Water tracks serve as water drainage pathways. Water from snowmelt moves through the Arctic tundra in curious ways, taking routes through thawed soil overlying frozen ground called permafrost. The water carries vital elements through the ecosystem. All organisms are built of the same elements, and must acquire those elements in order to grow. Researchers tackling the little-explored topic, investigating how Arctic melt water moves through soil in different temperature conditions, what nutrients the water collects, how much and why.
University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology assistant professor Tamara Harmes explains: “All organisms are built of the same elements. We are made mostly of hydrogen and oxygen,” the elements that make up water (H2O). “If we take that away,” she continues, “we are made of first carbon (C), then nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P).” All organisms, plants and animals alike, need to acquire those elements in order to grow.
Scientists at Toolik Field Station know that —except for the second half of August— they can expect it to snow any day of the year. Join them as they delve into the world of Water Tracks.