This summer a team of three people from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds will travel to Tarfala to conduct in situ bio/geochemical measurements and to collect a series of snow and ice samples from the glaciers around the Tarfala research station. The main aim of our field work is to determine how microbial life is distributed on thes snow and ice fields around Tarfala and to determine how microbes survive and adapt to harsh, cold environments. We will evaluate how the snow and ice algae and bacteria affect carbon cycling on glaciers and aim to link microbial community structure with several other geochemical parameters like light availability and nutrient cycling. We will also address the inter- and co-dependencies between the various cold-loving organisms found on snow and ice on a glacier (cryophiles).
Our team has members who complement each other in experience, knowledge and skills. Prof Liane G Benning has is an experimental biogeochemist who’s research spans geochemistry, mineralogy and microbiology, Stefanie Lutz is specialized in microbiology, geoecology and Geobiology. The final member of the team Benjamin J Wilcock comes from a zoology and biology background, with past work on psychrophiles and Mars cryogenic environmental analysis. Follow the team’s work at Benjamin J Wilcock’s blog “Adventure in the name of science“.