC-IRMS. This stands for Gas Chromatograph Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer. I’m just gonna call it the IRMS from here on out. The IRMS is the machine that analyzes the isotopic signature of various compounds, and it does this thanks to a really big, really fancy magnet.
I don’t know how many of you already know this, but my dissertation research centers on two microbial processes: methanogenesis, and the anaerobic oxidation of methane (lovingly abbreviated as ‘AOM‘). These processes are two sides of the same biogeochemical coin, and that coin is methane (you may also know or have seen this written as CH4). Methane is one of the current world’s ‘trace gases’, or a gas which comprises less than 1% of the total atmosphere. Despite its relatively minor volumetric contribution, methane is a more potent ‘heat-trapping’ greenhouse gas than the more abundant gases CO2 and water vapor. Let’s therefore assume that it’s a worthy and fascinating research topic, and move on. This is an adorable crocheted molecule of methane that I got as a present a few years ago, that I uninspiringly named Methane:
Tervetuloa Kuopioon! I live in Kuopio now. I actually moved here about 6 weeks ago, but with all my travelling, I feel like it’s taken me this long to actually get to know this city well enough to write a post about it. Some facts about Kuopio (pronounced kwah-pee-oh): it’s situated in Finland’s ‘lake district’, which means the central and eastern part of the country, which looks a whole lot like upper Minnesota (about half the land surface area being water). Kuopio has a population of around 105,000, which apparently makes it the 9th largest city in Finland!