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ITEX Biology

— The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) Arctic Observing Network (AON) was started in the early 1990′s to study environmental change in the Arctic. Multiple instruments, configured along a tram-like platform, gather detailed 3D data about the tundra ecosystem below. The project establishes a baseline of high resolution measurements of Arctic plants and helps record and decode how they are changing over time.


On the ITEX Robotic Tundra Tram multiple instruments configured along a tram-like platform sense the tundra below and gather detailed data about the Arctic ecosystem while traveling along a 50 meter transect. The high resolution information is more detailed than that gained by a satellite or by a meteorological station. In the video ITEX: Tram Powered Nathan Healey, post-doctoral research associate at Florida International University, describes the instruments and types of data they gather.

In a more detailed study, masters student Jose Luciani in video ITEX: Node to Node digitizes the growth variation of individual plants. Luciani wants to know if it is more advantageous for a plant to grow horizontally or vertically in the changing Arctic environment.

Steven Oberbauer, professor of biological sciences at Florida International University, said: “We collect the data, we post the data. They are going to be in a national archive, so 50 years from now, if somebody wants to come back, they can look at a 3D image, a 3D movie of the transect. They can look at specific plants that are there over the years, over the days. That’s the object of the project, to establish a baseline of high resolution measurements.”

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