Sampling trip to Finnmark

On the way north across the remaining bit of Sweden, crossing the northeast corner of Finland, and driving into Norway, autumn is progressing. The landscape is turning more colourful the further we go. Forests in patterns of green, yellow, orange and red, and peatlands and tundra with a similar colour palette are never boring to look at.

In Norway, near Karasjok, we met new collaboration partners at a campsite to join their field work on the palsa mire Iskoras together. To get there, we drove on a bumpy road along a river, up a hill, then hiked across the tundra down through a patch of birch forest onto the peatland. So far the most scenic site access we’ve had. The instrumentation on the site showed progressing thaw even though I had no comparison of what it looked like years ago. Chambers that were previously installed on flat palsa top were now lopsided on the edge. Palsa vegetation, which prefers dry conditions, submerged under water and first succession to plants preferring wet soil were visible. Visiting the site together with ecologists I got some new perspectives on collapsing palsas and learned to pay closer attention to the plants and their patterns.

Working on this peatland the handle of our peat corer, a very crucial part for it to function, broke. This could have been the end of peat coring for the trip. A little improvisation was required and I was never happier about bringing something that seemed unnecessary, such as the very heavy replacement handle. We finished a successful sampling weekend together with an evening in the sauna and continued the next morning to the Finnish border to find our next palsa peatland.

The palsa mire near Aidejavri was dominated by a big plateau of frozen peat with occasional slumps in the middle. The plateau was higher here than on other sites we’ve been to so far and we sampled the darkest pore water sample I have ever seen. While sampling our transect, a hill that seemed bigger than all the palsas we have seen so far was visible on the other side of the river. At a close look it turned out it was about twice my height!

Back in Abisko we took some time to unpack, dry and clean all of our equipment both for science and for camping. During the next few days we went to sample another site near Abisko that I had already visited in the summer of last year.

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