I had my first truly difficult field day this month, the kind of day that leaves you questioning your life choices that brought you to this place and moment in time. Okay, perhaps a little melodramatic, but I am choosing to not curb my vitriol, so fair warning – a bit of hyperbole is about to happen.
Today is the winter solstice (aka: midwinter), making this the darkest day of the year! Speaking from the admittedly-biased perspective of the Northern Hemisphere, I’m gonna drop some astronomical science on you, in honor of this short, dark day.
First, a question for the audience: What causes the seasons? (dig deep in your mind back to 7th grade physical earth science) You have the space of 2 random pictures from Rovaniemi to solidify your answer…
Okay, so the combination of a grant application, a roadtrip, another trip to Helsinki, and sample analysis that requires my attention means that I’ve been sort of a slacker with the updates. So here’s my attempt at catching you up on the last month – don’t worry! It’s only a highlight reel.
This week I got snowed in at the Kevo field station. Ensilumen (en-see-lou-men) is what they call the ‘first snow of the year that sticks’. It’s slippery, and loose and not yet compacted. I bused up to Kevo while it was really cold, but there was no snow on the ground yet, but when I woke up on my field day this week, this is what I saw from the front door of the station:
It seems like I should introduce my field site, since it’s the whole reason I’m here this year. Welcome to Petsikko (pet-see-koh), as it’s called by locals here, which is a system of close-to-the-road wetlands in the higher elevations near Kevo. It’s 50km south of Utsjoki, and 25km south of the Kevo field station. There is a little path leading from the road out to the ‘wet places’, as the field tech here calls them. The wetlands are actually pretty extensive, interspersed with higher mounds and areas known as palsas (the little islands of soil in the wetness, shown below), some of which contain ice lenses, or permanent ice inside of the mounds. There’s no permafrost (permanently frozen soil) anywhere in Finland, but this is about as close as it gets. Continue reading