Dr. Chris Vogel - silent guardian, watchful protector - at the top of the AmeriFlux tower in 2006.

Dr. Chris Vogel, longtime UMBS Research Scientist, has announced his retirement effective spring 2023. He has spent his 30 year career at the top of his field: figuratively, as the highly successful manager of the UMBS AmeriFlux tower core site, and literally, because equipment maintenance required him to scale the 150 foot tower biweekly.

As for biographical details, Vogel sets the timeline straight: “I spent my first summer here in 1992 as a postdoc with Peter Curtis from THE Ohio State University studying the effects of elevated CO2 on tree growth and physiology. I started full time on the AmeriFlux project in 1997.”

Though Vogel is notoriously reluctant to take credit, collaborators credit his high standards and tireless efforts with the UMBS site’s renown within the AmeriFlux network – including its earned designation as a “core site” based on ecosystem representation, length of prior data record, continuity in site management, and quality of existing data. According to Co-PI Dr. Gil Bohrer, the UMBS AmeriFlux site boasts “the highest quality long term data on forest carbon dynamics in the world”, due in large part to Vogel’s diligence (and decades long battle against the meddlesome ravens who covet the tower’s shiny metal instruments).

We asked Vogel a few questions about his career in retrospect.

What's changed at UMBS since you started?

“I'll give you my nerdy answer first; Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has changed dramatically since I first arrived at UMBS. When we were doing elevated CO2 work in 1992, we were doubling the then current ambient CO2 concentration of 357 ppm. Today it's close to 412 ppm. That's a 15% increase since I've been here.

The place that is UMBS hasn't changed that much other than the year-to-year turnover of students, researchers, and instructors. The only thing that comes to mind is back around 2000 the outsides of the cabins were scrubbed of all graffiti. There used to be some great artwork on the outsides of the tin cabins, but some young hooligans decided to paint a big sign on their cabin extolling the benefits of beer and it was neither arty nor clever. The director at the time decided that all graffiti would have to go. Many of us tried to talk the director out of his decision, but he stood firm and all the graffiti was scrubbed.”

What advice would you give your replacement?

“My one liner to my replacement might be ‘do your best, but don't lose sleep if things don't go the way you would like.’ Believe it or not, I used to worry about all sorts of little things that I had little control over. Like marauding ravens.”

What are you going to miss about your job?

“I'm going to miss many aspects of the job that allowed me to spend time in the field. I'll miss the views from the tops of the towers. I'll miss the staff here, a great bunch of people! I remember many times when in a cranky mood about work, all I'd have to do is look out across Douglas Lake and think to myself that every day is like a vacation when working at UMBS.”


From all of us at UMBS – thank you, Chris, for 30 years of work and friendship.