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!
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
Some under- and post-grad students recently asked me to explain how to measure NEP in cryoconite holes, and this post represents a brief overview on their behalf - apologies to other readers who may find this a bit "niche" - something more accessible next time! What is NEP? NEP stands for Net Ecosystem Productivity and is a … Continue reading Measuring NEP
C Flux Modelling To date, three attempts have been made to model carbon (C) fluxes in the supraglacial environment, all in the past five years. These models tried to reconcile 'snapshot' measurements of net ecosystem productivity (relative rates of photosynthesis and respiration - NEP) made at a small number of sites with atmospheric carbon fluxes … Continue reading Carbon Flux Modelling
Carbon cycling on glaciers has received a lot of attention over the past decade because it impacts glacier albedo and therefore melt rates, as well as regional atmospheric carbon concentrations. Atmospheric carbon concentrations and glacier retreat are known to be tightly coupled at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. This article will concentrate … Continue reading Nutrient Cycling on Glaciers 2: Carbon
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?
Cryoconite has been studied intensively, but we have only touched upon the redeposition of incumbent microbes to other glacial zones - something we expect to happen more as the climate continues to warm. Whether microbes that fix and respire carbon on glacier surfaces continue to do so when they are washed elsewhere has been pondered but … Continue reading Glacier retreat and Meta-communities
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
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…
Physical Geography of the Human Realm students: this post provides additional notes to accompany the 'Cryosphere' lecture on Friday 8th November! Ice and Climate Ice ages and glacial interglacial cycles are periodic fluctuations in earth's ice cover over geologic time. An ice age is a period during which perennial ice is present on earth's surface. … Continue reading Climate amplifiers – ‘these go to eleven’