A Major Climate Force Has Been Ignored for Decades | The Atlantic
Nick Patel, quoted here, was a student in the MBL's Semester in Environmental Science (SES) in 2016, and a teaching assistant in the program in 2018 and 2019. He joined Team Vole at Toolik Field Station in arctic Alaska in the summer of 2021 and was the fieldwork project lead in summer 2022. "Getting a job at Toolik would never have been on my radar, or probably even been possible, if I had not been involved with the SES program. It's easily the coolest work experience, location, and science community I've ever been a part of, so I owe a lot to SES for opening up the opportunity," Patel said. And, he made The Atlantic!
Finding a vole on Alaska’s North Slope takes practice. The open plain pulls the eye upward, toward grand things: the horizon line, the distant shimmer of snow in the mountains. The nearest tree is more than 50 miles away. The low shrubs and sedges toss and wave in the wind. It’s a place where a 600-pound musk ox can look dog-size.
In this landscape, even a very large vole—weighing less than three ounces and no more than nine inches long—is easy to miss. But Nick Patel knows what to look for...
Patel is a field tech with Team Vole, a group of some 20 researchers studying Alaska’s voles and lemmings. Despite their size, these creatures are a force on the tundra. Caribou migrate. So do the geese, ducks, swans, and sandhill cranes that come north by the hundreds of thousands each summer. But voles and lemmings stay put. Unlike many Arctic animals, they don’t hibernate. And as Team Vole is finding, this means that these small mammals—which live throughout the circumpolar north—fundamentally shape the ecosystem around them. In their tiny paws rests a crucial part of the climate’s future: whether the world’s tundra will help pull carbon from the atmosphere, or instead emit more. Read rest of the story here.
Source: A Major Climate Force Has Been Ignored for Decades | The Atlantic