- What were your goals for the course in Svalbard? To what extent did you realize these goals? Please give specific examples if possible.
My goals for this course in Svalbard were as following: a) obtaining an overview of trait studies by summarizing all the assigned reading papers and the lectures during the course; b) obtaining the skills of designing and operating experiments in the field; c) getting to know more young scientists in my field and sharing academic experience.
After two-week intense study in Svalbard, I think I have realize these goals. All the lectures gave us the whole background of this trait training course, ecological conditions of Svalbard, and basic knowledge in trait driven theory. Both outdoor and indoor activities taught us how to design the efficient workflow of experiment, choose proper and enough samplings, and measure traits we are interested in and thus solve our scientific questions. For example, we measured several leaf traits (e.g. leaf area, thickness, wet mass, dries mass and N/P). Because of different requirements for trait measurements (e.g. leaves should be wet or not, would be destroyed or not), we need to order the measurements to make sure the accuracy. I really like the trait wheel part.
Most importantly, our team has joint many brilliant and energetic young scientists. Student introductions during the course are of much benefit, and working with other students also inspired me a lot, especially their passion about plants.
- What did you learn about yourself during this course?
At the first of several days during this course, I felt frustrated that I know little about plant taxonomy when we did surveys on community composition. Students in our group know lots of species in the plots and can write down their scientific names quickly, while I felt difficult to tell the difference of herbs, and cannot even pronounce the Latin names. I tried to memorize those names but failed. I learnt to accept that I cannot be master of everything, and we should have something we are good at while something we cannot. Then I tried to do something I can, such as digging individual plants, writing labels, keeping samplings wet and so on. Then I transferred to indoor measurements, I felt myself again. I always felt that indoor works are boring, but here I found lots of fun when facing the tiny but special leaves, and it’s much more interesting when trying to increase efficiency and accuracy in doing repeatable works.
Besides, during the lectures, I felt passions about exploring nature and science, and realized my shortness. There are lots of unknown fields that I need put more efforts on.
iii. What did you learn about public perceptions of climate change in Svalbard? Do most people accept that the planet is warming, and that this is largely being caused by human activities? Or was this topic controversial? How does this compare to public perceptions of climate change in your home country?
I can feel that people in Svalbard notice the climate change and know what contributes to it. Although they may not feel the effects of climate change to their lives, they know how to work on it. Some people accept that the planet is warming, and the warming is largely being caused by human activities. However some people disagree and thinks this is a natural process of our planet. So I think this topic is controversial. In my opinion, this perception is a little different to my home country but almost similar.
What was your experience with surveying people in Svalbard? Do you feel that you collected valuable information? What went well? What would you do differently next time? If possible, tell us about a specific interaction that you found interesting.
When surveying people in Svalbard, I could feel their kindness and their caring about our planet. I felt that we collected valuable information, and the results are beyond our imagination. For example, most people agree that deceasing flight trips and plastic packages would help to control global warming. In Svalbard, most people are traveling here rather than resident here. Next time, we should try to find more local people and talk with them a bit more. It would be of much help if I can communicate with them fluently and frequently without language obstacles. I think this is an interesting interaction that even people say they know little about academic things of climate change, they are willing to talk with us and fill the surveys, which shows common public concerns on climate change.