Anchorage, AK, United States

University of Alaska Anchorage

www.uaa.alaska.edu
Anchorage, AK, United States

The University of Alaska Anchorage is a public research university located in Anchorage, Alaska. UAA also administers four community campuses spread across Southcentral Alaska. These include Kenai Peninsula College, Kodiak College, Matanuska–Susitna College, and Prince William Sound Community College. Between the community campuses and the main Anchorage campus, over 20,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are currently enrolled at UAA. This makes it the largest institution of higher learning in the University of Alaska System, as well as the state.UAA's main campus is located approximately four miles southeast of its downtown area in the University-Medical District, adjacent to the Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Pacific University and Providence Alaska Medical Center. Nestled among an extensive green belt, close to scenic Goose Lake Park, UAA has been recognized each of the past three years as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Much of the campus is connected by a network of paved, outdoor trails, as well as an elevated, indoor "spine" that extends east to west from Rasmuson Hall, continuing through the student union, and terminating inside the Consortium Library.UAA is divided into six teaching units at the Anchorage campus: the Colleges of Education, Health and Social Welfare, Arts and science, Business and Public Policy, the Community and Technical College, and the School of Engineering. UAA offers Master's Degrees and Graduate Certificates in select programs, and the ability to complete certain PhD programs through cooperating universities through its Graduate Division. As of May 2012, the university is accredited to confer doctoral degrees. UAA is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Wikipedia.

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Patent
University of Alaska Anchorage | Date: 2017-01-27

Disclosed are biodegradable insulation materials comprising a structural scaffold; and at least one temperature resilient fungus. Also disclosed are methods of making and using biodegradable insulation materials comprising a structural scaffold; and at least one temperature resilient fungus. For example, disclosed are methods of insulating an infrastructure comprising administering the disclosed biodegradable insulation materials to an infrastructure.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Physiolg Mechansms&Biomechancs | Award Amount: 580.00K | Year: 2016

The vast majority of vertebrate species are unable to survive without access to oxygen. Death quickly ensues from oxygen lack due to the failure of organs, such as the heart, which require a constant supply of oxygen to create the metabolic energy necessary to support their continued function. However, in stark contrast to normal vertebrates, a few vertebrate species have evolved the remarkable ability to survive for prolonged periods in the complete absence of oxygen (termed anoxia). This research focuses on elucidating how the heart of one of the vertebrate champions of anoxia survival, the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta), can continue to beat rhythmically during anoxia, albeit more slowly. Previous research has revealed that the intrinsic rate at which the turtle heart beats is vastly slowed by anoxia exposure. However, the mechanisms that act to suppress the intrinsic heart rate during anoxia remain unknown. In the vertebrate heart, intrinsic heart rate is determined by cells located in a specialized region, termed the cardiac pacemaker. The pacemaker cells initiate cardiac contraction by producing electrical impulses, called pacemaker action potentials, the rate of which sets intrinsic heart rate. This research will utilize a multi-tiered and multidisciplinary approach to investigate the physiological mechanisms by which anoxia and low temperature modulates pacemaker rate. Ultimately, by probing how a vertebrate heart can continue to beat in the absence of oxygen, this research will develop a deeper understanding of the connections between oxygen, metabolism and electrical excitation, which are a crucial aspect of basic cardiac biology. In addition, the intimate intertwining of research activities with training, education and mentoring opportunities in contemporary physiology and cell biology for students at UAA as well as those of the broader Alaskan community will broaden exposure and enhance opportunity in scientific research for individuals that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines.


Remarkably, the heart of one of the vertebrate champions of anoxia survival, the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta) can continue to beat rhythmically during anoxia, albeit more slowly. Previous research has revealed that a dramatic and rapid resetting of the intrinsic pacemaker contributes to the bradycardia displayed by the anoxic turtle. However, the mechanism by which anoxia modulates pacemaker rate remains unknown. The overarching objective of this research is to exploit the turtle heart as a model to elucidate the physiological and cellular mechanisms of cardiac pacemaker regulation. This research will utilize a multi-tiered and multidisciplinary approach to systematically investigate in the organ (contractile properties of isolated heart chambers; in vitro recordings of pacemaker action potentials) and cell (electrophysiological measures of ionic currents in isolated cardiomyocytes) the alterations of the cardiac pacemaker that underlies the resetting of intrinsic heart rate by anoxia. The proposed research will provide important insights into the molecular mechanisms of cardiac pacemaking in conditions of low oxygen and temperature. Both have pertinence to basic cardiac biology as well as human pathology, and the anoxic turtle provides a remarkable model of how these processes persist in conditions of substantial stress.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SYSTEM SCIENCE PROGRAM | Award Amount: 988.61K | Year: 2017

Terrestrial Arctic systems are the result of complex interactions between climate, vegetation, herbivores, and humans that must be studied together to understand their functional
traits. While low temperatures and short-growing seasons limit plant growth, enough plant biomass exists to support herds of migratory caribou, on which Alaska Natives depend. Any changes in the plants at the base of the food web can have cascading consequences for herbivores and human consumers and their interactions. Today, the Arctic system is in the midst of change resulting in new vegetation assemblages, changes in the nutritive value of plant tissues, and ultimately in the diets of migratory caribou and the humans that depend on them. This project examines the nutritional landscape of the Central Arctic Caribou Herd as a unifying concept, describing the nutritional landscape as caribou available protein (CAP) and caribou available energy
(CAE), integrative forage quantity measures that reflect biomass, species composition, plant
C and N content, digestibility, and secondary compounds. The core objectives are gaining understanding of the drivers of spatial and temporal patterns in the amounts of CAP and CAE across the tundra; caribou use of this nutritional landscape; how the amounts of CAP and CAE will differ in the future under likely climate scenarios and long-term experiments, and the interactions between caribou and Native communities.

The broader impacts of this study involve several groups of Alaskan stakeholders, including: harvesters of the North Slope community of Nuiqsut, the worldwide caribou community, and students at multiple stages of education. The project will embed a team member with hunters in Nuiqsut,
and develop an educational scientific documentary on the caribou - Alaska Native interactions for
high school students. The group plans to employ village students and undergraduates affiliated with the Alaska Native Science
and Engineering Program to assist with experimental work and vegetation collection at Toolik Lake. This research is significant to ecologists from the Circumarctic Rangifer Monitoring
and Assessment Network, dedicated
to caribou conservation and sustainable management in the US, Canada, and Scandinavia, who will use the data to consider how a suite of climate change scenarios affect herd fecundity and population dynamics.

The intellectual merit of this project stems from the merging of five elements to understand Arctic
System function and response to climate change: (1) A landscape-scale assessment of plant species, soil and plant C and N, digestibility, and secondary compounds that will be used
to calculate the amounts of CAP (kg m-2) and CAE (kJ m-2); (2) analysis of how closely caribou foraging is tied to the nutritional landscape throughout the year; (3) analysis of samples
from an existing long-term winter - summer climate change experiment to provide data on how
CAP and CAE will differ in the future; (4) prediction of future nutritional landscapes and
caribou foraging interactions; and (5) observations of Alaska Native hunter harvesting and attributes
of the system that determine their spatial and temporal patterns. These project components will enable an integrative understanding of how an important herbivore, caribou, interact with a landscape that is rapidly changing. This research: (1) examines the Arctic System from primary production to secondary consumers and the
influence of climate change across multiple trophic levels; (2) applies broadly by examining
the most abundant large herbivore and its food sources, both of which are distributed throughout
the Arctic; and (3) integrates experimental, observational, and modeling approaches to understanding ecological systems and climate change. The integration of observation, experimental data
and modeling to describe current and forecast future nutritional landscapes is intended to provide a
mechanistic understanding of Arctic System function and transform the understanding
of climate-vegetation-caribou-subsistence hunter interactions.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PLASMA PHYSICS | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2016

The goal of this research is to explore how plasma, a gas made up of electrically charged particles such as electrons and ions, behaves when it is subjected to a particular electrical condition called a multipole field. When a cloud of plasma is placed within a structure of several long, parallel metal rods with rapidly changing voltage applied to them, some of the plasma particles may be trapped at the center of the structure. This effect provides a laboratory test bed for conducting many new basic plasma physics experiments. The experiments will be performed along with computer simulations of the same phenomena to gain combined insight into the underlying physics of the collective interactions of the trapped particles. This project will take place in an environment that is accessible to undergraduate university students. The results and descriptions of the research will also be incorporated into outreach for physics in the greater Anchorage community. In particular, the research will create a centerpiece demonstration of plasma science on-site at the University of Alaska - Anchorage to provide formative encounters for K-12 students, and positive engagement with the community at large.

This research is a computational and experimental study of the behavior of low-temperature, quasi-neutral plasma in a three-dimensional, time-varying electric multipole field. Theoretical work done previously on this topic raised questions that point to the need for such simulations and experiments. Computer simulations will study the effect of the plasma species mass difference on the plasma response, e.g. the multipole fields ability to focus the light species to the center of the multipole structure while the space charge is neutralized by the heavy species. The results of computer modeling will inform an initial experimental design and study of the same effects. A resonant multipole structure will be constructed and installed in an ultra-high vacuum chamber and experimental measurements of the plasma in the multipole will be made for comparison to the computational results. The laboratory setup will serve as a versatile testbed for ongoing studies in basic plasma physics, including: plasma effects on ponderomotive gyroresonance; formation and dependences of the radio frequency plasma sheath with variation of the plasma and external field characteristics; the effect of neutralizing space charge on plasma density; and radiation pressure effects on the plasma boundary.


Patent
University of Alaska Anchorage | Date: 2016-01-04

Methods, systems, and apparatuses for managing sensor information are disclosed. An example apparatus can comprise a power unit configured to collect energy, a sensor unit configured to receive sensor data from a sensor, a memory unit configured to store the sensor data, a communication unit configured to wirelessly broadcast the sensor data to one or more sensor nodes in a network of sensor nodes, and a processing unit. The processing unit can be configured to operate at least one of the sensor unit, the memory unit, and the communication unit after the energy collected in the power unit reaches a threshold value.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: AON IMPLEMENTATION | Award Amount: 375.40K | Year: 2016

Arctic ecosystems are changing in response to arctic warming, which is proceeding more than twice as fast as the global average. The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) was established in the early 1990s to understand the effects of warming and environmental variability on tundra vegetation properties and ecosystem function. The ITEX program has been extremely valuable for detection of changes in tundra plant and ecosystem responses to experimental warming and to background climate change across sites that span the major ecosystems of the Arctic. In 2007, the Alaskan and Greenland ITEX sites were combined into an Arctic Observatory Network (AON). The current ITEX AON project will continue to document and understand Arctic terrestrial vegetation change and its ecosystem consequences by maintaining the long-term datasets of the ITEX-AON. The warming experiment of ITEX-AON allows us to assign the cause for observed changes in response to warming instead of relying on simple correlations. This project provides urgently needed data on changes in vegetation and the importance of these changes for ecosystem services from a variety of Arctic ecosystems. This project will provide training for postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students in the emerging fields of remote sensing, cybertechnology and big-data analysis. The project will include outreach activities through strong relationships with the CLEO Institute in Miami; the Grand Valley State University Regional Math and Science Center; and K-12 school systems in Miami, Anchorage, Grand Rapids and El Paso. All data from this project are and will be freely available at the NSF Arctic Data Center.

The core datasets of the proposed research include manual observations of phenology, vegetation structure and composition, and ecosystem function (carbon flux and nutrient cycling) on long-term ITEX control and experimental warming plots, repeat measurement of vegetation plots on the long-term 1 km2 vegetation grids, and a multifactor warming/moisture experiment in Greenland. In 2009, the sampling scheme was expanded to include a larger spatial component to amplify the value of the measurements collected. This expansion included the addition of phenocams, automated mobile sensor platforms, and medium-scale aerial imagery. The automated platforms measure a suite of vegetation surface properties with minimal effort across focal transects spanning strong moisture and microtopographic gradients at a near-daily frequency. These measurements capture the fine-scale changes in vegetation over the growing season that are missed by lower frequency manual measurements and provide a bridge between manual measurements and aerial imagery. Medium-scale aerial imagery, using Kite Aerial or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, is acquired throughout the growing season for scaling of manual and automated measurements; satellite imagery is referenced to medium-scale aerial imagery to aid scaling of responses to the regional level. In the newest phase of AON ITEX, we are particularly focused on understanding the relationship between landscape subsidence as a result of permafrost thaw and vegetation structure and function because of the potential for significant positive feedbacks to climate change.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SEES Hazards | Award Amount: 95.16K | Year: 2016

Humans have a long history of controlling or hunting predators which has resulted in many of these animal populations being classified as threatened, endangered or extinct. Recent reintroduction of some species allows for an examination of their role in the ecosystem, potential for conflict with humans, and possible strategies for future coexistence of humans and predators. This project will use sea otters in Southeast Alaska as a model system, combining ecology, economics, and Alaskan Native traditional knowledge to learn more about the role of marine predators in coastal sustainability. Between the mid-1700s and 1900, sea otters were hunted to extinction in Southeast Alaska for their highly valuable fur. In the 1960s, these animals were reintroduced in the region, and their population has grown from roughly 400 to more than 25,000 individuals. The recovery of sea otters in Southeast Alaska provides an opportunity to understand their ecological role in coastal ecosystems, while simultaneously evaluating their interactions with people who depend on coastal resources for their livelihood. Because otters eat shellfish, fishermen and people who harvest shellfish have growing concerns that the increase in sea otters is affecting their livelihood and food resources. At the same time, hunting pressure on sea otters has intensified from coastal Alaskan Natives who can legally harvest sea otters for their fur. The project will involve collaboration with Alaska Native communities and elders. In addition, it will support a team of scientists that includes undergraduate researchers, graduate students, two postdoctoral scholars, and two junior faculty members. One of the graduate students is from a group underrepresented in science, and the investigators plan to build on their track record of recruiting and retaining students from programs for Alaskan Natives.

The objective of this project is to document the role of apex predators and environmental drivers on changes in nearshore marine resources, ecosystems, and humans using an interdisciplinary approach that integrates ecological studies, traditional knowledge interviews, and ecosystem services quantification and valuation. This research examines changes in the marine environment over a period of time in which sea otters were extinct and then recolonized. The absence and then expansion of sea otters into different areas over time allows for a space-for-time substitution in which the longer-term effects of sea otters can be seen in areas occupied longer. Analyses of historical data provide an opportunity to describe changes in kelp distribution and abundance and subsistence harvests over the last 30-100 years. Quantification and valuation of ecosystem services from sea otters, including seagrass, kelp, and fish, will provide information on the potential benefits of sea otter recolonization. The integration of ecological, anthropological and economic approaches will lead to a better understanding of the reciprocal feedbacks between humans, apex predators and environmental drivers. Collaborations with Alaska Native communities throughout the project include consultation with community members and tribal elders about project goals and results, with the ultimate goal of informing resource management to improve the sustainability of rural coastal communities and nearshore ecosystems.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 490.74K | Year: 2016

Alaska Native communities have a strong sense of respect for their older residents. In many Alaskan rural communities, whose primary population is Alaska Native people, the elderly are still relied upon for their deep knowledge and understanding of the natural environment, heritage languages, and cultural practices which are important not only for economic survival but social cohesion and community wellbeing. However, change is deeply affecting Alaska Native communities and Alaska Native people are forced to adapt to the new environmental, economic and social realities that affect their worlds. This research project will explore how Alaska Native elderly are adapting to rapid economic, environmental, and social change by exploring Alaska Native elderly and their own understanding and definition of what successful aging means to them.

The current research project will establish a better understanding of successful aging from the perspectives of Alaska Native elderly in Northwest Alaska. Being the Principal Investigators second research project on this topic, this project has the potential to inform future studies of indigenous successful aging, studies that allow the elderly themselves to subjectively define for themselves what it means to age well. In the spirit of community-based participatory research, several communities in Northwest Alaska reached out to the principal investigator, Dr. Jordan P. Lewis (Aleut, Native Village of Naknek), to request that similar research be conducted in their region. They did so after learning of his Successful Aging Study, which was carried out in Bristol Bay Alaska from 2011-2014 and brought awareness of the value of positive, or generative, focused research with the elderly, highlighting their lessons and knowledge for healthy aging.

This research study will consist of 60 qualitative in-depth interviews with Alaska Native elderly to establish an indigenous understanding of what successful aging means for Alaska Natives in Northwest Alaska and what is required to age in place. Interviews will be conducted with Alaska Native elderly and their family members in their own homes in five participating communities, as well as those who have relocated to the Quyanna Care facility in Nome, Alaska. Through these interviews the research team will to explore the concept of successful aging and hope to gain a sense of Alaska Native beliefs about aging, what is required to age in place? and how relocation to facilities for the elderly impacts views of successful aging? In the spirit of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), participants will be engaged through the entire research process, from conception to data analysis. Meetings will be held in participating communities to review the findings and receive feedback; this will ensure the findings reflect the unique perspectives of the Elders, families, communities, and region. These findings will also be compared with the previous study on successful aging conducted in Bristol Bay to compare and contrast experiences of aging in these two rural regions of Alaska. This study will also explore what is required to age in place to reduce or eliminate the need for the elderly to relocate - taking with them the language, culture, and history of the community. Previous research by the PI has shown that enabling older Alaskan Native people to remain in their homes and communities contributes to the health and wellbeing of the communities. The research will shed additional light on what it means to age well in rural Alaska and determine what role their community plays in how Alaska Native people subjectively define their aging process.

The significance of this proposed research advances discovery through the establishment of a locally and culturally informed, Alaska Native, understanding of successful aging that builds on the PIs previous projects. In addition to contributing to the academic literature on successful aging, it promotes teaching and learning from the Elders on healthy aging in rural Alaska. It also educates researchers on the importance of CBPR and allowing the elderly to subjectively define their aging process, as well as engaging the local community throughout the entire research process, which promotes the coproduction of knowledge and bi-directional learning. This research project broadens the participation of underrepresented groups (Alaska Natives) and puts them on equal footing with the scientists in interpreting results and in presenting the results. This research also has the potential to contribute to the disciplines of anthropology, gerontology, community psychology, sociology, and others by paving the way for future researchers interested in indigenous aging.

The research findings can influence health and social policy in Alaska and how healthcare and long-term support services are delivered to older residents in rural communities. The results of this research will be published and be disseminated for other researchers, gerontologists, anthropologists, and students to use with the permission of the tribal governing authorities, the Alaska Native participants and their communities. This study will also highlight that aging does not have to equal poor health and immobility; aging well should be a right that can be attained by everyone. This research has the potential to inform health professionals, policy advocates, local and state officials about the factors that determine whether or not rural Alaska communities are able to meet the needs of their elderly and enable them to live their remaining years as they may wish.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 892.24K | Year: 2015

The position of the Arctic treeline is an important regulator of climate and subsistence resources. Recent research by the principal investigators (PIs) suggests the importance of winter snow depth as a control on tree growth. They now propose to experimentally isolate the importance of snow depth and soil nutrient availability for tree growth. This novel and interdisciplinary proposal will link the ecology of microbes to large-scale landscape patterns. If their hypotheses are confirmed, the findings will contradict the prevailing theory of the cause of treeline location.

This project will contribute to the development of the science workforce by supporting the training of three graduate students and the entrainment of numerous undergraduate students into the research activities. Outreach to the predominantly Alaskan Native community of Kotzebue will take different forms. The PIs will arrange with the local radio station, a primary means of media communication for the local region, to describe their research. They will visit the local high school to discuss the role of vegetation in climate and to share the results of their research. They will provide opportunities for outstanding students from the local high school to participate in their field research program. They will participate in the Bureau of Land Management?s Campbell Creek Science Center Fireside Chat series to promote outreach to the more urban community in and around Anchorage, AK. They will enhance the existing Interactive Model of Leaf Decomposition (IMOLD), a series of animated lessons and activities about decomposition and nutrient cycling developed under a previous award, to include examples and teaching activities derived from this work at the Arctic treeline.

It has long been thought that temperature exerts a direct control on growth of treeline trees and the position of the treeline. However, the PIs? recent work in the Arctic with white spruce suggests that indirect effects of temperature on soil nutrient availability may be of equal or greater importance. They hypothesize that cold soils at the treeline, particularly during winter, limit microbial activity and nutrient availability to the point where trees are barely able to survive and grow. Measurements made during winter have revealed that Arctic forests maintain snowpacks that are much deeper than observed at treeline. Trees are thought to trap snow and lead to a deeper snowpack, insulating the soil from cold air and allowing for greater overwinter microbial activity and greater nutrient mineralization. Indeed, the PIs found a strong positive correlation between white spruce growth and winter snow depth. They propose to isolate the mechanisms underlying this correlation by using snowfences to manipulate winter snow depth and fertilizer to increase soil nutrient availability at three treelines that differ in soil moisture. To provide an experimental test of the importance of temperature as a direct control on treeline tree growth, they propose to incorporate experimental shoot warming into their snowfence experiment in a factorial design. They predict that both experimental snow and nutrient additions will lead to large increases in microbial activity, photosynthesis, tree growth, seed quality, seed production, seedling establishment and recruitment of new trees. They expect to observe the greatest positive responses where soils are wet and cold. Meanwhile, they predict that shoot warming will lead to negligible changes in growth.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 155.00K | Year: 2016

Since the Pleistocene, slow organic matter decomposition has led to the accumulation of vast amounts of organic carbon in permafrost. However, while ongoing climate warming and permafrost thaw are expected to increase plant productivity (CO2 uptake), continued warming is also expected to weaken prior constraints on decomposition (CO2 emissions). The net effect of these changes on the Arctic?s carbon budget and the global climate system are poorly understood, as most observations have been made during the short growing season, when root and rhizosphere respiration dominate CO2 emissions. This project will focus on the development of a new technology for the continuous collection of CO2 emitted from arctic tundra soils. This passive diffusive sieve (zeolite) trap for measuring soil respired CO2 will be rugged, small, lightweight, low-cost, and require little in the way of power (batteries) low power. It has the potential to transform our understanding of carbon cycling in the Arctic, as it allows for the year-round CO2 collection, including during the winter and shoulder seasons when sites are often inaccessible, and over multiple weeks (3 weeks/sample), thus integrating both diffusive and episodic emissions. Outreach activities will strengthen the existing NSF-supported K-12 training programs at UC Irvine that are aimed to increase the participation of underprivileged populations in the STEM fields. THE Investigators will engage middle school students with lab tours and activities during a ?Day at College?-experience and class room visits. The project will also train a graduate student, and contribute to educating researchers (via an international summer course) in the use of 14C analysis in Ecology and Earth System Science.

The investigators will develop and deploy a novel system to continuously trap CO2 emitted from arctic tundra soils over several weeks for radiocarbon (14C) analysis. However, typical canister-based systems for measuring soil respired CO2, can be relatively large, expensive to ship, and require line power. This project will develop and deploy a novel system to continuously trap CO2 emitted from Arctic tundra soils over several weeks for radiocarbon (14C) analysis. This continuous collection system has the potential to transform carbon cycle research. Such devices would obviate the need for shipping large canisters to the Arctic as well and the need for line power. Moreover, such devices are relatively inexpensive and lightweight, and therefore, permit for high spatial resolution monitoring. These new traps, however, have never been tested in the Arctic, where the environmental conditions can be harsh, especially in winter. Thus the focus of this work is to develop, harden, and test such devices through a number of winter seasons at the Toolik Lake Long Term Ecological Station, on the north slope of Alaska. If successful, this device will provide the first year-round, quasi-continuous dataset on soil-respired 14CO2 in moist acidic tussock tundra, which is the dominant tundra type of arctic Alaska and globally accounts for over 20% of the tundra land surface. Moreover, this research will point the way for other experimental groups working in similar harsh environments throughout the Arctic.

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