T minus 7 days!

Hello all, Aberystwyth calling! My name is Richard Hill and I am a first year PhD student in Microbiology at Aberystwyth University, Wales. Today I bring you the first, of hopefully many, blogs from at home in Wales and northern Sweden, where I will do my research.

I am interested in the effects of climate change on the structure and function of the soil microbial community in the Arctic, with access to a unique long term elevated CO2 experiment situated in the stunning landscape of the Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland. In just over a week from now I shall be departing for my first full field season at ANS. I have been busy preparing for the expedition, where I plan to investigate the dynamic changes that occur in the soil microbial community during the spring thaw. To do this I shall be manipulating the snow pack of the region, accelerating and delaying snow melt to see how this influences the activity of the microbial community below. Along with microorganisms in the soil, I will also be investigating the microbial community and chemistry of the overlying snow cover.

Cutting snow "blankets" to size
Cutting snow “blankets” to size

All of this has involved some serious science in the lab – as you can see! – preparing dark, heat absorbent  material and reflective “space blankets” to place over the snow manipulation plots. In fact, I have even managed to get out and do some fieldwork in the wintry conditions away from the Arctic – the recent cold spring we have had here in the UK saw substantial snowfall across much of the country, and provided the perfect excuse for me to get out of the office!

Sampling snow from Nant-yr-Arian heath – the closest Aberystwyth will get to Swedish Lapland!

I will be bringing regular updates from my field visits to Abisko and beyond and look forward to sharing news of my exploits!

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