As with many things, I have been guilty of letting this channel slip over time. Like many before me I had blog aspirations but you can probably guess the rest. Anyway much has happened since the last post in December 2013, yes it’s really that long. We’re continued to visit the Isle of Arran every September with some of our final year students for an atmospheric science fieldcourse, the course is now multinstitutional, taking students from both the Universities of Reading and Edinburgh, it’s always great to mix up the groups and see them thrive through having such a broad range of skills around a single table. I have posted about this fieldcourse in the past so won’t elaborate here.
A major event was the funding success of the Black and Bloom project (website has just gone live last week). This is a major project funded by NERC which will make, what we think to be, the most comprehension survey of the biological process that are thought to contribute to the darkening of the Greenland Ice sheet. Black sand Bloom is a bit of a new venture for me as much of my previous fieldwork has onboard the UK research aircraft, originally the now retired MRF C130 ‘Snoopy’ and latterly the NERC ARSF Dornier and the FAAM 146 aircraft. That said before that my PhD work was ground-based, on the west coast of Ireland at Macehead as part of the ACSOE project back in the late 90s.
As an aside from the scientific challenges we have to tackle for the Black and Bloom project, we will also have to contend with the extra complexity of working on the icesheet. Things such as the only way to access the site is by the Air Greenland S61 helicopter based in Kangerlussuaq (or just ‘Kanger’ as everyone seems to call the place. Accommodation is fairly basic, that translates into tents…. we do have two fairly impressive tents which provide us with a lab and also a ‘mess’ for cooking and general relaxation space, if such a thing actually exists where we’re heading. The site we are heading to (tomorrow!) is around 20 minutes flight from Kanger, around 30 km onto the icesheet itself, we want to be well away from the edges where the dangers of hidden crevases doesn’t bear thinking about. We have a solar powered system with generator as a backup AND to be operated when the site is downwind of our observation al area (but to be avoided because of the pollution it generates when it’s running, pointless producing the stuff I’ll be trying to measure). For the assorted surface measurements we will setup our ‘pixel’ this is a 500 x 500m area that will be instrumented and have samples collected from across it, this allows us to capture a representative selection of some of the inhomogeneities across the ice surface, the satellite image above illustrates this nicely.