The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is Earth's largest freshwater ecosystem, containing bacteria, algae, viruses and other microbes transported there by wind and redistributed by ice flow. Therefore, at UNIS we teamed up with the Norwegian Polar Institut, as well as Aberystwyth and Northhumbria Universities to perform a study of microorganisms survival during snow methamorphism into glacier ice, and within the ice sheet itself.
The fieldwork took place this December 2019 and January 2020 in the vicinity of Troll Research Station. During two months stay at the station we collected ice cores from some of the oldest surface ice outcrops in Antarctica as well as water and sediment samples from cryoconite holes (see pictures below).
Blue Ice Oases of Microbial Life on the Antarctic Ice Sheet (BIOICE)
Antarctica is just one of our target sites. To compare microorganisms survival in different types of ice, we will also perform fieldwork in the Norwegian High Arctic.
In so doing we will give close attention to the fate of certain microorganisms that are found to be important in both polar regions and we will be able to explain how microbes cope with the different burial and snow to ice metamorphism conditions.
Blue Ice Area in the vicinity of Troll Research Station
Blue Ice Areas (BIA) around the periphery of the Antarctic Ice Sheet