Last week we established the first GLORIA site in the coastal mountain system of Alaska, and the first in the broader region as well. GLORIA, short for Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (http://www.gloria.ac.at/), is a worldwide network of sites where research is conducted in identical fashions - effectively replicating a single study design around the world. It's immensely powerful, because it means that by creating a GLORIA site, you immediately buy into a much larger effort, coordinating your work with hundreds of other researchers around the globe:
Our sites were put in over the first week of July, with help from a variety of people and agencies, including the Juneau Icefield Research Project (http://juneauicefield.com/), the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, US Fish & Wildlife, the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, the US Forest Service, and others. The sites span Blackerby Ridge in Juneau, and we had excellent weather installing the sites (though the hike down was a different story).
The sites will be revisited on a five year basis to monitor how plant communities are adapting to climate change. We expect that warmer-condition plants will gradually move uphill over time, as has been observed in Europe and the lower 48; perhaps faster as rates of warming are exceptionally high in Alaska. By precisely documenting these effects, we can follow not only biodiversity, but also biogeochemical changes, the interactions between plants, and even the role of local human activity in these changes.
Various pictures from the upper site, a middle site, and camp.