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Current Projects


  The Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerluasuaq, West Greenland.









 The LC MS/MS in the new ASET laboratory








Beacon Valley and its rock glacier, Antarctica.

Greenland Ice Sheet Geomicrobiology 
Increasing melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will enhance meltwater runoff to the oceans. This project investigates the effect of subglacial microbes on subglacial weathering and associated flux of micronutrients and carbon to the ocean. We will investigate the effect of bedrock geochemistry on microbial diversity and their contribution to rock weathering using classical geochemistry and isotope geochemistry in combination with microbiological studies such as DNA/RNA sequencing. The project is in collaboration with researcher at University of Washington, Seattle (Karen Junge APL, Ronald S. Sletten ESS) and University of Lousiana (Brent Christner). The field study will be carried out in Thule (2011/2013) and Kangerlussuaq (2012/2013).  
Enhancing Research and Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage with a Liquid  Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer
Major Instrumentation Research grant from the NSF Project (PI Birgit Hagedorn) was recieved in 2008 to maintain and expand the research and educational programs at UAA and other UA campuses. A high performance liquid charomatorgraph coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer (LC MS/MS) and to an IonTrap (LC IonTrap) was purchased. Both instruments are sensitive for a variety of organic and inorganic compounds and used to identify and quantify compounds in complex, non-volatile matrices. Mass spectrometry provides powerful compound idntification and quantification based on the masses of various fragments as well as for determining the molecular weight of the compounds in complex mixtures such as lipids, persistent organic pollutants, and tannins. In addition the mass spectrometer can be coupled to an ion chromatograph to analyze low levels of perchlorate. The instruments are ideal for many applications as they provide differet modes of ionization with a sensitivity of 250 femtograms over a wide range (m/z 50-2200). The instruments are hosted in the Applied Science, Engineering, and Technology (ASET) laboratory at UAA. and are used for research in Biology, Biogeochemistry, Chemsitry, Ecology, Geology and Engineering as well as  in the "Instrumental Method" class.
"Ground ice dynamics in hyperarrid soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica"
This NSF project is lead by Ronald Sletten and Bernard Hallet University of Washington, Seattle. It investigates the chemical and physical charcteristics of soil and permafrost in the McMurdo Dry Valleys  Antarctica to understand ground ice formation and stability and evaluate paleoenvironmental information stored in the ice itself.
Subsurface ice within the top decimeters of Dry Valley soils as old as 1 to several million years is enigmatic since current process-based models indicate it should sublimate to several meters depth withn several thousand years. Ground ice merits attention as it is fundamental to diverse periglacial landscape processes, including pattern ground activity and mass movement, and it is a potential source of water, a key ingredient for life in Antarctica and also on Mars. Existing numerical models of ice formation and stability are lacking some details. In addition water transport, phase change, and  salt mobility are all strongly coupled and yet they are treated individually in current icy soil models. To trace solute and water transport in these complex atmosphere - soil - salt - ice system, we utilize isotopes of water (O, H) and strontium, well understood isotope systems that have been proven to be powerful tools in diverse and surficial process studies. Understanding the processes and properties controlling the formation, evolution, and persistence of ground ice has implications well beyond the Dry Valleys. Notably the Dry valleys are the best terrestrial analog of the  Martian environment.  If you are interested to learn about our field expeditions please visit our blog at: