James is in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, for the first field campaign of the NSF and NERC-funded SUN SPEARS project, investigating seasonal changes in microbial communities in Arctic soils. Accelerated climate warming in the Arctic is causing significant reductions in the extent of glaciers and ice sheets. As glaciers retreat, pioneer soils are uncovered, supporting emerging microbial communities which drive biogeochemical transformations. The SUN SPEARS project will characterize the year-round soil biological, thermal and hydrological properties, to better understand the fate of emerging Arctic soils and develop continuous models of soil biogeochemical dynamics. The multi-disciplinary team are busy collecting the first sets of biological and chemical samples from Midtre Lovénbreen, and are installing several monitoring stations which include arrays of geo-electrical sensors.
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