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Pre-ABoVE: Arctic Vegetation Plots, Oumalik, Alaska, 1983-1985

Documentation Revision Date: 2017-06-21

Data Set Version: 1

Summary

This data set provides environmental, soil, and vegetation data collected between 1983 and 1985 from 87 study plots near an abandoned test oil well in Oumalik, Alaska. Specific attributes include dominant vegetation, species, and cover, soil chemistry, physical characteristics, moisture, and organic matter, as well as site disturbance from various sources. The vegetation sampling sites were chosen to represent the full range of vegetation in the area with replication, and for uniformity in floristic composition and environmental conditions.

The well construction activities caused a great deal of damage to the tundra, and many barrels and other debris were left after the well was abandoned. Eighty-four recovery plots were established in July of 1979 by removing debris and three additional plots were established after the cleanup.

There are three data files in comma-separated (.csv) format with this data set.

Figure 1. Photo from the Oumalik study area showing vegetation and some of the barrels left from the oil well test site when it was abandoned in 1950 (from Ebersole, 1985).

Citation

Ebersole, J.J., and D.A. Walker. 2017. Pre-ABoVE: Arctic Vegetation Plots, Oumalik, Alaska, 1983-1985. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1506

Table of Contents

  1. Data Set Overview
  2. Data Characteristics
  3. Application and Derivation
  4. Quality Assessment
  5. Data Acquisition, Materials, and Methods
  6. Data Access
  7. References

Data Set Overview

This study addressed the environment, ecosystems, and disturbances to the vegetation around a test oil well at Oumalik, Alaska, erected during 1949-1950 and abandoned in 1950. The data includes environmental, soil, and vegetation data collected between 1983 and 1985 from 87 study plots near the abandoned oil well. Specific attributes include dominant vegetation, species, and cover, soil chemistry, physical characteristics, moisture, and organic matter, as well as site disturbance from various sources.

Eighty-four recovery plots were established in July of 1979 by removing debris leftover from the test well's abandonment in 1950. Three additional plots were established after the cleanup. A classification of the vegetation was done to provide communities for comparison to the natural vegetation, including disturbances, and an ordination of the disturbed vegetation showed the environmental factors that correlated most highly with the variation in vegetation (Ebersole, 1985).

Project: Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE)

The Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) is a NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program field campaign based in Alaska and western Canada between 2016 and 2021. Climate change in the Arctic and Boreal region is unfolding faster than anywhere else on Earth. ABoVE seeks a better understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems and society to this changing environment.

Acknowledgements:

These data were obtained from the Alaska Arctic Geoecological Atlas (http://agc.portal.gina.alaska.edu), which provides access to existing Arctic vegetation plot and map data in support of the ABoVE campaign.

Data Characteristics

Spatial Coverage: Oumalik, Alaska

           ABoVE Grid Location: Ahh1Avv0

Spatial Resolution: Point resolution

Temporal Coverage: 1983-06-21 to 1985-08-05

Temporal Resolution: Each plot was sampled once

Study Area (All latitude and longitude given in decimal degrees)

Site Westernmost Longitude Easternmost Longitude Northernmost Latitude Southernmost Latitude
Oumalik, Alaska -156.02 -155.899 69.86229 69.83724

 

Data File Information

There are three data files with this data set in comma-separated (.csv) format. The files provide the vegetation species found at 87 plots as well as the percent ground cover occupied by the species, soil characterization, plot environmental data, and estimated disturbance by various sources. These data may also be found in the TURBOVEG database. There are also three companion files which provide plot photos and research information.

Table 1. Data files

Data File Name Description
oumalik_environmental_data.csv Environmental characterization data for Oumalik research plots
oumalik_soils_data.csv Soil analysis data
oumalik_species_data.csv The estimated percent land cover by species per plot
Companion files Description
Oumalik_Plot_Photos.pdf Photos of the plots at Oumalik in .pdf format
Oumalik_Veg_Plots_Report.pdf Report which provides details of the research (Ebersole, 1985)
Ordinal_Scales_Oumalik_Env_data.pdf A pdf with ordinal scale tables from the Ebersole 1985 document. The ordinal scales are used in the data file oumalik_environmental_data.csv
Oumalik_Veg_Plots.pdf A pdf of this guide document

 

Table 2. Variables in the file oumalik_environmental_data.csv

Refer to the companion file Ordinal_Scales_Oumalik_Env_data.pdf for the ordinal scale descriptions and associated codes. Data not provided are represented as -9999.

Column number Variable Units/format Description
1 plot_number numeric Plot number as provided by the author
2 date yyyymmdd Date plot was investigated
3 latitude decimal degrees Plot latitude
4 longitude decimal degrees Plot longitude
5 community code Plant community
6 plant_community_name text Plant community name
7 microrelief_type code Microrelief type:

1=featureless, flat
2=tussocks
3=reticulate-patterned ground
4=low-centered polygon center
5= low-centered polygon rim
6= low-centered polygon trough
7=high-centered polygon center
8= high-centered polygon trough
9=palsa
10=irregular
11=mounds of bladed material
12=ruts of multi-pass trail
13=thermokarst
14=irregularly rough, caused by moderate surface disturbance leaving surface changed but not removed
15=bladed and smothed
16=area bladed below original surface
17=graveled area
8 microrelief_ht cm Microrelief height
9 releve_area m2 Releve area
10 releve_shape text Releve shape
11 cover_tree_layer % Percent of trees in the plant community
12 cover_shrub_layer % Percent of shrubs in the plant community
13 cover_tall_shrubs % Percent of tall shrubs in the plant community
14 cover_low_shrubs % Percent of low shrubs in the plant community
15 cover_erect_dwarf_shrubs % Percent of erect dwarf shrubs in the plant community
16 cover_prostrate_dwarf_shrubs % Percent of prostrate dwarf shrubs in the plant community
17 cover_graminoids % Percent of graminoids in the plant community
18 cover_tussock_graminoids % Percent of tussock graminoids in the plant community
19 cover_forbs % Percent of forbs in the plant community
20 cover_seedless_vascular_plants % Percent of seedless vascular plants in the plant community
21 cover_mosses_liverworts % Percent of mosses and liverworts in the plant community
22 cover_lichen_layer % Percent of plot that was lichen
23 cover_crust % Percent of plot that was crust
24 cover_algae_layer % Percent of plot that was algae
25 cover_bare_soil % Percent of plot that was bare soil
26 cover_bare_rock % Percent of plot that was bare rock
27 cover_water % Percent of plot that was open water
28 cover_litter_layer % Percent of plot that was litter
29 cover_total % Percent of plot that had cover
30 canopy_ht cm Mean canopy height
31 tree_layer_ht m Mean tree height
32 shrub_layer_ht cm Mean shrub height
33 herb_layer_ht cm Mean herb height
34 moss_layer_ht cm Mean moss height
35 aspect degrees Aspect
36 slope degrees Plot slope
37 thaw_depth cm Thaw depth
38 water_depth cm Water depth
39 site_moisture ordinal scale Site moisture observations noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
40 summer_air_temp ordinal scale Site air temperature observations noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
41 duration_snow ordinal scale Snow cover and duration recorded using an ordinal scale of 1-10
42 wind_regime ordinal scale Wind conditions noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
43 age_surface ordinal scale Age of surface and time since the surface was disturbed noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
44 surface_stability ordinal scale Surface stability with regard to avalanches, surface movements due to floods, etc. noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
45 cryoturbation ordinal scale Cryoturbation (0-100%) noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
46 disturbance_type code Disturbance of site: 1=undisturbed, 2=naturally disturbed, and 3=anthropogenically disturbed
47 disturbance_intensity ordinal scale Physical disturbance intensity of the site surface by animals, people, or equipment, noted using an ordinal scale of 1-7
48 disturbance_score ordinal scale Disturbance score at site noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
49 disturbance_caribou ordinal scale Site disturbance by Caribou noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
50 disturbance_microtine ordinal scale Signs of site disturbance by microtine noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
51 disturbance_squirrel ordinal scale Signs of site disturbance (ground disturbance) by squirrels  noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
52 disturbance_ptarmigan ordinal scale Signs of site disturbance by ptarmigan noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
53 disturbance_birds ordinal scale Signs of site disturbance by birds noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
54 disturbance_insects ordinal scale Signs of site disturbance by insects noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
55 disturbance_other_animals ordinal scale Signs of site disturbance from other animals noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
56 disturbance_total_animals ordinal scale Site disturbance from all animal categories, noted using an ordinal scale of 1-10
57 comments text Comments

 

Table 3. Variables in the file oumalik_soil_data.csv

Soil samples were collected at 10-cm depth. Data not provided are represented as -9999.

Column number Variable Units/format Description
1 plot_number   Plot number as provided by the author
2 date yyyymmdd Date sampled
3 latitude decimal degrees Plot latitude
4 longitude decimal degrees Plot longitude
5 community code Plant community
6 plant_community_name text Plant community name
7 sand % Percentage of sand in the soil
8 silt % Percentage of silt in the soil
9 clay % Percentage of clay in the soil
10 soil_moisture ordinal scale Estimated soil moisture
11 hygroscopic_moisture % Hygroscopic moisture in soil provided as a percent. The weight loss of soil from air to dry weight (105 degrees C) relative to oven dry weight
12 organic_matter % Organic matter in soil provided as percent
13 water_absorption % Water absorption provided as percent. Defined as the weight of water absorbed upward into soil relative to oven dry weight
14 field_capacity % Field capacity provided as percent. Defined as the weight of water retained by soil in pressure membrane apparatus with pressure differential of 1/3 bar, relative to oven dry weight
15 wilting_point % Wilting point provided as percent. Determined using a pressure membrane apparatus, 15 bars
16 available_water % Available water in soil provided as percent. Defined as the difference between field capacity and the wilting point
17 carbonates % Carbonates in soil provided as percent
18 pH   Soil PH
19 NH4 PPM Total available soil ammonium content provided in parts per million (PPM) 
20 NO3 PPM Total available soil nitrate content provided in parts per million (PPM) 
21 N PPM Total available soil nitrogen content  provided in parts per million (PPM), defined as the sum of N-NO3 and N-NH4 
22 P PPM Total available soil phosphorus content provided in parts per million (PPM) 
23 K PPM Total available soil potassium content provided in parts per million (PPM) 
24 Ca PPM Total available soil calcium provided in parts per million (PPM) 
25 Mg PPM Total available soil magnesium provided in parts per million (PPM) 
26 cation_ex_capacity MEQ/100 G Cation exchange capacity

 

Table 4. Variables in the file oumalik_species_data.csv

Column number Column header Description
1 PASL_taxon_scientific_name Current nomenclature according to the Panarctic Species List (PASL)
2 PASL_taxon_scientific_name_author Current nomenclature according to the Panarctic Species List (PASL) with the data authors name
3 dataset_taxon Data set taxonomy
4-90 TURBOVEG_plot_accession_number and dataset_plot_number_author Two rows of 87 column headers which are plot numbers/accession numbers. The first row is TURBOVEG accession numbers. Column headers= 10545-10631. The 2nd row is dataset_plot_number_author, the plot numbers as named in the original data set; column headers= numbers 24 – 269 (nonsequential #s).  The data values are the estimated percent land cover by species per plot according to the the Ordinal cover-abundance scale 1-9 (modified from Westhoff and Maarel 1978) where:

0= (none present)
1 (covers less than 1%)
2 (covers 1 %)
3 (covers 2 to 3%)
4 (covers 4-5%)
5 (covers 6 to 12%)
6 (covers 13 to 24%)
7 (covers 25 to 49%)
8 (covers 50 to 74%)
9 (covers 75 to 100%)

Taxa are listed in alphabetical order according to the accepted PASL name. In three instances, taxa were lumped into a single taxon in the PASL:

1) Campylium hispidulum (Campylium hispidulum and Campylium sommerfeltii)

2) Dicranum spadiceum (Dicranum angustum and Dicranum spadiceum)

3) Peltigera canina (Peltigera canina and Peltigera canina f. sorediata).

Refer also to the companion file Oumalik_Veg_Plots_Report.pdf (Ebersole, 1985), Appendix: Tables B1 and B3.

 

Table 5. Example data from the file oumalik_species_data.csv

    TURBOVEG_plot_accession_number 10545 10546 10547 10548
    dataset_plot_number_author 24 44 70 71
PASL_taxon_scientific_name PASL_taxon_scientific_name_author dataset_taxon
Alectoria ochroleuca Alectoria ochroleuca (Hoffm.) Massal. Alectoria ochroleuca 0 0 0 0
Amblystegium serpens Amblystegium serpens (Hedw.) B. S. G. Amblystegium serpens 0 0 0 0
Andromeda polifolia Andromeda polifolia L. Andromeda polifolia 0 0 0 0

 

 

Application and Derivation

These data are useful to policies regarding energy development in the northern Alaska region and the resulting environmental impacts. They could also be useful to climate change studies.

Quality Assessment

Refer to the companion file Oumalik_Veg_Plots_Report.pdf

Data Acquisition, Materials, and Methods

Site Description

This study was conducted to address the environment, ecosystems, and disturbances to the vegetation around a test oil well at Oumalik, Alaska, erected during 1949 and abandoned in 1950. The well construction activities caused a great deal of damage to the tundra from construction of an airport, heavy vehicles, equipment hauling, bulldozing, and operations. Many barrels and other debris were left after the well was abandoned.

Oumalik is in the continuous zone of permafrost with frost boils and frost scars. Vegetation cover on the frost scars ranges from none to nearly complete. Soils are generally poorly developed with little variation. Vegetation classification defined 23 natural and 13 disturbed vegetation communities (Ebersole,1985). Permafrost on the Arctic Coastal Plain frequently has a lot of ground ice. Ice lenses are horizontal layers of ice 1 mm to tens of meters thick and several mm to hundreds of mm in extent, and ice wedges are important component of the ground ice at Oumalik (Ebersole, 1985).

ice lenses

Figure 2. Ice lenses at the Oumalik study site. The ice lenses are several cm long (Ebersole, 1985).

Ice wedge

Figure 3. Ice wedge at the Oumalik study site. The ice wedge is about 80 cm wide  (Ebersole, 1985).

Methods

Vegetation Data

Eighty-four recovery plots were established in July of 1979 by removing debris from the places where they had been since 1950. Three larger plots were established in late July 1980, after the cleanup. Of the 87 plots, 54 were located in natural habitats and 33 in anthropogenically disturbed habitats. A classification of the vegetation was done to provide communities for comparison to the natural vegetation, including disturbances, and an ordination of the disturbed vegetation showed the environmental factors that correlated most highly with the variation in vegetation (Ebersole, 1985)..

The vegetation within about three km of the test well was sampled using the releve method (Westoff and Maarel 1978, Mueller-Dombois and Ellenberg 1974). Sample sites were chosen to represent the full range of vegetation in the area with replication. Sites were chosen for uniformity in floristic composition and environmental conditions. Plot sizes were about 25 m2. Plot locations were marked with a stake and on aerial photographs.

At each plot, plants that were identifiable were listed, and those uncertain were (mosses and lichens ) were collected for identification in a laboratory or verified by experts. Estimated ground cover data (percent) are provided in the environmental data file. Species data are provided in the species data file (refer to Section 2, Table 2 of this document).

Figure 4. Vegetation plot photo at Oumalik, Alaska

Figure 4. Figure 4. Vegetation plot photo at Oumalik, Alaska (Ebersole, 1985). 

Site Environmental Data

At each site, environmental factors and disturbances at each plot (refer to Section 2, Table 2 of this document) were measured or estimated:

  • Percent ground cover was noted using a slight modification of the method of Westhoff and Maarel (1978) as the ground cover was taken in percent rather than the Braun-Blanquet cover-abundance values. The Braun-Blanquet table method was used to determine the vegetation communities (Ebersole, 1985).
  • Ordinal scales were used to note temperature, site moisture, wind, surface stability, and disturbances. These scales were taken from Walker et al., (1979), modified from Komarkova (1979).
  • Aerial photographs and Google Earth were used to obtain latitude and longitude data in 2014.

Soil samples were collected at 10-cm depth for physical and chemical analysis performed at the INSTAAR Sedimentology Laboratory and the University of Alaska, respectively. Soil analysis data are provided in a separate data file (refer to Section 2, Table 2 of this document).

Refer to the companion file Oumalik_Veg_Plots_Report.pdf for detailed information regarding this study.

Data Access

These data are available through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC).

Pre-ABoVE: Arctic Vegetation Plots, Oumalik, Alaska, 1983-1985

Contact for Data Center Access Information:

References

Ebersole, J.J. 1985. Vegetation Disturbance and Recovery at the Oumalik Oil Well, Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska. PhD thesis, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Komarkova, V. 1979. Alpine Vegetation of the Indian Peaks area, Front Range, Colorado Rocky Mountains. Vegetatio 42:149-163.

Mueller-Dombois, D. and H. Ellenberg. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. Wiley, New York. 547 p.

Walker, D.A., P.J. Weber, and V. Komarkova. 1979. A large-scale (1:6000) Vegetation Mapping Method for North Alaska. Plant Ecology Laboratory, Institute of Arctic and Alpine research, University of Colorado, Boulder. 48 p.

Westhoff, V., and E. van der Maarel. 1978. The Braun-Blanquet approach. Pages 287-399 in R. H. Whittaker, editor. Classification of plant communities. Dr. W. Junk, Den Haag.