14 Jan, Thursday.
It was a bit windy in the morning (SE-E) and mostly cloudy. After the successful finding of cryoconites yesterday, we wanted to go back. It was much-much-much harder today!! The ice was thick and hard and the drill easily blunted. For one of the cryoconites, it took us about an hour to finish the drilling! Three men were pressing on the drill and a fourth was rotating.
We went with Rene and David. David installed a microphone under my windproof jacket and filmed us. But when they saw how we were suffering with the drill, they participated to help us. Without them, it would have been much more difficult.
In total, we have drilled 5 cryoconites. The temperature of water was 0.5 C. The pH was around 7.6. However, we need to measure again because the battery of the pH meter died during the first measurement. The short life of batteries is a real problem in this cold environment!
We discovered that the higher cryoconites had a thinner ice lid but contained no water anymore. The ones lower on the slope had a thicker lid and more water.
Then, we went to a kind of "oasis" on the Northern slope of Utsteinen. It is well protected from SE and E winds, directed to the North and has a snow field above.There are even streams of liquid water. All good conditions to find Life and indeed, under a big black flat stone with water flowing on its surface, I have found cyanobacterial biomass on the gravel. The temperature at the surface was +4 C , whereas it was -7.1 C in the air. By curiosity, I have installed a temperature microsensor on a bamboo stick at 2 m altitude, to compare the conditions between this ‘oasis’ and the ridge (where I also have installed a sensor at 2 m altitude). In addition, we will be able to compare the cyanobacterial diversity in these two sites with the same rock type, but different microclimates. Something like "Cyanobacterial diversity in relation to microclimatic conditions".