Blog, Kaktovik, Outreach, Science camp, Teaching

Science Camp Snapshot: Groundwater

One of the coolest parts of the Kaktovik Oceanography Program is teaching local students about how the science we do relates to their local ecosystems. This year, fellow UTMSI PhD student Craig Connolly led an activity on groundwater.
In the Arctic summer, water moves through the thawed soil layer and enters the lagoons, bringing with it nutrients that could be important for the base of lagoon foodwebs. Students got to hammer piezometers (basically well points) into the tundra soil until they hit the permafrost layer, they then pumped up the water and collected it in bottles. We also collected a sample from the lagoon, downhill from the groundwater collection point.
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Craig shows the team how to pump up water from the piezometers
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Tulu gets some groundwater
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Lagoon water. The groundwater sample was much more murky.
Back in the lab, students measured nutrients (nitrate and phosphate) in each of the water samples, demonstrating excellent safe lab technique throughout.
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Cora and Janette show off their PPE
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Troy checks salinity using a refractometer
We found that while both the groundwater and lagoon water had similar levels of phosphate, the lagoon had less nitrate than the groundwater. The students deduced, based on a previous lesson, that phytoplankton in the lagoon must be using up the nitrate that comes from the groundwater. Pretty cool!
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Craig leads discussion of our results
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