Welcome to the Arctic Long Term Ecological Research (ARC LTER) site, part of a network of sites established by the National Science Foundation to support long-term ecological research in the United States. Our
research site is located in the foothills region of the
North Slope of Alaska
(68° 38'N, 149° 43'W, elevation 760
m) and is based out of the University of Alaska's Toolik Field Station.
The project is based year-round institute at The Ecosystems Center,
Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
The Principal Investigator of the Arctic LTER is Gus Shaver
while Breck Bowden, Laura Gough, Anne Giblin, Chris Luecke,
Phaedra Budy and George Kling form an executive committee and direct the
four main components of the research including groups focused on tundra, streams, lakes, and
landscape interactions. (Arctic LTER personnel)
The long-term goal of
Arctic LTER project is to understand and predict
the effects of environmental change on arctic landscapes.
To achieve this goal the Arctic LTER studies the ecology of the surrounding tundra, streams, and lakes. We hope to gain an understanding of the controls of ecosystem structure and function through long-term monitoring and surveys of natural variation of ecosystem characteristics, through experimental manipulation of ecosystems for years
to decades and through synthesis of results and predictive modeling at ecosystem and watershed scales.
The arctic region has warmed significantly over the past 30 years
and arctic lands and freshwaters are already changing in response.
The changes include a general “greening” of the arctic landscape,
changes in species distributions and abundance, and changes in
geophysical and biogeochemical processes and cycles at local and
regional scales. Recently it has become apparent that climatic warming in the Arctic is accompanied by dramatic changes in disturbance regime, including disturbances related to thawing of permafrost, a surprising increase in wildfire, and changes in the seasonality and synchrony of ecosystem processes. These disturbances have important feedbacks on climate as well as human use of the land, in particular subsistence hunting and harvesting but also tourism and commercial resource extraction.
For the years 2010-2016, our Overall Goal is to understand changes in the arctic system at catchment and landscape scales as the product of: (i) Direct effects of climate change on states, processes, and linkages of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and (ii) Indirect effects of climate change on ecosystems through a changing disturbance regime.(See Arctic LTER 2010 proposal).
The Arctic LTER
addresses an important societal goal: the
prediction of response of arctic ecosystems
to environmental change,
both natural and anthropogenic. The
data and insights gained
are provided to federal, Alaska state and
North Slope Borough officials who regulate
the lands on the North Slope.
Toolik Field Station Highlights for 2011
New Dining Hall!!
Well House water treatment and distribution systems are up.
Two T1 lines are now used for communication.
Featured in National Media in 2010:
Gretchen Weber, 2010 MBL science journalist, reports on "The Arctic's Effect on California" for Climate Watch on KQED, Northern California's public radio station.
MBL Science Journalism Program Fellows are presently in the Arctic for two weeks with Ecosystems scientist Chris Neill and research assistant Rich McHorney. They are spending time at the Long Term Ecological Research site at Toolik Lake, Alaska, with MBL scientists and others who study the ecology of the surrounding tundra, streams and lakes. Among recent postings are journalists Chelsea Wald's blog for Scientific American and Gretchen Weber's postings to WQED's Climate Watch. The Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which manages the Toolik Lake site, has a media resources web page with background information and recent work by the journalists.
An Arctic With Fire in the April 21 issue of U.S. News and World Report quotes Gus Shaver about the unusual number of Arctic wildfires and their implications for climate change.
Well-known Alaskan author Bill Sherwonit reports on tundra fires in Alaska and research being conducted by Ecosystems Center scientists and others in Yale Environment 360: Arctic Tundra is Being Lost As Far North Quickly Warms.
WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station, featured interviews on its show The Point with Ecosystems Center scientists Hugh Ducklow and Christopher Neill on climate-caused changes to the polar ecosystems. Ducklow spoke live from the Palmer Station Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Antarctica and Neill was in the Woods Hole radio studio.
Toolik Lake first froze October 1, 2009. However warm temperatures reopened the lake near the inlet on Oct 3rd. The lake gradually refroze over the next few days. Then in mid October warmer temperatures reopened the inlet and a moat around the lake. See Toolik EDC Journal for notes on the lake freeze up.
MBL's Logan Science Journalism Program Fellows spent two weeks at the Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research site at Toolik Lake, Alaska. Their stories on climate change research are now available: Dakota Digest, by Charles Michael Ray of South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and Scientists at Toolik Field Station Investigate a Warming Arctic in the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger by Jennifer Weiss. British journalist Tracey Logan writes in New Scientist about tundra fire on the North Slope: Alaska's biggest tundra fire sparks climate warning. While at the station, the journalists blogged about their daily experiences.
Largest recorded tundra fire on North Slope near Anaktuvuk River began with a lightning strike July 16, 2007 and continued burning until Oct. Satellite picture.
Newly added data:
Root Dynamics Project
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants #DEB-1026843, 981022, 9211775, 8702328; #OPP-9911278, 9911681, 9732281, 9615411, 9615563, 9615942, 9615949, 9400722, 9415411, 9318529; #BSR 9019055, 8806635, 8507493. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.