Field to Lab


Today's field experience was again with Kyle from the LTER lab. We went into the 9 forest plots (3 deciduous  3 coniferous, 3 succession) to set up soil moisture evacuation and collect soil samples. At each plot, I was able to use the pump to set pressure in the flask that will draw out soil moisture over the next 24 hours. During this, Kyle collected soil from 4 or 5 spots per plot. Back in the field lab, the soil was sieved to remove rocks and then will receive a chemical treatment tomorrow.

After lunch, I joined Keven Kahmark to watch him set up the gas chomatograph (GC). He has designed the program that automates the sample testing and can be done overnight once all labels are put into the computer program. He created a few standards to test the samples against. The standards had different amounts of the 3 greenhouse gasses being tested. Then all vials were placed in the rack one at a time, with some double checking to make sure that everything was in order!

Kevin explained that one focus of these tests was the amount of nitrous oxide in the samples. Carbon dioxide gets a lot of attention as a greenhouse gas, but he said that nitrous oxide can be more harmful at a 300:1 ratio and is the new "dragonslayer" of the atmosphere. A lot of this is caused by over-fertilization in agriculture. A lot of the research in the LTER plots is to see at what point the addition of fertilizer has diminishing returns (or worse a great economical and environmental cost).
Taking a lysimeter reading.
Every single vial needs to be lined up correctly!!
Creating the standards for the GC
Kevin is lining up labels in the GC program

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