Field Notes on Climate Change Podcast

The podcast from the front lines of Arctic Research

This is a pioneering climate change podcast from the front lines of Arctic climate research. Each episode, we'll join a different team of scientists out in the field as they conduct their field research. From carbon emissions released by changing soil types as the permafrost thaws to the changes in the species’ range and distribution of alpine plants adjusting as warmer winters and longer growing seasons change their environment, this podcast explores how their cutting-edge research helps us to understand climate change better.

Each episode of the podcast can be streamed below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Acast, YouTube or on PodBean.

Listener Survey 

After listening, please consider taking part in a short listener survey. It'll take less than 10 minutes, all responses are anonymous and the data collected will form part of Emma Brisdion's MSc thesis.

Click here to take the survey.


[EPISODE 7] Copepods: Zooplankton and Microscopic life in arctic lakes

In this episode, we're dragging a net through the waters of some of the arctic lakes in Stordalen to catch copepods, a type of tiny crustacean that lives in the water. 

We're measuring their growth rates in different types of ponds to see how they react to an increase in organic matter in the water, which is likely to occur as climate change brings increased water and terrestrial plant material into these environments.

This week's guests are Steph Owens from the University of San Francisco, and Danny Lau, from Umea University.


[EPISODE 6] Going Underground: Carbon Emissions From Our Changing Arctic Soils

In this episode, we're heading out into the Arctic tundra. Here researchers are investigating the increasing release of stored carbon from Arctic soils into the atmosphere. In an Arctic tundra ecosystem, peat and permafrost store more carbon than trees and vegetation.

With climate change, permafrost is melting and trees are growing faster and further into the carbon-heavy peat regions in the tundra. As trees drop leaves and add organic matter to the soil, the soil composition changes from peat to thinner mineral soils without as much carbon. The team are quantifying the rates of carbon released into the atmosphere from the decomposition of these carbon-heavy soil types, to help global models better understand how an increasingly warming arctic will contribute to increasing natural carbon emissions. 

Thanks to Tom Parker, Jens-Arne Subke and Phil Wookey from the University of Stirling, and Lorna Street from the University of Edinburgh for sharing their research in this episode.


[Episode 5] Simulating Global Warming: How Will Plant Communities Grow in Plus 2 Degrees?

By placing OTCs (open-top chambers best described as a small a plexiglass greenhouse with an open-top) on top of plots of natural Arctic plant growth above the tree line, which increase their internal temperature by 1-2oC, we can see what happens to the plant communities when given warmer seasons.

If tree growth increases in the Arctic, the region will lose some of it’s large, white snow-cover, important for reflecting heat from the sun.

In this episode, we cross Lake Tornetrask to establish these OTCs on a mountainside, then return to the Abisko Scientific Research Station to speak to Ellen Dorreppal, Senior Lecturer at Umea University, about her work.


[Episode 4] Mountain-top Species: How are alpine plant communities shifting with climate change?

‘Our mountains are shrinking!’ shout headlines referring to summits and climate change, while that’s not literally true, our mountains are staying pretty much the same shape and size, it’s the alpine region, the coldest part of the mountain top, that’s shrinking thanks to climate change.

What’s happening to the plant communities that live on these summits, is of great interest to plant ecologists. Are warmer–adapted species able to move up the slope? Will they compete with our summit species? Are we going to lose our specially-adapted species?

To find out more, this episode joins Bente Graae, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Pieter de Frenne, from the Forest and Nature Lab at Ghent University in the field, surveying plots at several summits around Abisko.


[Episode 3] Methane-Burping Lakes: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Arctic Lakes and Permafrost Thaw

Did you know that lakes burp methane? We head to Stordalen, one of the world’s most important permafrost and thaw pond sites, to find out how lakes and melting permafrost pools are emitting greenhouse gasses. 

First we’re looking at dissolved carbon dioxide and methane transfer into the air from surface water with researchers from Arizona State University & Umea University, and how that varies with different vegetation in lakes, and then we’re speaking to a student from the University of New Hampshire about ebullition - the bubbles of methane produced by microbes in lakes.

Finally, we head to Riksgränsen to use Radon gas as a tracer to measure movement of groundwater into lakes, and see whether methane enters the lake environment from its water catchment area, with a team from Umea University.


[Episode 2] Bumblebees in the Arctic; How Might Climate Change Impact Our Specialised Pollinators?

Armed with insect nets and measuring pots to catch and record different Arctic bumblebees, join Ryan and Lottie from Imperial College London, as they investigate the plant-pollinator relationships that characterise the lives of our arctic bumblebee species.

By understanding how the different bumblebees interact with the different flowering plants at different heights on the mountain and through the seasons, we can predict whether these bees might be impacted by climate change; if the plants flower at different times to ‘usual’ with warmer summers, the timings of bees seasonal emergence may not properly coincide.


[Episode 1] Chasing the tree line: 100 years of Watching alpine plant phenology change with a changing climate

Join a team observing plant development along a transect that stretches from the top to the bottom of Mount Nuolja. 

Swedish Botanist, Thore Fries, collected data 100 years ago in the same spot, so we can compare today to the landscape a century ago. This helps us understand the impact of climate change on specialised arctic plant species.


Get in touch

If you’ve got any feedback or questions about the podcast or the research featured in any of the episodes, or you’d like to get in touch with the researchers involved, please do send Emma Brisdion an email using the form below.

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Listener Survey 

After listening, please consider taking part in a short listener survey. It'll take less than 10 minutes, all responses are anonymous and the data collected will form part of Emma Brisdion's MSc thesis. Click here to take the survey: