Cold Ice in a Warm Bath

July 2022 GLRETA Arctic Fieldwork Report

We had planned to arrive in the Arctic in the narrow window between Kas’ proglacial lake becoming ice free and the first warm event of the summer, so that we could measure the lake temperatures as they changed as the summer progressed. Unfortunately summer was already well underway as the first real warm event of the season occurred before we arrived, which also seemed to bring numerous mosquitoes with it. In previous trips I had not encountered mosquitoes at our base camp 1000m up in the Arctic/Alpine environment of the Kebnekaise mountains in Sweden. They were not the only signs of warming in the landscape, as our first night trying to sleep in 24 hour daylight (tricky in a tent) was further disturbed by a couple of rather large rockfalls from the surrounding mountains.

Transferring a lot of 20kg bags of equipment between trains… photo. A. Dye
Mike B. and Miles D. setting up the automated weather station underneath the careful watch of mosquitoes at basecamp. Photo A. Dye.

After a somewhat ‘testing’ journey with a substantial amount of baggage, we still had enough energy to scramble over the moraines and see how the glacier front had changed since I saw it 3 years ago. The usual moments of ‘bittersweet’ emotions as the scientist keen to understand a dynamic environment, whilst the environmentalist in me didn’t want to see how much the glacier had retreated. The moraines and environment around the glacier did seem greener, with areas of bare sand now mostly moss covered as well as grass and small Willows becoming more established on the moraines, which also made the going much easier underfoot. The stabilisation of the moraine from vegetation was certainly appreciated and enabled good view points to be accessed more easily.


Mike undertaking a handheld dSLR survey of Kas’ glaciar to create a digital surface model from Structure from Motion. Photo A. Dye

The glacier front had changed quite substantially since I last saw it in September 2019, the large cave in the centre had gone and the majority of the front was less steep, with rounded features that suggested melt processes above water had dominated. The absence of any angular ‘fresh’ cavities on the front confirmed that we had arrived before any icebergs had calved this summer. The large thermally eroded notch running across the full length, suggested that it would not be too long before iceberg calving began… Prominent crevasses behind the central section of the front suggested that a substantial block was waiting to calve from the front, so boaty II was deployed a ‘relatively’ safe distance (20m) away and recorded near surface temperatures of 3 C and a maximum depth of 20m at the ice front, much warmer than I had expected for early July. It was clear that the proglacial lake temperatures and influence on the glacier morphology and retreat rates needed further investigation in what appears to be another eventful third field season.

Boaty II conducting surveys of Kas’ glaciar front July 2022, Arctic Sweden. Photo A. Dye
Boaty II conducting surveys at Kas’ glaciar, Sweden. Photo A. Dye

Working on proglacial lakes can be ‘rather challenging’ most of the time, but occasionally you are gifted with weather windows when it’s ‘all systems go’ in order to get as much data as possible. There was no time for resting after the journey and repeated load hauling (shifting 100kg of baggage through 5 coaches of a busy train isn’t fun) as we installed time lapse cameras, weather station and calibrated thermistors before readying the inflatable kayak for launch. The cold (6 C) cloudy morning morphed into a relatively sunny afternoon and changing into a wetsuit by the side of a cold sediment filled glacial lake in the Arctic was starting to seem less of a crazy idea. Once we’d got our main temperature string installed (with a robust marine buoy…) it even started to seem like a good idea, which may come off if it survives a summer season of icebergs bombarding it and hopefully captures the lake response to whatever summer 2022 throws at it… We paddled on towards the glacier and dropped another thermistor string as close to the front as we dared risk with the impending iceberg blocks waiting to calve about 100m away. It was a relief to be heading away from the glacier and it almost felt pleasant as we drifted away to safety and managed to get another thermistor string stuck in the rocks at the far end of the lake.

Installing thermistor strings on a buoy in the middle of a lake in the Arctic (July 2022). Photo A.Dye

We returned to the glacier front the following day and whilst Miles mapped the lake bathymetry in front of the glacier, Mike dropped some fluorescein dye into streams on top of the glacier. It seemed inevitable that Dr Dye had to use dye tracing at some point, but also proved to be very useful in seeing how meltwater enters the lake and drives currents along the glacier front, which further enhance the thermal undercutting and iceberg calving rates. We also discovered meltwater upwelling in the glacier up to ~5m above the lake level. Why was meltwater being pushed up this high? How would this affect the glacier front? What would happen when rainfall events pumped water through the system? As I typed this it was 3 C and raining/sleating heavily outside. I wouldn’t like to predict what the summer season will bring for Kas’ glaciar this year. It seems pretty crazy that we are now preparing to leave the Arctic and return to temperatures over 30 C in the UK… Hopefully the heatwaves won’t happen in the Arctic this year… We’ll find out how Kas’ glaciar has changed later in the summer and compare the surface changes to other glaciers in the neighbouring area. Watch this space!

Harnessing increased environmental awareness for good – a guest blogpost by Dr Vera Jones

Dr Vera Jones (Associate Director & Water Quality Technical Authority at Atkins | Empower Network co-lead), a regular guest lecturer for our postgraduate courses (MSc in Environmental Management and MSc in Ecology and Conservation), originally published this opinion piece in Atkins Flood & Coast 2022 Thoughts Leadership magazine. It was recently given even wider readership on linkedin and is reproduced in full below.

“Over the past few years – and particularly during the pandemic – many of us have developed an acute awareness of the environment and come to appreciate the benefits of the natural world for our mental and physical health. As a result, we have collectively developed an understanding of the need to take better care of it. This heightened focus on the environment encompasses an increased interest in water quality: the importance of clean blue spaces in terms of social value, as meeting places for our communities, and key drivers for improving our wellbeing. 

“The quality of our water is something many of us take for granted – we drink it, bathe in it, and swim in it without a second thought. While in the UK we are in a privileged position to correctly assume our drinking water is safe, recent media coverage has highlighted that our rivers and coastal waters are not always as clean as we would like them to be [1]. We have been reminded that storm water combined with sewage sometimes spills into watercourses to prevent the sewerage system from being overwhelmed; a fact that has drawn our attention to the fragility of our water environment in an increasingly populated planet. The water industry is rightly carrying out significant investment across the UK to reduce such spills, while also developing ever-more sophisticated systems to monitor spills and keep the public informed on river and coastal water quality. In parallel, we need to continue to raise awareness of the safety of existing processes and all do our best to protect the quality of our water environment – from ensuring our beaches remain clean to making sure sewage pipe misconnections are reported and corrected.

“Increased public interest in water quality also presents a good opportunity to rekindle the discussion around antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which has been declared by the World Health Organisation as a ‘global health and development threat’ [2]. Although work in this field is still ongoing, sewage could be a potential source of AMR in the water environment, and a number of studies have highlighted the potential for AMR exposure in coastal waters [3]. AMR in the environment is a key topic that requires further exploration and data collection to better assess risks and investigate mitigation strategies.

“The pandemic also shone a light on the resilience of our water and wastewater infrastructure, at a time when enormous shifts in population movement and lifestyle occurred in a short space of time. Not only did our water and sewerage system withstand these changes without any significant hitches; it also served as an important vessel for monitoring Covid-19 hotspots and transmission through a government-led wastewater monitoring programme [4]. This showed just how powerful coordinated and intelligent water quality monitoring and analysis could be, and revealed vast potential to understand and tackle a multitude of issues with the support of investment and cross-industry collaboration. Capitalising on our pandemic experience, expanding our existing water quality monitoring and analysis network could give us the tools to unlock a better understanding of multiple pollutants in our watercourses. 

“The fast-changing, post-pandemic world has offered us all a new perspective and the opportunity to re-evaluate priorities. We are collectively more appreciative of the importance of the environment, including good water quality – from our coastal waters to awareness of the threat of AMR, and the importance of a good water quality monitoring framework. We are now seeing significant engagement from the wider public and stakeholders across all aspects of our water environment. As environmental professionals, we need to harness this enthusiasm, bringing together the public, stakeholder organisations, the water industry and government, encouraging everyone to act to preserve our blue spaces and the value they hold – not only for our environment, but for our physical and mental wellbeing as a nation.  We have a unique opportunity to use this increased engagement with the natural world to get everyone working together and to communicate important messages that, right now, will be heard.”

[1] For example: BBC One – Panorama, The River Pollution Scandal

[2] Antimicrobial resistance (

[3] Leonard, A.F.C., Zhang, L., Balfour, A.J., Garside, R., Gaze. W.H., 2015. Human recreational exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria in coastal bathing waters. Environment International Volume 82, September 2015, Pages 92-100

[4] EMHP wastewater monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in England: 1 June to 7 February 2022 – GOV.UK (

Arctic Field Season Preview – Cold Ice in a Warm Bath

The Cold Ice in a Warm Bath (CIWB) research team (Dr. Adrian Dye, Dr. Joe Mallalieu, Dr. Fran Falcini, Mike Beckwith and Miles Dimbleby) are busy preparing for their 2022 field season in the Arctic. They work in an area of the Arctic that has recently experienced a number of unusual summer heatwaves (with monthly means >5oC above the long term average; Dye et al., 2021). The 2022 field season research will show how much proglacial lakes (at the terminus of glaciers) enhance retreat rates in their ‘Glacier and Lake Response to Extreme Temperature Anomalies’ (GLRETA) project, which has been funded by INTERACT and the Royal Geographical Society.

A series of Arctic glaciers will be surveyed (by UAV) to create digital surface models from photogrammetry (using SfM) and assess the glacier retreat that has occurred in response to the heatwaves since 2015. Crucially this will be combined with sonar surveys (from remote controlled boat) and carefully placed (to avoid icebergs!) temperature sensors to constrain subaqueous melt of Kas’ glacier in relation to proglacial lake warming during the summer. This will be the third field season that the team has spent at Kas’ glacier. If it is anywhere near as eventful as the previous two, they will capture the frequent iceberg calving events (on timelapse) and hopefully one of the longest temperature records from an Arctic proglacial lake (if icebergs don’t disrupt it too much!).

The calving front of Kaskapakte (Kas’) glaciar in Arctic Sweden (July 2019).
Boaty II conducting sonar surveys of the underwater terminus of Kas’ glaciar whilst filming ice structures by GoPro.

Dr Katy Chamberlain presenting at international conferences

Our very own Dr Katy Chamberlain recently presented volcanological research on the 2021 Cumbre Vieja eruption at La Palma at two international conferences- the annual European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting, in Vienna Austria, and the hybrid JpGU annual meeting in Japan (online).  At both conferences Dr. Chamberlain presented the research funded by the NERC urgency proposal held at Teesside University, looking at how the magmas that fed the 3 month long eruption evolved over time. The data from analysing lava and tephra samples show a clear change in how magmas evolved during the eruption which will be linked to monitoring records of the eruptive event. Alongside presenting scientific research, Katy was also a panellist at a ‘Great Debate’ at EGU, where a group of panellist discussed challenges and potential solutions for making geochemical data open and FAIR to increase their longevity and reuse in future studies. This included talking about how the OneGeochemistry initiative can be structured to ensure equitable access to geochemical data for all.

Dr Jamie Bojko’s latest publications

A series of new publications by our very own prolific Dr Jamie Bojko are presented here:

Bojko et al. 2022. Pathology and genetic connectedness of the mangrove crab (Aratus pisonii) – a foundation for understanding mangrove disease ecology.

Bojko et al. 2022. ‘Candidatus Mellornella promiscua’ n. gen. n. sp. (Alphaproteobacteria:
Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae): An intracytoplasmic, hepatopancreatic, pathogen of the flatback mud crab, Eurypanopeus depressus.

Stratton et al. 2022. Revising the Freshwater Thelohania to Astathelohania gen. et comb. nov., and Description of Two New Species.

Stratton et al. 2022. The plot thickens: Ovipleistophora diplostomuri infects two additional species of Florida crayfish.

Happy Birthday Hadrian!

This week marks the 1900th Birthday of Hadrian! Born on 24th january 76 AD in Italica, Spain, Hadrian was a Roman conquerer that lead the Romans toward entrenchment and consolidating the empire rather than ongoing expansion. And so, we’ve got a doozy of updates for you in our first post of 2022 – which we reckon will be called 202TUBA!

Revealing Magna

This week, Vindolanda was featured on BBC Breakfast showing the incredible impact of Climate Change at Fort Magna. The rapid heating and drying of climates over the past few decades have led to a drop in the ground and water levels, resulting in parts of Roman masonry becoming exposed. Vindolanda Trust produced an absolutely fantastic video to discuss this:

We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of the scientific investigation into why these changes are being observed, and the rapid destructive impact being made to the delicate artefacts that have been preserved for thousands of years. We started this work last summer, drilling bore holes in what turned out to be the hottest week of the year – and the hottest summer on record! We have never been so grateful to see a single lone tree in the field offering shade for refuge…

Digging up Memories

We’ve also been part of the Digging up Memories online exhibit (we chatted a little about this here), which saw volunteers at Vindolanda Museum select and discuss their favourite wooden artefacts. Through the online exhibit, you can find interviews, videos, behind-the-scenes information and many of our 3D models showcasing a wonderful narrative of life at Vindolanda.

Intense 3D scanning days led toward an awesome online exhibit!

We urge you to check it out and dive through the archives! You can still view them at:

Individual Milestones

As this is our first post of 2022, we thought it would be nice to have a quick look at some of the milestones achieved by the team.

We published the first work we started with Vindolanda in Scientific Reports, writing all about the chemical and microbial factors toward the vivianite formation in one of the ditches at Vindolanda. We’re thrilled to see this come out to such great reception!

Helga submitted her 31 MB thesis (plus supplementary files!) in time for a well-deserved Christmas break with baby Breki.

Rhys was awarded his doctorate in Developing pXRF soil analysis of preservation at Vindolanda, and is now Lecturer in Forensic Science. Congrats Dr Williams!

Gillian was appointed Associate Professor in Research at Teesside University where she’s already powering through the development of analytical techniques towards forensic and archaeological applications.

Becki Scott joined Teesside University and TUBA in September – we’re looking forward to driving forward provenance research with her fantatsic expertise. Look out for some of our blog posts together coming soon!

New year new me, except clearly TUBA has always been dedicated to high quality research and public engagement – we’re allowed to gloat in the conclusion, right? Until next time!


Lecturer in Geography (1 Posts)

Our Department is advertising for one permanent positions of lecturer in geography with specialism in GIS and river and coastal systems. 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

Call for Expressions of Interest in Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships

Teesside University, the School of Health and Life Science, and the Earth, Ecology and Environment research collective are welcoming expressions of interest in Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships.

The research areas of existing strength are as follows:

  • Climate change Impacts and palaeoclimate reconstruction
  • Archaeological advances in preservation and outreach
  • Sustainable agriculture and aquaculture
  • Rewilding for ecological recovery and sustainability
  • Sustainable food supply chain and environmental impact
  • Microbial biotechnology and bioremediation

Contact point for inquiries: Dr Ambroise Baker (