The University of Leeds has returned to the Finse Alpine Research Station, Norway. We are met by wetter, colder and windier conditions than during our July stay, and persistent mist and fog has joined us. Autumn has arrived here and during patches of improved visibility, the mosses and dwarf shrubs are a show of colour. We set out across the plateau to visit our 15 river sites and retrieve the cotton strips which have been submerged for the past six weeks, to measure cellulose decomposition.
Good news – they have all survived!! Despite potential flood events, high turbidity and movement of bed substrates, our cotton strips have persisted at all sites – incredible! This is a huge relief as it provides us with data across a gradient of glacial influence. A small portion of each was removed and preserved for microbial analysis. The remaining strips were placed in ethanol to halt any further decomposition on transit back to Leeds. Here there tensile strength will be determined as a proxy for cellulose decomposition. We hope to identify the response of river cellulose decomposition to glacier retreat.
During this stay, we have also re-run the incubation experiments performed in July to measure benthic respiration rates across a glaciality gradient. We have repeated this for 12 sites and although data is very preliminary at this stage, rates appear to be slower than in July, potentially indicating a seasonal influence upon cobble respiration. Biofilm scrubs will be taken and the surface area of each cobble calculated to determine benthic respiration rates in response to deglaciation. Collection of cobbles and stream water from across the plateau gave us opportunity to see some of the spectacular wildlife at Finse.
We would like to thank Interact, the station and particularly Erika Leslie, for making us so welcome in Finse. We have been incredibly lucky to get our samples and have really enjoyed our time here.