Time-Lapse of an Arctic Circle “Sunset”

October 7, 2013 | by Elizabeth Wason

The days at Toolik Field Station in northeast Alaska can be long. Partly, the extended days are a function of the hard work involved in researching big ecological questions using both field and laboratory work. The days also seem to last forever because they sort of do—for several consecutive weeks around the summer solstice, the sun never dips below the horizon.

Jason Dobkowski (’06) has spent several summers conducting field work at Toolik; currently, he is a master’s student and research assistant in LSA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Despite the limited access to showers, civilization, and the night sky, Jason has returned to Toolik every year since 2008. His collaborative work with other scientists at the field station has led to a recent journal article about how sunlight affects the chemistry of organic matter in Arctic lakes. “What we’ve shown in this paper is that sunlight plays a very important role in how much CO2 will be released as the Arctic continues to thaw, which is something that hasn’t really been looked at before,” he says.

After a typically long day of data collection this summer, Jason set up a time-lapse camera near Toolik Lake before heading to bed in his tent. Featured here is the resulting footage of an Arctic Circle summer “sunset.” Note the last of the winter ice floating on the lake; two days later, all of that ice had melted.

This video was filmed on June 26, 2013, spanning the hours between 12:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The time-lapse camera captured a picture every 10 seconds. The playback rate is 30 frames per second.




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