Saturday, March 14, 2009

Continuing the work back at Dartmouth

We've been back at Dartmouth for about a month, now. Our soil and moss samples have been shipped from Antarctica so that we can continue to analyze them. We store the samples at Dartmouth in big freezers at -20°C (cold enough to keep their chemical properties from changing, so that they remain the same as when we scooped them up from the Dry Valleys).

We spend a lot of time in the lab performing our analyses. Here, I am weighing some soils into a tin to measure their moisture content. We will also measure the amount of nutrients, ions, microbial biomass, and many other chemical properties of the soils. We will then have to process the data and see what we learned from the field season. There will be graphs to make, papers to write, and new experiments to design from what we learn. It will take a lot of time, and will keep us quite busy until next December when it's time to head back down again!

I've also been to visit my friends at Thetford Elementary School, who followed my blog while I was in Antarctica. I was able to join their class for a morning to talk about Antarctic science, show photos and rock samples, and eat delicious home-made snacks. It was a great home-coming!

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