Tarfala gets going!

After a frustratingly snowy start to my time in Tarfala, the snow eventually turned to slush, and within days the glacier’s bare ice finally started to reveal itself. On July 11th, 11 days after arriving at Tarfala, and after a bout of gale force winds, I dashed up the hills on the other side of the valley to my glacial site to get an overview of the melt situation. Filled with excitement over what must surely be bare ice, I raced back down the hill, grabbed my sampling kit, and managed to take my first supraglacial samples from Storeglaciären!! A long day, but well worth it!!

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The benefits of taking a step back!! Bare ice patches on Storeglaciären revealing themselves on July 11th.

From this point on, the next two and a half weeks became a non-stop carousel of hiking up the glacier to collect samples in the morning, then returning to the lab to process and analyze them in the afternoon and often into the evening. The glacier didn’t disappoint with its abundance of ice algae; so I was extremely happy with that. Despite it being a fairly exhausting schedule to be doing without assistance, I’m confident that I’ve got a great collection of samples in storage ready to take home now.

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Processing samples on the glacier to snapshot their biological signatures as soon as possible
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Surface ice samples, rich in ice algae, were carried back to the field lab for processing and analyzing
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The never ending filtering fun!
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x10 magnification of surface ice samples collected on a filter

Winter seemed to keep clinging on in the Tarfala valley. The winds were fierce at times and clouds and rain became no stranger to me. Thankfully, in the final week and a half of July, the sun shone and pushed summer along, and before I knew it I was skipping down the valley towards Nikkaluokta; the portal back to the real world, ready for my first return journey home. I’m now in the UK for a couple of weeks, but I’ll be back at the end of August to take more samples, conduct more experiments and finish up this INTERACT funded field work.

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July 23rd and Tarfala lake is showing little signs that winter is ready to roll over
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The beautiful walk down the valley from Tarfala back towards civilization.

 

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