Arctic Change 2017 – Thursday – Friday round-up

So, it is the end of the week Friday morning and the final plenary session of the Arctic Change 2017 conference. Team Shrub is not feeling quite as perky as we were at the beginning of this conference, in fact some of us are feeling rather beat! It has been a week of full on science – conferencing by day and preparing talks by night. Last night was banquet night, a big night for Team Shrub – thus the delay with the Thursday round up. So, to find out about our final days at Arctic Change 2017 here is the Thursday – Friday round up.

It was a very proud moment yesterday for everyone on Team Shrub, and for me in particular as their supervisor, when PhD students Haydn and Jakob swept the leader board in positions 1 and 2 for the 1-minute presentation pitch competition. From the very back of the banquet hall to the front of the stage, with shouts and whoops from the Team Shrub table, Jakob and Haydn accepted their awards (with or without shoes on)!

Check out their awesome pitch YouTube videos here on the Tundra Tea Bag Experiment and using drones to quantify Arctic Tundra greening:

Both Haydn and Jakob gave presentations on Thursday at the very same time. Forcing me and the rest of the team to have to choose!!! Haydn presented Team Shrub’s tundra plant trait research to link vegetation change via traits to changes in ecosystem functions. Jakob presented results from his PhD and the Shrub Tundra NERC project quantifying tundra greening across the growing season using drones and satellite data. Both Jakob and Haydn totally rocked their presentations to packed rooms with great feedback and engagement from the audiences.

Next, Andy presented about his work as a part of the Shrub Tundra project to quantify tundra change using drones. From coastal erosion, thaw of retrogressive thaw slumps to quantifying shrub growth – Andy covered a lot of ground very clearly explaining the rapidly advancing technology and awesome Arctic applications. It was super exciting for me to see our hard work over the past three years on the NERC funded ShrubTundra project presented by the team.

I gave a talk in the UK-Canada Arctic Collaboration session sharing the preliminary results of Team Shrub’s 2017 collaboration funded by the UK-Canada bursary programme. We are collaborating with the Arctic Ecology Lab and Trevor Lantz at the University of Victoria, Robert Fraser at Natural Resources Canada, Jurjen van der Sluijs at the NWT government and Eric Cheyne and Aurora College to quantify tundra shrub biovolume to understand the drivers of tundra shrubification in the Western Canadian Arctic. My talk hopefully convinced the audience of the power of collaboration, and how by teaming up with other groups through this collaboration and also the newly founded High-latitude Drone Ecology Network you can collect data and answer scientific questions beyond the reach of any one group. You can check out our recent coverage in the Toronto Star to find out more about how both Trevor’s group and Team Shrub are studying shrub change and permafrost thaw in the Canadian Arctic.

Over coffee breaks and post presentation chats we have made some great connections this week with collaborators old and new. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Team Shrub posters or came to chat to us after our talks.

After banquet festivities including a performance from Iqaluit’s The Jerry Cans and some late night revelries at Le Sacrilège, it is now the final day of the conference and time to wrap up our ArcticNet meeting experience for the year.

In the final plenary, Louis Fortier spoke to us about the future of ArcticNet and we heard about Yukon College becoming Yukon University. The end of the week makes me think about what is in store for Arctic research in Canada and how UK researchers like Team Shrub can play a role. I hope over the coming years, we will be able to help to answer the key questions facing the Arctic research community such as quantitatively attributing tundra vegetation change to climate warming and testing the correspondence among different records of vegetation change from on-the-ground, drone and satellite records.

The Arctic Change 2017 conference was an excellent week for Team Shrub. A chance for us to present our latest research, meet and hang out with tundra scientists from across Canada and around the world, report back on current collaborations and establish new ones and all and all have a wonderful time in beautiful Québec City. Thank you to the NERC Arctic Office, the British High Commission in Ottawa and the British Ecological Society for supporting our travel. And it turns out that all of our tweeting activity during the conference has payed off, as with our with 73K tweet impressions, we were highlighted as the top tweeters at the conference!

Now that the conference has wrapped there is time for one last meal of poutine. Until next time!


By Isla

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