Melting ice sheets and glaciers are exposing vast ethereal landscapes dominated by seemingly barren post-glaciation soils. These new habitats support specialized and resilient microorganisms, and after many years, even lichens and plants. However, access to and measurements of these remote sites are typically restricted to the summer-and thus seasonal effects, including prolonged cold, dark winters, are under-studied.
This collaborative effort between U.S. (University of Utah; University of Colorado, Boulder) and U.K. (Queen Mary University of London; British Geological Survey) researchers will measure biological, hydrologic, and chemical activity under the winter and spring snowpack, in soils near a retreating glacier in Svalbard, Norway, via continuously operated sensors and repeated field measurements. This will enable scientists to understand how under-snow processes contribute to the functioning and development of these unique soil ecosystems now and into the future. Additionally, project researchers will bring interactive lessons to classrooms in underserved areas in rural Colorado and Utah, remotely reach classrooms and podcast audiences around the world, provide research training for high school students from rural Colorado, and training for two university students and three postdoctoral researchers.