James is in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, carrying out fieldwork supported by the SIOS Access Program (CAP-BIO, SIOS-2019-0011). Our aim is to sample proglacial soils during the autumn freeze-up period as the last rays of sunshine disappear before the long Polar night, and carry out essential maintenance on the sensor equipment we installed during the summer.
The onset of autumn freeze-up limits biological activity because temperatures fall below zero, and liquid water becomes scarce. However, recent studies have shown that biological activity may persist year-round, despite the harsh environment. Nevertheless, the seasonal dynamics of Arctic soil ecosystems are barely beginning to be explored, in part because of logistical challenges associated with accessing field sites during the permanently dark period.
The results of the project will contribute to understanding the future of Arctic soils exposed by glacier retreat, and the role the long polar night plays in that future.
The CAP-BIO field team consists of James Bradley (QMUL, GFZ), Mihai Cimpoiasu and Harry Harrison (BGS), Lara Vimercati (CU Boulder).