Long-term research on climate change in the Arctic will be largely on hold this summer at Toolik Field Station in Toolik Lake, Alaska. “A major worry is not being able to collect data if some unusual event were to occur,” wrote MBL Senior Scientist Ed Rastetter. “The Arctic is undergoing rapid warming. For the most part, the ecosystems have been fairly resistant to these changes, at least on a year-to-year time scale. However, unusual events do occur that we think might jump the system response to warming forward.”
By Chelsea Harvey
Mike Webster normally would be trekking around the wilds of New England by now, searching for flashes of blue and white among the trees.
Each spring, he travels to the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to study the black-throated blue warbler — a tiny migratory songbird that splits its time between the Caribbean and eastern North America.
An ornithologist at Cornell University, Webster is part of a long-term study that’s kept tabs on the birds for decades. Webster joined in the 1990s, but the study has been ongoing since the mid-1980s.
For now, though, Webster is stuck at home. This could be the first year in the project’s history that scientists don’t collect any data at all. It’s a worrisome prospect that faces his work and an untold number of long-term research projects worldwide.
“Right now, our plan is to send a much smaller field crew to Hubbard Brook, if and when we’re allowed to do that,” Webster told E&E News. Read more …
Caption: Scientists are concerned that the pandemic could threaten data collected on a wide variety of subjects, including the black-throated blue warbler. Wikimedia Commons