Greenland Ice
Microbiome Project

Welcome! From here you can track daily expedition progress on the map or @cryomics, and find more photos, videos, and stories on the blog.

2014 Timeline

University of Alaska Fairbanks

64.859°N, 147.847°W

The Greenland Ice Microbiome Project's 2014 expedition will take advantage of opportunistic sampling on both coasts of Greenland and utilize human power to cross the Greenland Ice Sheet on skis, collecting data and samples along the way. The aim of this project is to use new advances in next-generation DNA sequencing to probe the diversity and functionality of cold-adapted microbes -- the most diverse inhabitants of Greenland from coast to coast.

Leg 1: March 10--29.
Nuuk, Greenland

64.175°N, 51.738°W

The first leg of the expedition will be based in Nuuk, Greenland at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR), through collaborations with Jody Deming and Søren Rysgaard and is partially funded by the National Science Foundation.


Samples of seawater, sea ice, and snow will be collected in Kobbefjord and returned to UAF for analysis. In addition to microbiome analysis by 16S and 18S metabarcoding, we'll also collect samples to measure bacterial abundance, EPS concentration, and nutrient concentrations. Broader goals of this segment of the expedition are to study the interactions between bacteria and algae in ice by way of compatible solutes, which are chemicals that microbes use to protect themselves from salt stress.

Leg 2: March 29--April 12.
Kulusuk, East Greenland

65.575°N, 37.183°W

The next leg of the expedition will be based out of Kulusuk, East Greenland. During a two week human powered sampling trip to the fjords surrounding Kulusuk (led by Dave Grant at Pirhuk Greenland Expedition Specialists), samples of seawater, sea ice, and snow will be collected for analysis of the 16S and 18S microbiome and for nutrient concentrations.

Leg 3: April 12--May 12.
Greenland traverse

This will be the most trying leg of the expedition -- the Greenland Traverse. This 540 km (335 mi) ski journey across the southern tip of Greenland will take 3 to 4 weeks at a pace of roughly 20 km (12 mi) per day. Hauling all of our own food, shelter, survival gear, and scientific sampling supplies in sledges, we will pull our way across the largest island on earth. The route we're taking, guided by Robert Thor Haraldsson (Icelandic Mountain Guides) , crosses the Arctic Circle at an elevation of roughly 2000 m (6500 ft) en route from Kulusuk in the East to Kangerlussuaq in the West.


At camp each night, snow pits will be excavated to look at the stratigraphy of the snow cover, after which samples will be collected for analyses of microbial diversity, ion content, oxygen isotopes, and black carbon. These tracers reveal where the particles in the snow originated from and give a clue as to their fate -- melted and flushed from the ablation zone, or buried under more snow in the accumulation zone.

Leg 4: June 10--July 3.
Daneborg, Greenland High Arctic

74.3°N, 20.233°W

The last leg of the expedition will take place in Young Sound at the Daneborg Research Station, again in collaboration with the GINR. An intensive field season will find sea ice physicists, atmospheric scientists, chemical oceanographers, and biologists working together to understand the dynamics of sea ice in a High Arctic fjord system. The goal is to try and understand the system well enough to predict how it will change in a warming climate, especially as it relates to fluxes of carbon dioxide into and out of the coupled ice/ocean system. Here we'll measure microbial diversity and abundance over time in sea ice and melt ponds that have been amended with nutrients to stimulate the communities as a simulation of future conditions.