Friday, 23 September 2016 17:32

The 'Mossome' Antarctic

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Since my arrival on King George Island, I have been sciencing-away making the most of the opportunities to collect samples, learn new moss species, perform experiments and set up new ones. It has been exciting to meet with new collaborators and make new contacts in Antarctic science.

On Thursday Angelica's group walked to Punta Juan Carlos on the other side of the island (about 30-45 mins walk away, approx. 2 km). We walked through a lot of snow and much of it was melting underneath making the ice-free areas very boggy. It has been a good test for my boots and thermal clothing. The weather was fantastic - a great day to do lots of fluorescence measuring for Angelica and collect a few moss samples for identification back in the lab.

Each day we don't know what the weather brings or what the logistics allows us to do, so it is usually a mad rush when a chance arises to head out to a site; and Friday and Saturday were no different. On Saturday, we made the most of what turned out to be a good day and headed to Ardley Peninsula/Island. The island has a large penguin colony on it – hundreds of penguins and many fluffy babies – and a lot of moss! I helped the collective group (Angelica, Portland group and Gustavo's group) set up open-top-chambers over some of the moss carpets; the beginning of a 3-year study on the effects of warming temperatures on moss community structure, morphology and physiology.

Both days after Sharon and Andrew arrived we headed to a lush moss site adjacent to Collins Glacier - a 20 min zodiac ride away from Base Escudero. It was picturesque with extensive moss cushions spanning over different moisture environments. Sharon and I collected a few moss samples over this site for identification, analysis and experiments back in the lab (more later). We also helped set up some more chambers whilst being rewarded with a fantastic view. As the Portland group would say, it was 'mossome'!


Hannah and I at Collins Glacier    Photo: Andrew Netherwood

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The moss team setting up open-top-chambers at Collins Glacier

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