In 2016 and 2017, blogger and photographer Erika Zambello launched a road trip to visit as many LTER sites as possible. Follow her travels through the LTER Road Trip StoryMap or peruse the stories below.

See more of Erika’s work at E. Zambello Writing and Photography.

LTER Road Trip: Kelp Forests link land and sea

Close up of kelp fronds

The path to the beach was steep, partially eroded by the wind and rain on this Pacific Ocean-facing cliff in Santa Barbara. Carefully holding my camera, I scampered down as gracefully as I could after Kyle Emery and Nick Schooler, two PhD students at the University of Santa Barbara. From the top of the cliff,… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Beach Hoppers Illustrate Coastal Resilience in Santa Barbara

Closeup of a beach hopper (aka sand flea)

Two undergraduate students bent over shiny metal trays loaded with wrack from the nearby beaches at the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research site (SBC LTER). Bright lights lit up their tweezers as they sifted through vegetation and detritus, searching for specific creatures: beach hoppers, beetles, flies, and isopods, as well as different species… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Decomposing Cactus in the Arizona Desert

decomposition plot with a piece of cactus.

Flowers bloomed in the mountain desert outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and I leapt out of the car near the Central-Arizona Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) site’s research plots. At first, it was the saguaro cacti that completely arrested my attention. Tall and thick, the giant cacti reached to the sky like hands; the… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: A Hidden Carbon-Storing Oasis in Phoenix

Chris Sanchez shows off some plant matter buried in the marsh mud

When you think of Phoenix, Arizona, a lush wetland is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. If you’re like me, you imagine soaring desert mountains dotted with saguaro cactus, a hot valley in colors of stone, now glittering with lights from downtown. Yet, there I was, knee deep in mud in the… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Music and Art Meets Science at Hubbard Brook

WaterViz artistically represents a live-stream of data from Hubbard Brook.

Envisioning Data at Hubbard Brook It’s not every day that you walk into a forest and find musical instruments set up carefully next to a gurgling stream.  Yet melding art and science together is a regular part of the day-to-day operations at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Imagine the way that scientific data is normally… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: A Look into the future with DroughtNet

One of the DroughtNet plots seen from above.

Visiting DroughtNet The canopy of the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest glowed in the afternoon light. Sun filtered through the leaves, forming a patterned roof over the forest floor. I walked with Hubbard Brook team leader, Dr. Lindsey Rustad, past several research plots and up a small hill. Peeking at us through the tree trunks was… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: From Ice Storms to Summer Droughts

The Hubbard Brook weather station near headquarters.

Exploring the Northern Temperate Forest at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Research Forest In 1955, the USDA Forest Service set aside over 3,000 acres in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the express purpose of studying hydrology of northern temperate ecosystems, part of a novel, long term set of research initiatives known as the Hubbard… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Teaching the Next Generation of Ecologists

Nate Vandiver has now experienced fieldwork first-hand, a memory he can take to his environmental studies courses in college.

Nate Vandiver arrived at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) offices early on a Friday morning. Pulling on knee-length boots over his long work pants, he helped gather sampling equipment and load it into a van for a day of stream monitoring. Vandiver is a high school senior at the Friends School of Baltimore, and at… Read more »