14-19 June

Alix arrived on 13 June and so the next day we headed back into Fardalen hoping that we would find some water. Although there was still quite a lot of snow there had been enough melting that the streams had started to cut down through the snow pack so that when we arrived the bottom of the streams was actually ice and over the week, the streams cut deeper and deeper until in places we could see the rocks at the bottom. This made crossing the streams a bit problematic since the snowbanks at the sides of the stream were liable to collapse and jumping with snowshoes on isn’t so easy.

Despite the streams being predominantly snow-melt there was still a clear difference in the sediment load and alkalinty (the only chemical parameter that is measured directly in the field) between the glaciated and the non-glaciated stream. I found this quite surprising. We managed 6 days of water sampling, alternating between the two streams each day. We would sample in the morning and then spend the rest of the day filtering the collected water for the various chemical and isotopic analyses which will be performed on these samples later. Unfortunately we were unable to install the instruments to measure discharge automatically since there was still too much snow and the channel shape would change too much as the snow continued to melt. However, we did measure discharge each day when the samples were taken using salt as a tracer.

We walked back out to Longyearbyen through lots of slushy snow on the 19th and so ended the first field period. Not as many samples as expected but we still had a very successful last week. Predicting what the snow-conditions would be like in spring when booking flights in winter was never going to be easy…