A journey to the middle of nowhere

Over time we were slowly ramping up the adventure factor of field work. From the comforts of the station, to camping with indoor kitchen and field work company, after some time back at the station in Abisko we ventured further off the main road. With a good description and a GPS track we set off to Pulsujärvi further north than Abisko, an hour off the main road towards Finland. As soon as we turned off the main road, the trees had soon lost all their leaves and we approached the end of autumn. We went through impressive landscape with far views and a huge river to cross on the way.

Every day we hiked up the hill to the mire, the biggest palsa complex on our journey so far sitting on a plateau between mountains. Walking across wet mire to reach the palsas I wondered how long they would be accessible for with the frozen peat collapsing into ponds.

This site was both incredibly impressive because of the size of the palsas and because of the very dramatic collapse. At the other peatlands we had seen, the collapse was quite gentle. Here, big slabs of peat had fallen off the edges of palsas straight into ponds, growing over with bright green sphagnum. At one palsa we could even see the ice core exposed, slowly dripping with water.

Visiting the palsas in Stordalen near Abisko again after this made the Stordalen palsa seem even smaller. Was it the changed perspective or did the palsas thaw a lot since last year? One palsa edge we walked past daily last year sunk to maybe half its size. This was new, because the vegetation under water was still palsa vegetation.

At the start of our field work around Abisko and further north nature made first colour changes and now 3 weeks later trees started dropping their leaves. It is time to say goodbye to wide Arctic landscapes, days out on the palsa mires, the station and all the people we met, and to return back to Bristol with a lot of samples. At this point I would like to say thank you for the support we got at the Abisko Scientific Research Station!

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