Antarctica 2020

On 30th December I left the UK to work in the southern hemisphere for the first time. As part of the MicroMelt project, the aim was to gather samples and measurements from a selection of glaciers on Livingston Island, to better understand and quantify the role of microscopic life on glaciers in transforming and accumulating … Continue reading Antarctica 2020

New Scientist’s “Icy Oases” Article: The full interviews!

New scientist recently published an article introducing cryoconite holes as oases for microbial life on ice surfaces. As 'new scientists' working on cryoconite, colleagues Arwyn Edwards (Aberystwyth University), Karen Cameron (GEUS / Dark Snow Project) and I were interviewed by science writer Nick Kennedy. Of course only a few sound-bites made it into the final … Continue reading New Scientist’s “Icy Oases” Article: The full interviews!

Water Bears on Ice: Guest blog by Jesamine Bartlett

Huge thanks to Jesamine Bartlett - a recent MSc graduate from the University of Sheffield who has been working on Tardigrade research - for providing this introduction to the weird world of water bears... Whether or not you like microbiology, bugs, or even science, no one can deny the frankly awesome nature of the Tardigrade. … Continue reading Water Bears on Ice: Guest blog by Jesamine Bartlett

Living the High Life… in the aeolian biome

At the top of the highest mountains - where air is thin, solar irradiance intense, meteorology unpredictable, temperatures low and food scarce - spiders live on snow. The same spiders that are found in much more favourable conditions at sea level around the world. With no specific adaptations and no obvious lower trophic levels to … Continue reading Living the High Life… in the aeolian biome

Microbes on Ice: Climate Amplifiers?

I recently published an introduction to glacier microbiology on the climate-science website Climatica: Here's a link... http://climatica.org.uk/microbes-ice-climate-amplifiers For anyone interested in climate science and wanting an introduction to a wealth of relevant articles and links, Climatica is a great resource well worth having a thorough browse! For more information, the reference list below includes some … Continue reading Microbes on Ice: Climate Amplifiers?

Nutrient Cycling on Glaciers 1: Nitrogen

Nutrient cycling has been a central theme of glacier microbiology in the twenty-first century. Here is a run-down of the fundamentals, focussing on the major ones: nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen's up first... The Nitrogen Cycle: Nitrogen is a key nutrient required for synthesising crucial organic molecules such as nucleotides, proteins, and chlorophyll. Nitrogen availability also … Continue reading Nutrient Cycling on Glaciers 1: Nitrogen

Reconstructing Past Glaciers: Guest Article by Dr Bethan Davies

Many thanks to Dr Bethan Davies from Aberystwyth University for contributing this excellent article to To The Poles. Not only is Bethan a prolific and ingenious palaeoglaciologist, she also manages Antarcticglaciers.org, a key resource for anyone wishing to learn about glaciology from the fundamentals right up to the cutting edge. NB. This article about palaeo-glacier … Continue reading Reconstructing Past Glaciers: Guest Article by Dr Bethan Davies

Cryoconite Ecology: there’s something in the water…

Cryoconite holes represent the most active and biodiverse habitats in the supraglacial (ice surface) environment. Within cryoconite holes the majority of microbial life is concentrated in and around spheroidal granules of 1-10mm diameter, composed of mineral and organic matter, known as cryoconite. However, overlying cryoconite is almost always a column of meltwater centimetres to tens … Continue reading Cryoconite Ecology: there’s something in the water…