GRIS 15: Final prep

It s now just three days until our Greenland Ice Sheet 2015 (GRIS 15) field season kicks off and we are currently busy with final preparations, packing and tying up loose ends before we leave. I think it is fair to say the team are getting excited – Mike has already packed and is raring to go, I haven’t heard from Arwyn for a couple of days but I assume his kit is still packed from his last polar adventure! Otti and I are busy finishing up our lab work, and I am preparing a Greenland-focussed talk for the annual University of Derby Learning and Teaching Conference on Wednesday afternoon, finishing papers and tying up loose ends from this year’s teaching. It’s all a bit frantic, but soon we will be in the vast open nothing-ness of the ice sheet with nothing but science and adventure on our minds!

Here’s some of the basic info about the trip:

Location:

The field site is located relatively close to the margin of the south-west Greenland Ice Sheet, near the town of Kangerlussuaq. We will be accessing the ice from a site known as Point 660 (named in reference to the elevation at that point).

The field site during last year's reconnaissance visit
The field site during last year’s reconnaissance visit on a perfect field-work day
And in slightly less favourable conditions!
And in slightly less favourable conditions!

The Aims:

We aim to learn more about the biotic and abiotic processes that operate on and under the surface of the ice sheet, particularly focussing on aspects of microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. We have designed a suite of novel experiments and activities to undertake on the ice, and will be recording images and video footage for creating outreach and educational materials on our return. We will be having an adventure and learning as much as possible about a weakly understood, beautiful and threatened environment!

Cryoconite holes - generally considered to be the most biodiverse microbial habitats on glacier surfaces and one of the features we will study during GRIS15
Cryoconite holes – generally considered to be the most biodiverse microbial habitats on glacier surfaces and one of the features we will study during GRIS15

The Team:

We are Joseph Cook (Glacier Biogeochemistry, University of Derby), Michael Sweet (Microbiology, University of Derby), Arwyn Edwards (Molecular biology, Aberystwyth University) and Ottavia Cavalli (Microbiology, Aberystwyth University).

Dr's Cook and Edwards working at the field site in 2014
Dr’s Cook and Edwards working at the field site in 2014 (ph. Tris Irvine-Fynn)

Supporters:

The trip has been generously supported by the following organisations:

British Society for Geomorphology

Mount Everest Foundation

Gino Watkins Memorial Fund

Andrew Croft Memorial Fund

Gilchrist Education Fund

Scottish Arctic Club

University of Derby

Gradconsult

We are hugely grateful to all of these organisations for their support, please follow the links above to find more information about the great work they do in supporting science, education and adventure.

Interested?

If you are interested in keeping up with our progress, please return to this website for updates and reports, follow me (@tothepoles), Arwyn (@arwynedwards), Mike (@diseasematters) and Otti (@ottaviacavalli) on twitter, both before, during and after the trip as we will be documenting our progress as often as possible. However, since the field site is rather remote, the frequency of updates will be slightly limited by internet access!

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