I had a first chance to spend one month in the beautiful village of Abisko, Sweden, to collect data for my master thesis in the summer of 2012. I studied alien plant invasions along roadsides from the fjords to the mountains in northern Norway. After that, it went fast.
I returned one year later to initiate the two-year experiment that also gets mirrored in the far south, in Chile. In the meantime, I finished my first paper on my thesis data, while my plants tried to survive winter.
I now go back twice a year to start new experiments and finish others. In 2014, we went back to check this winter survival. We also prepared for a new experiment that brought us higher in the mountains than ever before, an amazing trip that resulted in new exciting adventures. We also paid a return visit to the Norwegian research sites from two years ago to install temperature sensors in the soil.
A visit in the autumn of 2014 resulted in the end of the first field experiment, while returning visits in spring and autumn 2015 served to set up experiment number 3, and finish number 2. By doing so, I have a steadily growing dataset on plant invasions and microclimate in the mountains, and every year an unforgettable visit to Abisko.
A series of posts on the first spring visit of 2015 gives a good idea of the adventures during such a trip (we experienced bad weather, angry skua’s, rolling clouds, Norway, bad luck with flooded rivers, good luck as well and crazy good weather). This series got published both on my blog and on the EOS-blog (Scilogs.be).
Next to a fantastic location to perform research, Northern Scandinavia is also extremely beautiful. It has lakes (!), valleys, mountains, nice architecture and plenty of tiny but beautiful plants (like the cute and tasty cloudberry for example). Weather in the mountains can be extremely unpredictable, but nonetheless the views can be amazing with every weather type: the sun breaking through a misty cloud (or not) or rainbows down in the valleys.
For those visiting in autumn or winter (what I rarely do, as my plants will be covered by snow), there is the spectacular mystifying view of the Aurora, the crown on the arctic.
For a meeting of the MIREN network, I had the chance to visit Flen, a little village in southern Sweden, a place much softer than the Lapland I am used to. It was June, and the Swedish countryside showed itself from its best side.
We were hosted in an old mansion that outshone every place I have ever lived in.