If the weather is on your side and you’re not out in the field already , each Friday at the station can start the same way for students interested in getting to know the beautiful birdlife here in the Arctic.
In addition to the human crowd, there’s wildlife all around the station. Usually, the wildlife stays hidden in the vegetation at the station. However, every once in a while, some curious specimen leaves their lair and is spotted crossing walking paths and trails.
It’s not Anne’s first time here in Abisko. She’s been here the previous years working on the Nuolja - Fingerprints of change project as intern. In this post, she’ll describe her experiences coming back to beautiful Abisko.
What field work on Mt. Nuolja is about
When I applied for an internship with the project “Fingerprints of Change: Abisko Plants and Phenology” I hardly had an idea of what a day of fieldwork on Mt. Nuolja would mean. I knew that it would entail a hike and probably harsh weather also. As I spent many holidays hiking in the Alps and I had experienced fieldwork during my Bachelor thesis and seminars at university, I thought what could be better than a mixture of hiking and fieldwork. Now three weeks after the start of the fieldseason I know what fieldwork on Mt. Nuolja really means.
Fieldwork on Mt. Nuolja in a few words
To describe it in a few words: the first hour of summiting is very steep and exhausting. As of this first hour, I‘m really looking forward to take the chairlift which will open in less than a month (yeah!!). Then, the summit comes closer and if you are safely grounded thanks to the heavy backpack you also needn‘t be afraid to be blown away by the strong wind ;). You feel exhausted but happy. And then finally you reach the summit. What a great feeling after approx. 800 meters of altitude over approximately less than 2 kilometers. The summit is such a remote place with a stunning view on lake Torneträsk, Lapporten and the wide and uninhabited nature of Lapland. I can’t imagine a better place for lunch!
The real work on Mt. Nuolja
Then, the real work begins - snow measurements and phenology. Equipped with snowshoes, dGPS (to measure points where the snow cover changes) and open eyes for the first signs of developing buds or leaves, it goes downhill over snow fields, areas blown free by the wind and through wet deep snow in the forest. Sometimes it’s best to slide downhill on your butt. Whether wanted or not. But at least after passing the tree line the phenology again demands all the attention. After several days of endless sunshine and temperatures up to 15 degrees, the plants develop quickly. Already, we have seen the first flowers.
The weather forecast for the week continues to promise sunny weather. Let’s see how the vegetation changes until the next field days. Just to let you know, we are on Mt. Nuolja every fifth day for two days in a row. After my internship I will probably be super fit and laugh about 800 meters in altitude. So far, it’s more of a moan than a laugh.
About the author
I had very little idea of what to expect from Abisko. I did my research and talked to the right people. Yet, it was picturing myself being there with no bumps that was impossible.
After a long journey by bus and night train, I was happy to finally arrive in Abisko yesterday morning.
Spending Easter in Abisko
You might wonder how does one spend their holidays in such a small village as Abisko? Does anyone even stay in the village instead of going on vacation or visiting their family?
For me, going home to visit my family during the Easter holidays wasn’t really an option considering that I basically just arrived here in Abisko and I wasn’t prepared for another 2,800km long trip plus sea-crossing.
Instead, I spent my time with other students staying at the research centre. With a group of seven students, we organised our own Easter celebration but we also went for an Easter lunch at the STF touristtation.
In preparation for our Easter breakfast the next morning, I went to Godisfabriken, the local store here in Abisko, to organise some chocolates. I was accompanied by two other students, Franziska and Ellouène. We’ve never seen as many people in the local store as this afternoon. One could almost describe the store as crowded.
After we arrived back at the research station, Franziska and I decided to bake a traditional Easter pastry, an “Easter braid” from our home country, Germany.
Our Sunday morning at the research centre started off early with a nice breakfast. Every person got candy from the store and ate a piece of the “Easter braid”. Since we planned to go for lunch at the touriststation, we had to have an early breakfast. Then, at 11.20 we started the small walk over to the tourist station. There, we took our time to try every dish served at the buffet.
After lunch, our small group of students went for a hike from the touriststation down to the canyon, the lake, and back to the research centre. It was relatively warm (at least for Abisko standards) and the snow had started melting. During our hike we could experience nature in this seasonal change.
We know that usually Easter eggs are coloured before the actual celebration. However, we decided to slightly alter this conventional sequence. After having had the Easter breakfast, Easter lunch, and after hiking, we started the next part of our celebration - the beautification of the eggs. Some students showed to be very outgoing in their design of the eggs by making multi-coloured eggs, others preferred a calmer design and settled with one colour for one egg. The result however is very presentable.
Sunday night was calm after our multi-stage Easter celebration. I used this time to call my family and exchange our experiences of the day. All in all, my Easter here in Abisko wasn’t too different from previous Easter celebrations I had back home.
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About the author
Science Communication at CIRC isn’t just an office job. Here, you get to go out with researchers, students, and staff members of the research station. Out in the field, you’ll not only be a silent observer but you’ll be an active participant.
In the new Student and Intern Life Blog, we will show the everyday life of a student or intern staying in Abisko.