A environmental science professor and two students from Western Washington University will take part in The Polaris Project in the Siberian Arctic this summer, an international research project started in 2008 that examines how global climate change is affecting the Arctic region.
Andy Bunn, an associate professor at WWU, will be joined by students Heidi Rodenhizer and Katie Heard in July for the monthlong research trip.
Students will assist in collecting baseline data for the project, while also being able to conduct research on their own areas of interest. unn said this is unique to research trips, where students normally assist a professor or graduate student and can lack the freedom to do their own projects.
Rodenhizer’s project will include collecting data about the above-ground carbon stores in the Kolyma watershed of Siberia. Carbon is stored in the plants in the area, but the current amount of carbon there is not well known. Her work will help to figure out the amount currently in the Kolyma watershed.
Heard’s project will focus on carbon stocks (the amount of carbon in the ecosystem) in a small area of the Kolyma watershed. She will also look at the relationship between the carbon stocks and variables in biological processes.