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Black and Bloom prepares for first field expedition to Greenland ice sheet

Black and Bloom scientists have spent the last few months ordering, testing and packing literally tons of specialised equipment for deployment on the Greenland ice sheet during their upcoming first field season.

To understand the impact of microbial processes and particles on the darkening and increasing melt of the ice sheet, we are heading out to spend 6 weeks camping on the ice during the annual melt season.

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Meteorological station S6 of the IMAU K-transect, and home for the Black and Bloom 2016 primary ice camp, located within the ‘dark-zone’ of the western Greenland ice sheet.

Our primary ice camp will be located close to station S6 of the IMAU K-transect network of meteorological stations, roughly 60 km inland from the western Greenland town of Kangerlussuaq. This site was previously investigated by the successful darksnow project, giving us a great insight into the microbiology and albedo dynamics of the area, allowing us to hit the ground running.

For 6 weeks (early July – mid August), we’ll be monitoring the regions microorganisms, dark particle loadings, and albedo, at a scale never before attempted. This will allow us to match our observations on the ground with satellite-derived data that is available for the whole ice sheet. We’ll also be running specific experiments to test our hypotheses of the controls and drivers of darkening of the ice surface, and its relations to surface albedo.

To feed all this science, a considerable amount of preparation has been undertaken to design, test, and transport all the equipment needed over to Greenland. Between us we’ve shipped out over 5 pallets worth, which are now waiting for us in Kangerlussuaq.

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WP1 Post-Doc Researcher, Chris Williamson, wrapping the University of Bristol’s pallets for onward transport to Greenland for the first field season.

We’ve also undergone some pretty rigorous, though highly entertaining, remote field work first-aid training. This course, led by the excellent Marlin Training, is specifically designed to teach the advanced first-aid skills needed by researchers undertaking remote fieldwork, where an ambulance could be hours away, and we cant recommend it highly enough!

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Post-Doc Researchers Joe Cook (right – WP3) and Andrew Tedstone (left – WP4) perfecting their remote field-work first aid skills during our Marlin training course.

On the 8th of July the first team will fly over to Kangerlussuaq and spend a few days preparing all our equipment for onward transport by helicopter onto the ice. On Tuesday the 12th we’ll then jump on board Air Greenland’s Sikorsky helicopter for the hours ride up to the ice camp, and the work begins!

Second and third waves of Black and Bloom scientists will join the ice camp throughout our six week field season, as well as reporters from the BBC and other media organisations. Keep track of our progress via our posts on the Black and Bloom home page, and our twitter feed @Glacier_Albedo.

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Air Greenland’s Sikorsky helicopter in Kangerlussuaq, which will take the first Black and Bloom team onto the ice on the 12th July.