Hi! My name is Karla Sorensen. Please join me while I travel to Maryland to study Climate Change and Fragmented Forests.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Question Time!

I have lots of pictures and videos to show you all, but instead of giving you more information and tasks today, I want to hear what you think. Do you have any questions about what we're doing here? What do you think about it all? I'll be back on Monday, but I look forward to seeing what you have to say!

Lastly, I'll leave you with some images.

Here I am using Calipers to measure coarse woody debris.

And here I am seriously grossed out by the huge fungi growing on this stump (and everywhere else in this forest)!

And we finally made it up to the meteorological tower!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What do you think?

We've had quite a few discussions these past few days about Climate Change and Global Warming. What causes it? What will it cause? What can we do about it? Is there any hope? There is no one right answer for any of these questions, but we all think it is important that we start thinking about them and talking about them.

So what do you think? What do you already know about climate change? What do you think about it all?

In lighter news, we spent the morning mapping, identifying, and tagging trees in a swampy marsh area. Even though my new boots didn't let in any water, it sure was cold wading through the creek! And the whole area stinks of rotting leaves, so you're lucky I couldn't capture smells with my camera! If you had to do one job, which would it be: recording information, measuring trees, or nailing the tags into the trees? Why?

We only have one more day here, so I'll be posting just once more before I come home to all your wonderful, beautiful faces! Be Safe and Dream Big!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Litter and Earthworms and Ticks, Oh My!

Today was a beautiful day to be out hiking, so we did plenty of it! In the morning we hiked around to find 4 different plots. Remember, each plot is 1 hectare, which is a little smaller than a track field. In each plot, we had to find the red buckets that previous volunteers had set up. Leaves fell into them, just like they fall on the forest floor. We can collect the leaf litter from the buckets, measure how much mass they have, and then multiply that number by how many buckets would fit in one hectare. That way we know how much carbon is returning to the forest.

We hiked for 5-10 minutes just to find the plot in the forest, and then we had to find all the red buckets within the plot. Click on this picture and post How many red buckets do you see in this picture? It wasn't too hard because all the leaves had fallen, but how would finding the buckets be different in the middle of summer?

We walked by another scientist's research project--Earthworms and Forests. He stuck metal rods into the soil in small areas and would come and send electricity through them. What do you think would happen?

After lunch, we went hiking in another part of the forest where there are 10m x 10m cages that prevent deer from eating the plants. We measured the length and diameter of all of the big dead branches (called coarse wood debris) that had fallen to the ground. Our group of 9 teachers was able to measure 16 small plots, but there are 64 total that needed to be measured. What fraction of the data did we collect today?

Lastly, we had to check for ticks when we came back...and I was the only one who had one on me! It wasn't the kind that spread Lyme's Disease, but it was still pretty gross. I got to tape it to the wall of ticks and label it--I'm kinda famous now!

Last question
(to make sure you were reading): What are 2 things you can measure to see how much carbon is returning to the forest?

Thanks for reading, and keep up the great research!

Be Safe and Dream Big!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Learning all about Field Research

Today we got a tour of the whole campus--the old growth forests, the new growth forests, the education center, and the labs. We learned about safety in the field (hunting season means we all get pretty orange vests!) and about how to take measurements of trees.

We then practiced measuring the DBH of trees, or the Diameter at Breast Height. You might wonder why we are measuring the circumference and not the distance across, but it is because they have special measuring tapes that have already converted circumference into diameter.

We then entered our data into a database. You can see from this chart that volunteers before us have done a lot of work, but there is still a lot to be done!

Lastly, we toured the education center where students come on field trips. I got to hold this Blue Crab, which was not as gross as I thought it would be!

At night we had a class on Climate Change that went until 9:30 p.m.! At least I got a short mountain bike ride in before my 12 hour day!

Your task: Comment on which of the things I did today YOU would like to do the most: biking, learning about safety rules, hiking through the woods, measuring trees, holding a crab, or sitting in class.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where in the world is Karla Sandiego?

I’m not at PYC, so where am I? I’m in Edgewater, Maryland, of course!

To get an idea of where that is, go to maps.google.com and paste in the following coordinates:

N 38° 53' 20" W 76.5525

I will be living in this, the Green Dorm for the next week and will be hiking in the forests around the area to do our research.

Answer the bolded questions in a Word document, then copy and paste them into a comment box. You will be graded on your responses, so write in complete sentences!

What is all the brownish red? What is all the green on the right side? You may have to zoom in and out to figure it out. (HINT: is it forest, water, or buildings?)

Now zoom out, little by little. What is the nearest big city to me in Edgewater, Maryland? How far (in miles or in time) am I from the capitol, Washington, D.C.?

So why did I have to fly all the way to Maryland to study a bunch of trees?!

In a new tab or window, go to the website http://www.serc.si.edu/about/background.aspx

What does SERC stand for, and what is it?

What are 3 things unique to the SERC that we don’t have or can’t do in Minneapolis?

Go to maps.google.com in this same tab or window. Type in 2210 Oliver Ave, N. Minneapolis, MN 55411 to see where PYC is.

Compare and contrast the two places, making sure you are on the same scale for each of them [ex: 3 notches from the (+)]. Stay within 6 notches from the top.

From PYC, what is our closest body of water? What is our closest forested area? If we were to study forests once I get back, where do you think we would go?

Okay, that’s all for today. I can’t wait to read your comments and responses to my many questions! [Please make sure you choose the Name/URL profile so I know who wrote it!]

Be Safe and Dream Big!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Your very first blog assignment!

Welcome to my blog, everybody! Though I will miss seeing all your beautiful faces, I am super excited about my upcoming research trip. Hours of hiking, living in the woods, canoeing, doing science...ya' gotta know I'll love it! I will be doing research from Nov. 29th - Dec 4th, and then I'll spend a day and a half in Washington, D.C. to learn all about our country's history!

But just because I'm gone, you DON'T get to stop working! I'll be checking this site every day to make sure that you have commented, so I need to make sure you know how to comment.

Your first assignment is to read the following info that I got from the program and answer the questions below.

"The research will be based on 1 hectare sample plots that have been set up in forest patches of different sizes and species compositions.

In each plot, all trees larger than 5 cm in diameter will be tagged, numbered, identified to species, and have their diameter measured.

To monitor tree growth responses to climate, dendrometers will be attached to some of the trees. Dendrometers are bands wrapped around trees using springs, that stretch as the tree grows, and include marker points that allow small changes in tree size to be recorded over short, even monthly, timescales.

Another rapid response of trees to climate is the production and loss of leaves...Leaf production can be recorded visually and by taking photographs of the forest canopy from below while falling leaves will be collected in litter traps...

Eventually all trees dies, and their stems and branches...[become] important habitats for many animals and their prey, and support the multitude of fungi that break down wood for food and release the carbon stored therein back to the atmosphere. The quantity of dead wood on the forest floor will be recorded.

A small number of key animal species, such as deer, will be selected for study. Their reproduction, growth, and migration through the landscape will be monitored."


(**remember to type your answers in Word first and then copy them into the comment box of the blog**)

1. Look up how big a hectare is in meters. How big is it compared to a sport's field or court?

2. List 9 research activities I might do during the week.

3. Predict what my favorite part about the whole experience will be!