DELVE: Development and validation of first generation chemical sensors for icy ecosystems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Geographical Sciences

Abstract

Glaciers and ice sheets are one of the least explored parts of the Earth's surface, and are now known to harbor significant populations of micro-organisms despite the challenging environmental conditions (e.g. extreme cold, desiccation, freezing and high pressure under ice sheets). Many of these microbes accelerate chemical weathering and supply nutrients to downstream ecosystems. A better knowledge of these processes is widely recognized as important for understanding: 1) global impacts of glaciers/ice sheets on the cycling of carbon and nutrients 2) biodiversity and life in extreme environments (e.g. Antarctic Subglacial Lakes) and 3) water flow beneath ice sheets as inferred from meltwater chemistry. Currently, the toolkits available to glaciologists to advance knowledge in these areas are very limited, and a technological leap is required to engage fully in future science campaigns. Building on previous work, this proposal aims to develop the first generation of compact chemical sensors for use in glaciers and ice sheets. While much of this technology has been evaluated for use in the oceans, it has not been assessed or modified for application in icy environments. We will take this technology and evaluate its performance under icy conditions (e.g. at low temperature, under freeze/thaw, at high pressure and with glacial meltwater sample types). This will be followed by design changes and further testing, culminating in a final demonstration of prototype instruments in Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic. These developments will provide key and rate limiting technology for future glacial science, and will have application in subglacial lake exploration (e.g. Subglacial Lake Ellsworth, Antarctica), in marine under-ice operations (e.g. Autosub under ice), and across a wide range of icy ecosystems where in situ measurements are desirable. This work is a forerunner to high impact international science campaigns requiring the development of purpose-built measuring systems that employ a comprehensive array of chemical sensor (e.g. the Lake Ellsworth Exploration Programme, the 'Basal Conditions on Rutford Ice Stream: Bed Access, Monitoring and Ice Sheet History' (BEAMISH) and the US-funded WISSARD programme, with which we have strong links). It also has strong relevance to water quality monitoring in freshwater environments, which will be explored via collaboration with the Environment Agency, UK.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description To report later in grant timeline
Exploitation Route to report later in the grant timeline
Sectors Environment

 
Description To report later in the grant timeline
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Environment
 
Description Chair of the SCAR ATHENA Expert Group (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) "Advancing TecHnologies for subglacial ExploratioN in Antarctica" and in the SCAR Code of Conduct for subglacial access in Antarctica
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact The SCAR Code of Conduct (on which Wadham served as a panel member) established guidelines for subglacial exploration in Antarctica. These have informed 3 subglacial lake access campaigns worldwide.
URL http://www.scar.org/scar_media/documents/science/atcm34_ip033_CofC_SAEs.pdf
 
Description NERC-CONICYT joint funding scheme
Amount £733,000 (GBP)
Funding ID PII20150106 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 04/2019
 
Description Sub-ice sheet weathering: a missing link in the global silicon cycle?
Amount £262,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RPG-2016-439 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 05/2021
 
Description UKIERI: Bio-climatic feedbacks of melting Himalayan Ice
Amount £198,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2020
 
Title New sensors for exploring icy ecosystems 
Description We have developed, tested and validated (in the field and laboratory) a new suite of chemical sensors for use in cryospheric environments. This work was a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (where the sensors were developed). This involved taking marine sensor technology and adapting it to withstand conditions in icy ecosystems, e.g. low temperature, freeze-thaw etc. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This is a new research outcome, but would make a new suite of sensors available to those working in icy regions. 
 
Description Collaboration with Thermofisher Scientific 
Organisation Thermo Fisher Scientific
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Thermo. commissioned our laboratory to perform a Ion Chromatograph system inter-comparison for the analysis of natural waters
Collaborator Contribution We are undertaking the inter comparison project
Impact A short film has been produced (see engagement outputs), the results will be used to improve the current technology
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with the East Greenland Ice Core Project (EGRIP) 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Department Niels Bohr Institute
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Liz Bagshaw (former PDRA on two technology-led NERC grants led from Bristol) participated in the EGRIP field season, and developed and deployed Etracers and Cryo-Eggs for monitoring processes in firn.
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration would not have been possible without significant in kind backing from the EGRIP team.
Impact Further plans are being developed.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research ATHENA Expert group launched 
Organisation Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Leadership of an Expert group by Wadham on Advancing TecHnologies for Exploration in Antarctica (ATHENA) - international collaboration with several countries linked to NERC-funded research
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration
Impact Publication of a Special Issue of Annals of Glaciology on Advancing Technologies for Exploration in Antartica, input to the SCAR Code of Conduct for future exploration of subglacial environments (link to policy)
Start Year 2010
 
Description Technology Development 
Organisation Unisense
Country Denmark 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration, use of technology
Collaborator Contribution Technology development and adaptation
Impact None as yet, early stage
Start Year 2011
 
Description Technology application in Antarctica 
Organisation British Antarctic Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of sensors and instrumentation for potential deployment via the BEAMISH programme
Collaborator Contribution input to technology development
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2010
 
Description Technology application in Antarctica 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Delivery of technology for future subglacial lake exploration
Collaborator Contribution deployment opportunities for technology deployment
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2010
 
Description Technology application in Antarctica 
Organisation Montana State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of sensors and instrumentation for deployment in Antarctica, participation in a field season (McMurdo Dry Valleys)
Collaborator Contribution Logistcial and science support
Impact Bagshaw, E.A., M. Tranter, J.L. Wadham, A. Fountain, M. Mowlem. 2011. High resolution monitoring reveals dissolved oxygen dynamics in an Antarctic cryoconite hole, Hydrological Processes, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.8049. Bagshaw, E. A., M. Tranter, A.G. Fountain, H. Basagic, J.L. Wadham. 2010. Dynamic behaviour of supraglacial lakes on cold polar glaciers: Canada Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, Journal of Glaciology, 56, 196, 366-368
Start Year 2010
 
Description Blog (Jon Hawkings PhD student) - during time at Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron science facility 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact ongoing

ongoing, very recent
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://blog.eag.eu.com/general/beamline-i08/
 
Description Co-organised a CIWEM (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) event at the University of Bristol entitled "Climate change impacts on the cryosphere - chemical and physical" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Follow up correspondence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Cornerstone Film for Thermofisher Scientific 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Thermofisher Scientific commissioned a short film on the use of Ion Chromatography in cryospheric sciences. This film will go live in 2016 and will result in follow on funding from the company. Please see link to the film on Jemma Wadham's Research Home Pages (see link below)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/geography/people/jemma-l-wadham/research.html
 
Description Invited research seminar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Wadham invited to give a research seminar at WHOI, based upon her work on Greenland biogeochemistry and sensor development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Keynote at European Geophysical Union Meeting (Vienna) by Wadham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Wadham was invited to give a keynote presentation about her sensor development work via several NERC funded projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Organisation of a workshop - Sensor data collection and management in freshwater systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact new collaborations

NERC impact accelerator funding (See follow-one funding)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Research Seminars - National University of Singapore, Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Follow up correspondence and requests for further info have been made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Science presentations at 7 international schools in Hong Kong and China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Email follow up has happened. Further information has been requested.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Sensors in Water Group, Dorset, UK, Mar 2015: Presentation to industry and academia on 'New technologies for catchment monitoring', including DELVE sensors. We ran a hands-on sensor demonstration stand 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Follow up correspondance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Short films made of fieldwork and disseminated via YouTube, and live blog of fieldwork activities via twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We launched a twitter campaign linked to fieldwork on the NERC DELVE project, currently 73 followers. YouTube videos also aired live - 400 views. https://twitter.com/cryodelve
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DShcPHuFxmI
 
Description Sixth Form Science Café, Castle School Thornbury, Bristol, Nov 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The purpose to was to engage schools groups in science and technology in ice sheets. Follow up correspondence has happened.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Subglacial processes early career training workshop, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Apr 2014: Talk on New technologies for subglacial investigation; Biogeochemistry of subglacial environments 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Follow up correspondence
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Talks at schools (Schools STEM outreach day, 5th July, Bristol Oasis Marksbury Rd, 30th January by Liz Bagshaw) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Liz Bagshaw, former PDRA on two sensor-focussed research grants, gave talks at local schools in Bristol and Cardiff.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description UoB Bristol Glaciology Centre outreach at Room 13 Hareclive (Bristol Ice Explorers) - Jon Hawkings (PhD student), Professor Martyn Tranter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact sparked lots of discussion

An art competition for the local school children was launched, focussed on glacial environments
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.room13hareclive.org.uk/news