New Publication: Proglacial lake expansion and glacier retreat in Arctic Sweden

Dr Adrian Dye (Lecturer in Environmental Science, Teesside University) and colleagues report an increase in proglacial lakes in Arctic Sweden as glaciers have retreated. These lakes have grown in size and extent over time, which now form an important store of water (previously unmapped) in mountainous catchments. Some lakes have also enhanced glacier retreat rates… Glacial lakes in the southern region (Sarek) are significantly smaller than those in the northern region (Kebnekaise), so it cannot be assumed that glacial lakes will develop uniformly across an area. More work needs to be done to predict where proglacial lakes are likely to form, particularly where populations currently depend on glaciers for water resources.

Access the publication through the publishers website with this link.

1 kilometre under the surface: Researching organisms from extreme environment

MSc Microbiology students Orakan Jones and Nathalia Thompson with Drs Paul Dean and Jens Holtvoeth collected brines for extremophile research 1,000m below the surface in the Boulby salt mine.

In October, a team from Teesside University took part in the 10th annual field event on astrobiology, robotics, and planetary exploration (MINAR X), organised by the UKRI Underground Laboratory at the ICL salt mine at Boulby. Dr Jens Holtvoeth was joined by Dr Paul Dean and two microbiology MSc students, Orakan Jones and Nathalia Thompson to travel 1.000 meters down the shaft and underneath the North Sea, together with scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh, York, Manchester, and Newcastle, the California Institute of Technology, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena).

The aim of our team was to collect samples of salt and brine for biomarker and DNA analyses to produce a geochemical fingerprint of fossil and living microbial communities and to gain information on cellular adaptation mechanisms of halophile microorganisms to the extreme conditions. This will help to interpret fossil biomarker distributions found in the salt with regard to environmental conditions at the fringes of the evaporating Zechstein Sea about 250 million years ago.

While the team were able to collect brines from a disused part of the mine, aptly named Billingham Bath, the collection of salt samples by coring the salt with sterilised drill bits had to be postponed due to a technical fault of the corer. Thus, the team is looking forward to going down the shaft later this semester, again.

Partnering with Durham Wildlife Trust to address microplastics pollution in the River Wear

An update on a previous blog post about our microplastic project in Co Durham, UK.

Environment Group researchers Drs Baldini, Baker, He, Rollason and Scott, along with recent Environmental Science graduate, Zhuhaa Siddiq, recently partnered with Durham Wildlife Trust to investigate microplastics in the River Wear. Fieldwork happened over several weeks in late summer 2021 and involved standing in the river with a microplankton net and flow meter for 20 minutes to collect a known volume of river water for microplastics detection. We sampled water and sediments at five locations along the river Wear from the source (near Wearhead) to the tidal limit (Chester-le-Street). Laboratory analysis revealed a pattern of increasing microplastics in river water downstream from the source until river flow was altered by Durham city weirs. A sharp decrease in microplastics was observed at the furthest downstream site, Chester-le-Street. In sediments, there was a clear pattern of microplastics accumulation downstream of wastewater treatment plants. In summer 2022, Environmental Management research project student, Patrick van Loo Jenner, investigated our hypothesis of microplastics accumulation upstream of weirs in Durham as a precursor to scheduled dredging by the Environment Agency. In March 2022, Dr Baldini presented preliminary findings to a Source to Sea workshop addressing plastics pollution at Durham County Council and in July 2022, submitted a final report to Durham Wildlife Trust. A manuscript of our findings is currently in prep. For more on this successful Teesside University collaboration with local partners see

Collaboration with INCA about Tees Seals

This press release was picked up by several local media:

LIMES 2022 – Nijmegen

What an amazing week attending the LIMES Congress in Nijmegen. This was my first LIMES congress, so not sure what to expect.. so here is a run down of the events and my thoughts.

Day 1 – so many talks, in so many different rooms, what an outstanding start.. so many free books, I had to rethink my packing and this was day one! One of my highlights was seeing ‘The missing dead’ session about reconstructing the past through digital games play at Roman Vindolanda. I will be bias as a Vindolanda Trustee member but the future thinking was a great talking point with the audience.

Day 2 – first day trip… and I mean all day 7.30 start and back at 8pm… but what a day, when walking round the archaeological sites, Roman Castellum, Meinerswijk, Military practice camps, Uedem and Xanten-Furstenberg, before heading to LVR Archaologischen park Xanten, at the end of the day, the exquisite and beautiful museum was just awe inspiring.


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Day 3 – The day I had been waiting for, which included the organic riches session… and it didn’t disappoint, chaired by Carol Van Driel-Murray and speakers including Beth Green showed the importance of understanding our artefacts, the discussion came to end with a query about impacts of climate change upon these artefacts, exactly at the right time for us to say a comment about our climate change work at the Roman site of Magna.

There was an evening visit to Valkhof museum, with of course some special LIMES beer

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Day 4 – second day trip and this was an absolute highlight for me, the Roman Ship at Castellum Hoge Woerd ‘De Meern 1’  and the wonderful world of Archeon Museum park,  walking through from Mesolithic to the Romans and everything in-between. The hospitality was spectacular, and a delicious BBQ to finish the day. Have to mention the heat, at 34o°C… finding shade and heading inside as often as possible was the order of the day.

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Day 5 – Its not the end of the week for us, Fridays talk started with churches in military outposts and a very full session with a talk from CEO Vindolanda Trust – Dr Andrew Birley.

Day 6 – yip still going and it is Saturday, lots of bright early starters to attend the Feeding the Frontier talks, followed by Roman Britian led by Tanja Romankiewicz, as David Breeze said during questions, ‘exceptional’ talk from Tanja – military construction strategies on the Limes: new insights from geoarcheology.

If I didn’t mention your talk, sorry, so much to see, so many pancakes to eat..

Roll on Georgia, what an inclusive, friendly and engaging series of talks and events

Cold Ice in a Warm Windy Bath – Report from a Field Season in the Arctic

The GLRETA project captures changes in one of the most dynamic parts of an Arctic mountain environment, by measuring lake temperatures in front of a glacier (proglacial) and the regularity of iceberg calving events (monitored by time lapse cameras) driven by thermal undercutting of the glacier terminus. This has proved to be a challenging environment to undertake field work in, as we have to regularly adapt plans to collect data when the weather windows arrive and hope that icebergs don’t wipe out our temperature sensors in the meantime.

Boaty conducting sonar scan and temperature survey along Kaskasapakte proglacial lake. Aug 2022. Photo; A. Dye

The Arctic summer weather can be very variable in Scandinavia and this year has been no exception. The boulder ‘reinforcements’ of our weather station proved to be successful as it survived the 135 km/h wind gusts largely intact. Sadly our base camp tent didn’t fare so well over the summer and also incurred some substantial damage to the door from some passing fauna. On discovering this at the start of trip 2 we realised that scientific objectives had to be postponed as fixing the tent up before the bad weather arrived was ‘rather critical’. Thankfully after 3 days of floods and high winds we were able to forget about base camp maintenance and get back on with the science.

Flooding wiped out our food storage point and nearly flooded our tent on 2 occasions. 60mm of rain in 12 hours is rather a lot! Photo; A. Dye

Mercifully we were presented with one of the best weather days I can remember in the Arctic and promptly set about compressing 3 days into one rather long one. First on the agenda was a dSLR camera survey to create a digital surface model of the glacier, to calculate how much the ice has lowered from melting during the summer and how much ice has been calved off in icebergs. The glacier front had changed a lot between our visits over the summer, as about 5m wide strip of ice had been calved off across the terminus and the crevasses behind it had widened substantially. Thankfully our time lapse cameras caught these iceberg calving events, along with the changing lake conditions during the summer. Our inflatable kayak mission was successful in retrieving the key lake temperature data sets, which had risen to a maximum of 4oC in late July before steadily cooling from late August. This will provide an important record for understanding how lake conditions and temperature correspond to iceberg calving events, combined with sonar scans of the terminus to understand how the underwater ice front geometry promotes calving.

GoPro image along Norra Kaskasapakte calving front. Note the large thermally eroded notch at the weaterline. Photo; A Dye.

The recent warm events in Arctic Scandinavia will have enhanced melting of glaciers in the area during the heatwave events, which are predicted to become more frequent with climate change. So we have also been creating digital surface models of other glaciers in the area, to assess how much surface lowering has occurred on these land terminating glaciers. We can then compare the surface lowering of land terminating glaciers to the lake terminating glacier, to assess how they are all responding to recent warm events. We also want to greater understand how contact with a proglacial lake can enhance glacier retreat too and how they are likely to respond to future changes in climate.

Norra Kaskasapakte glaciar, August 2022. Photo; A.Dye

Lecturer in Environmental Sciences (1 post)

Our Department is advertising for one permanent position of lecturer in environmental science. The newly appointed lecturer has an opportunity to take a leading role in our Earth, Ecology and Environment research collective and bring their own research and/or consultancy expertise.

The job ad can be found following the two links below:

Teesside HR

If you would like to discuss how your research could fit within the Earth, Ecology and Environment research collective – please get in touch with Ambroise

Outreach… Lovely day in the sun

As academics we are good at standing up and talking about our topics, often in a lecture theatre, following a schedule so the students know what we are taking about and know the science behind it.

However, when it comes to public outreach,  you can be faced with an unknown audience, who are not familiar with every detail, which can put you out of your comfort zone.. so why should I be encouraging you to do it and reasons to do outreach sessions.

Here are my 5 top reasons:-

  1. To introduce science to a young or older audience in a meaningful way – recently I spoke to a allotment group about our work at Magna, relating what we are seeing to soil chemistry to what plants they were growing!
  2. Use your audience – you will meet fascinating people doing outreach, whom have a wealth of experience, listen and learn
  3. Use data but don’t simplified explain the facts – science data can sometimes be impenetrable.. the public love data but it must be explain in a meaningful way, also think, why does this matter to them.
  4. Professional development – i have learnt so much about why i do and what i do from engaging in public talks – someone once asked me what drives me and the answer for me is simple, i love learning new things, figuring out problems.. i have not lost that passion for walking into the science in over 20 years and don’t see that stopping anytime soon.
  5. Energised – It is an absolute pleasure being able to talk about your subject and engage, getting others excited but also feeling as even if just a little bit, you have made a difference.

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Over the next few weeks, we are off to LIMES  and EAA, with some museums and adventures on the way, so stayed tuned for updates.

TUBA on the Tube! BBC Countryfile Meets Archaeology

If you’re interested in people, places and stories making news in the British countryside, and appreciate a bit of good BBC programming, then we’re sure you’d love to catch the next episode of Countryfile, tonight at 8pm, 7th August, BBC Two. We’re particularly excited for this episode because it features a strong segment of excavations and climate research at Vindolanda and Fort Magna, including some of the chemical and microbial analysis we’ve been undertaking!

Talking through some of the many scientific experiments on the go!

Why is our science research so important to old, buried fields? Well, Fort Magna is next to a substantial bog with conditions similar to the excellent preservation seen at Vindolanda. However, the gradual impact of climate change has resulted in a significant reduction of the preserving bog due to the soils drying out. Consequently, the bogs are compacting on themselves, crushing the archaeology within. You can see this clearly in drone footage, where the top of a Roman well is now exposed above the ground. This is now occurring at an alarming pace due to the rapid increase in global warming and climate change, endangering the history beneath our feet.

And so, TUBA’s role here is to conduct ongoing surveys into the soil across the site, looking at the past, current and potential future of the burial conditions; are we maintaining an anaerobic and slightly acidic environment? Are the areas of Roman occupations still kept within waterlogged conditions? Is the microbial profile remaining unchanged and non-degenerative? How far out does the site go, and how close to the edge of the bog does it reach? Using a combination of chemical and microbial analyses with the multidisciplinary team at  TUBA will shed some light on these questions and help answer some key questions in the maintenance and management of British heritage.

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We hope you get a chance to catch the episode – we had so much fun and were proud to take part in this filming for Countryfile alongside Vindolanda!


Researcher Live Event

I have just finished my first podcast! I must admit I was slightly nervous, just me in my office talking to a screen.. but i think with covid restrictions and how we delivered lectures, it was all fine as we are all practiced in this format, so fine infact I got to deliver this podcast with my slippers on!

I created the title months ago.. “Determining mass, why it is important and why it matters”, to be frank i wasn’t sure what to include and in the end had many many slides, I think I wanted to draw attention to our great archaeology work but also to the great work done within the field.. and err that is alot in 1 hr!

If you want to listen… here is the link: Determing mass, why it is important and why it matters? – Researcher (

So what did I learn form my first podcast

  1. Be comfortable
  2. Even if you go off on tangents, that is what podcasts are about, but bring it back to the facts
  3. Don’t prepare too many slides!
  4. KEEP to time… I did, but I forgot to leave enough time for questions overrun by 4 minutes!
  5. Just do it