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.