The first lake that we cored during our field campaign this summer was Krumschnabelsee (1989 m.a.s.l), located just outside Obertauren in the Obertauren ski resort. As with most of the lakes we have been sampling, this one is a so called “drive-in” lake; meaning that you can park close enough to the lake so that it is possible to carry all the equipment from the van to the lake shore.

The reason why it was important for the lake to be close to the road was that we had about 400 kg of equipment that had to be carried to the lake shore, such as three zodiacs, core-head, monkey (what is used to hammer the core in to the sediment), and a tripod. Even short distances to the lake could be rather time consuming and heavy work, so as a bonus we all came back home with improved stamina.

Krumschnabelsee is located in the Obertauren ski resort. The area is used as pasture for cattle in the summer time. Photo: Kristin Heggland.
Cow on the horizon. One of many cows that gave us company while we were coring at Krumschnabelsee. Photo: Peter Heintzman.

One of the great things about ECOGEN is that it is a large, international, and interdisciplinary project with more that 20 senior scientists both in Norway and scattered around the Alps, and we were fortunate enough too meet up with some of them along the way.

At this lake, Krumschnabelsee, Andreas Tribsch (University of Salzburg, Austria) joined us together with the students of a summer course he was teaching. The students were of great help carrying equipment, participating in the sampling, identifying plants, and in general being great company – we are very grateful for their efforts.

The first thing that needed to be done when assembling the raft was to prepare the zodiacs. Andreas Tribsch and Rolli Kaisesr with colleagues and students. Photo: Inger G. Alsos

Before going to the Alps, we had a new raft made, which had only been tested once before… it was therefore an exiting day to see if we managed to get the system working or if we had forgotten anything. Luckily, or perhaps due to thorough planning in advance, everything went pretty smoothly.

When taking the samples, we had a desired order of when to do what. The first thing after measuring the depth, noting down the position of the raft, and any other relevant information was to take a UWITEC core. The purpose of the UWITEC was to capture the water-sediment interface. The second thing on the agenda was to measure the sediment depth and to have a little sneak peak at the bottom-most sediments. Once these were done, it was time for the main sampling using the Nesje piston corer. The coring was a success and we ended up with a 3.2 m long core.

Inger G. Also doing one of the most important tasks in the field: taking notes. Photo: Kristin Heggland
After measuring the water depth under the raft, the first step was to take a UWITEC core to secure a water-sediment interface sample. Left: Inger G. Alsos, right: Sandra Garcés Pastor. Photo: Kristin Heggland
Step two is to measure the sediment depth, and to have a first glance at the sediment at the bottom(ish) of the lake. Bottom: Sandra, top: Inger. Photo: Kristin Heggland
Transporting the pipe, that was used to take the sediment core, to the raft. In the boat: Inger and Peter Heintzman. Photo: Kristin Heggland
Almost ready to core! Inger G. Alsos, Peter Heintzman and two of the students are preparing the rope for the monkey. Photo: Kristin Heggland

In addition to the coring, we did a vegetation survey around the lakes. For the Austrian lakes, we had great help from Roland Kaiser. Roland is a botanist specializing in the Austrian Alpine flora. 

The vegetation was highly influenced by grazing from the cattle and we found typical pasture indicator species such as the grass Nardus stricta and the toxic plant White false hellebore (Veratrum album). There was also some spruce and pine around the lake.

It was not only the cows that kept us company while we were coring. It turned out that the lake was a quite popular hiking destination, and that the hiking Austrians of Obertauren were of the curious kind. This opened for some great one-on-one science outreach and communication.

In conclusion, Krumschnabelsee gave us a good start to the field season. It was relatively easy to access and we had many hands to help, thanks to the students. We got the samples we came for, and got to do some outreach at the same time. Good times!

This animal has had a huge impact on the vegetation in the area and we hope that the sediments can tell us when humans first started to use the area as pasture. Photo: Kristin Heggland