Iceland Fieldwork 2016

In April this year I had the pleasure or working with a group from Manchester Met and Derby Universities in Iceland. There was opportunity for some useful skills-swapping: I provided some insights into albedo measurements on the ice surface and the MMU team gave me a tour of the mysterious basal ice.

One of the field sites: Svinafellsjokul
Kvíárjökull glacier research
The field team: L-R David Elliott, Robin Sen, Simon Cook, Joseph Cook, Mario Toubes Rodrigo (ph. David Elliott)
An exposed englacial melt channel

The trip was focussed upon the team’s regular field sites – standard practice for them but refreshing new territory for me – especially since the focus was on ice that had been pushed up from the base of the glaciers (‘basal ice’).

Ice inspection
Robin explaining the properties of basal ice – with hand specimens! (ph. David Elliott)

There were several very rewarding outcomes of the trip: first, I got to see a new research group at work and observe their approach to glacier microbiological studies. Second, I had the opportunity to chat to the team at length about their experimental design – hopefully I was able to make some positive contributions as well as learning about their science. Third, I got to visit some wonderful new sites and learn about subglacial processes, including the microbiology of several basal ice ‘facies’. Finally, I got to talk to the team about some of the processes operating on the ice surface and introduce them to spectral reflectance measurements – great training for me prior to deploying these methods in Greenland later in summer.

Glacier spectroscopy
Making some spectral reflectance measurements on the ice surface (ph. David Elliott)

The team’s research is fascinating and I’m really looking forward to seeing the data and working with them more as the project develops. Mario, the team’s PhD student has been hard at work generating big datasets that should shed some light onto the dark underside of these Icelandic glaciers.

Atmospheric shot of the famous iceberg lagoon at Jokulsaron (ph. David Elliott)

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