Dusty hits the town

Most of the work on the Dusty project to date has focused on environmental science aspects. But we wanted to know how dust affects the 538 residents in the town of Kangerlussuaq. Located right at the head of the fjord, the town is located next to the sandur plains caused by deposition of glacial silts.

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Photo of the sandur plains (James Shilland)

We wanted to find out what local people think about dust. Whether it impacts their health and behaviour. What they know about where the dust derives from, and whether they perceive changes in the frequency and intensity of dust storms. So, we packed away the rucksacks and got out our clipboards, to survey local residents.


Suzanne, Albrekt and Amanda getting ready for a hard day of clipboarding

Anticipating some difficulties with translation, we enlisted the help of Albrekt Wille, a local Greenlander who is fluent in Danish and English as well as (of course) Greenlandic. As it turned out the language posed fewer problems that we anticipated with many local residents speaking all three languages.

We set up a survey station in the local Minimart for the first day, assisted by with cookies freshly-baked by Amanda as an incentive to persuade people to participate.

Two following days were spent visiting local businesses including the Airport Authority, Air Greenland, local shops, the museum, local hotels and the police station to identify residents who had spent a range of time living in Kangerlussuaq.

Of course it was thirsty work visiting all of these places.

Back in Nottingham we will be working with Nick Clare from the School of Geography and Benedict Watling, an undergraduate on our Q Step programme to analyse the results from the questionnaire survey.


Back for more: Dust and lake sampling + Pelagic Bioassays!

Clay Prater on the spring sampling for the Dusty project

The spring field season in Greenland kicked off with plenty to do. Rebecca and Clay came up early to set up the lab and collect dust samples. It was a good idea to begin with dust sampling as we saw snow cover on some of the lakes flying in and the ice-free season seemed to lag behind a couple of weeks compared to last year.


As you might expect, the winter winds (and possibly some hunters) can play havoc on our dust sampling equipment, so we spent a bit of time mending our traps while sampling dust at each lake. Rebecca’s knot tying skills were especially handy here!

After the dust sampling, we were joined by two veteran volunteers James Shilland and Maddy Giles for the lake work. With their help, we collected water quality and biological samples across our focal study lakes.

We also brought back water from each lake to setup dust bioassays to see how nutrient additions from dust influence microbial production.

One day while working we were lucky enough to get treated to a proper Kangerlussuaq dust storm . After seeing thick clouds blanket the valley, it’s not hard to imagine the importance of dust inputs into lakes in this region.

Towards the end of the trip, we were joined by Bror Holmgren from who helped finish up last-minute field work and take down the bioassays. Luckily, he didn’t hold it against us that England knocked his Swedish team of the World Cup!

Overall, our campaign was a lot of fun and we collected some important data. Now we will rest and recharge before heading back out in August.