Greenbelt MD (JPL) Sep 15, 2010
Elena Kukavskaya's love of nature began at an early age, in a very cold and faraway place. She was raised in Siberia's third largest city - Krasnoyarsk - and as a child considered herself "an urban resident." So it was nice to escape to the country. "From little up, I love nature and enjoy the beautiful colors of the autumn landscape of the national reserve near Krasnoyarsk," she says.
That love evolved into a passion to learn more about the wildfires that routinely sweep Russia's vast forestland. Today, Kukavskaya is a researcher with the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences' V. N. Sukachev Institute of Forest in Krasnoyarsk.
She's also a newly minted Fulbright scholar who just travelled 7,000 miles (11,265 km) across 12 time zones to spend the next six months at NASA Langley working through the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Va.
While here, Kukavskaya will work on a project called "Siberian Biomass Burning Emission Estimates" in the Science Directorate's Chemistry and Dynamics Branch.
"What I am going to do, I will enhance the methodology to obtain carbon emissions due to fires, to obtain more accurate data of carbon emissions," she said on a recent morning at Langley.
Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are greenhouse gases produced naturally, by industrial activity and by wildfires. They are a major contributor to global warming. Russian wildfires are especially significant because two-thirds of the world's boreal, or northern, forests are in Siberia. Most of the Earth's terrestrial carbon is stored in them, in both living and dead vegetation.
Wildfires are growing more frequent in Siberia. Global warming already has been attributed to increased forest destruction in eastern Siberia and other northern regions. A vivid glimpse of the possible future occurred this summer, as out-of-control wildfires and record drought and high temperatures tormented Russians.
In Siberia, Kukavskaya was part of research teams at experimental fires. The fire areas, typically several acres, were then set ablaze for researchers like Kukavskaya to study. The main goal of such experiments is to estimate and monitor fire effects on carbon cycling, emissions and forest health and sustainability.
Into the wild white yonder
Kukavskaya's mentor, Amber Soja, said women seem particularly attracted to this type of adventurous research. "The ones that often work in the toughest places are women," said Soja, a wildfire researcher who supports the Science Directorate through the National Institute of Aerospace. "I'm not sure why women are attracted to this, but we are."
Soja has high praise for her protege. She and Kukavskaya met in Siberia and worked together on the FIRE BEAR (Fire Effects in the Boreal Eurasia Region) Project. "Here we are now with a highly accomplished scientist," she said.
Growing up in Siberia
Since arriving in the U.S., Kukavskaya has settled in Poquoson, bought a car, and gone swimming - another passion - at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. It was her first contact with the Atlantic, though she has travelled to the U.S. twice for scientific conferences.
Her interests outside work include yoga, swimming, caring for her cat, Emmy, and hanging out with friends. She's been too busy defending her doctoral dissertation to enjoy much free time.
"But if I had the time, I try to use it to improve my English knowledge. What I really like is going in Russia to French courses. I very like it."
It's obvious Kukavskaya enjoys what she does professionally about as much as what she does outside work.
"I am always excited about new experiences, and like to know the world around us," she said. "Nowadays, I cannot see my life unengaged with studying of fires and their effect on forest ecosystems and environment."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
- Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com
Study: Tigers facing 'last stand'
New York (UPI) Sep 14, 2010
The world's remaining tigers, hit by hunting and habitat destruction, have taken refuge in just 6 percent of available territory in Asia, a U.S. study found. The Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups report fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild, of which only about 1,000 are breeding females, a society release said Tuesday. The study has identified 42 "source sites" ... read more
Sirius XM-5 Satellite Delivered To Baikonur For October Launch|
Emerging Technologies May Fuel Revolutionary Launcher
EUMETSAT Chooses Arianespace To Launch Metop-C
Falcon 1e Launch Capabilities Brought To The European Institutional Market
NASA's Next Mars Rover Rolls Over Ramps
Don't Forget Deimos
Russia to test Mars lander for 2011 flight
How Microbes Could Help Colonize Mars
Russia To Test Unmanned Lander For Mars Moon Mission
China preps next lunar space mission
Chandrayaan-2 Will Try Out New Ideas And Technologies
Data From Chandrayaan Moon Mission To Go Public
Flying To The Edge
Picture-Perfect Pluto Practice
Weighing The Planets, From Mercury To Saturn
Pounding Particles To Create Neptune's Water In The Lab
This Planet Smells Funny
Scientists looking to spot alien oceans
Deadly Tides Mean Early Exit For Hot Jupiters
Can We Spot Volcanoes On Alien Worlds
Successful Static Testing Of L 110 Liquid Core Stage Of GSLV 3
Danish rocketeers abort launch attempt
Technical glitch grounds homemade Danish rocket
ISRO To Conduct Key Test For GSLV Mk III Rocket Next Week
China's Second Lunar Probe Chang'e-2 To Reach Lunar Orbit Faster Than Chang'e-1
China Finishes Construction Of First Unmanned Space Module
China Contributes To Space-Based Information Access A Lot
China Sends Research Satellite Into Space
Scientists find 'rubble pile' asteroids
Avoiding An Asteroid Collision
Amateur Astronomers Open Potential Lab In Outer Space For Planetary Scientists
Two asteroids to pass close to Earth, but won't hit: NASA
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|