It has been so cold and wet recently that we haven’t been able to do our regular field work. After being stuck in the office for a few weeks, we are really missing the outdoors. While reminiscing, we thought we’d share a few pictures to give you some insight on what it is we really do when we go out in the field. Here is Part 1 of our blog series “A Day in the Life of People Land Water.”
Sampling site at a stream running through a forested watershed/basin.
Every month, we conduct baseflow sampling, where we take water samples from all of our sites (streams, ditches, and tile drains) usually after a 3 day period of no rain, so the streams are only being fed by groundwater.
Anne taking a sample on a colorful Autumn day.
Sometimes acrobatics are necessary to reach the water. Here, Jimmy demonstrates his agility to help us sample a ditch on his land.
Tile drains can be challenging because they often go dry in the summertime.
Whenever possible, we go to the edge of the water and take grab samples which go directly into our sampling bottles. We also record how high the water in the stream is on the staff gauge. Besides seasonal variations, the stream height during baseflow can also be affect by obstructions up- or downstream, such as beaver dams.
Beavers can really affect stream flow and discharge by building dams and causing stream impoundment. This is some evidence of beaver activity we found near the banks of one of our sites.
Some sites are harder to access, so we have to use more creative methods. For streams that are crossed by roads, we use a bucket tied to a rope and lower it into the water off the side of the bridge.
Anne using the bucket to grab samples. There was a lot of leaf litter floating on the stream that day!
Sometimes, we just need to extend our reach a little bit, which led us to the invention of our one of a kind bucket-on-a-stick! Homemade out of all recycled materials, this low cost handy tool has helped us in all types of prickly and deep water situations.
The bucket-on-a-stick was useful to help Michelle avoid all those invasive vines and stickers.
Once we have the samples, there are a few parameters we have to measure right away, so we set up a mini mobile lab on the back of our truck!
Michelle taking field measurements on the tailgate of our truck on a perfect day for field work-both sunny and warm!
Temperature, conductivity (salinity), and pH of the water are measured using field meters. We also prepare a portion of the samples for nitrogen and phosphorus analysis by filtering them into small vials.
If we need to stay on schedule, we might even filter en route to the next site!
It can get pretty crowded in the truck, but the cup holders are perfect for holding sample bottles! Rebecca is skillfully multi-tasking on a busy day.
The rest of the water samples are kept cool in coolers filled with ice, so that we can continue processing back at our real lab! Tune in soon for Part 2 of “Day in the Life of People Land Water” to see what we do back at Horn Point Laboratory.