On the 8th and the 9th we went to the blue ice field in front of the moraine near Utsteinen Nunatak (blue area on the left side of the picture taken by Koen Meirlan). The aim was to recover the temperature loggers which were placed in two cryoconites by Zorigto Namsaraev. Cryoconites are pockets of liquid water (during summer) just below the surface of glaciers and ice sheets which are covered by a lid of ice of which the thickness can range from a few centimetres to up to 1m depending on the regional climate and the time of year. The liquid water occurs there because rocks, stones, or gravel falls onto the ice surface, capture heat as a result of the absorption of solar radiation. The rocks, stones or gravel subsequently sink into the ice. They capture the sunlight up to a certain depth which results in the presence of liquid water above this substrate. And surprisingly, although cryoconites are situated below ice and within the cold glaciers, they are, together with the lakes in Yubuko Valley (see blog of Zorigto last year) probably one of the ‘warmest’ areas during winter here near Utsteinen. Not a surprise that these small pockets of water are inhabited by microorganisms... Unfortunately, we didn’t find liquid water in the smaller of the two. Also, the logger we retrieved didn’t contain any data. By contrast, the bigger of the two cryoconites contained liquid water and the logger has measured the temperature during winter and summer 2011-2012.
Best regards, Elie