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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2010  /  September 2010  /  Greenland focus for ECRC fieldwork this summer

Greenland focus for ECRC fieldwork this summer

Nitrogen deposition as source of ecological change in Arctic lakes

Greenland focus for ECRC fieldwork this summer

This summer, Drs Gavin Simpson, Chris Curtis, Simon Patrick and Viv Jones, of the UCL Environmental Change Research Centre, joined colleagues from the University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast on a five week trip to the Søndre Stromfjord region of Western Greenland. The expedition was part of a NERC-funded project to investigate the role of nitrogen deposition in ecological change in Arctic lakes.

One purpose of their work was to locate deposition collectors along a 160 km transect from the coast at Sisimiut to the ice-sheet east of Kangerlussuaq. This involved long walks carrying snow tubes, funnels, wires, drills and other heavy equipment to three different areas.  The collectors were constructed in situ and secured by tensioned wires screwed into the bedrock. At each site, 5 replicate collectors will collect precipitation over the coming months, fixing dissolved species onto a resin for subsequent analysis. The resins will be collected in Spring 2011 and analysed to determine the total amount and isotopic composition of dissolved nitrogen species (nitrate [NO3-] and ammonium [NH4+]).  There are remarkably few measurements of nitrogen deposition in the Arctic and these will contribute to knowledge of long-range atmospheric pollution transport to the region.

Sediment cores were also taken from a number of lakes along the transect to test the hypothesis that nitrogen deposition is driving ecological change in this part of the Arctic.  These will be radiometrically dated and analysed at the ECRC for carbon and nitrogen isotopes in sedimentary organic matter, with analysis of algal pigments undertaken by the University of Nottingham, and diatom analysis at Loughborough University and the ECRC.