On my previous expeditions to New Guinea I attempted to compile a photographic record of Papua’s fast-receding glaciers to support climate change research. On Denali, and on future expeditions, I have partnered with ‘Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation’, whose primary initiative is to facilitate partnerships between adventure athletes and the researchers who need them to collect data all around the world. All of their athletes are volunteers and, like me, make the decision to become adventurer-scientists because they have a strong desire to provide decision makers with the information necessary to make proper management choices.
Together, we believe that one of the main ways to have a positive impact on natural environments is to inspire the next generation of adventurers and scientists alike.
Our Project: Microbe Collection : The critical role of biological weathering in shaping high altitude landscapes
Principal investigator: Dragos George Zaharescu
Organisation: Biosphere-2, University of Arizona
Microorganisms are unique colonizers of Earth’s boundaries, such as mountain top surfaces, where they are primary actors in the biogeochemical cycles of nutrients. Together with climatic forces they contribute substantially to the overall function of the mountain landscape, with effects far reaching in the wider biosphere. Measuring how microbial ecosystems interact with primary bedrock at these sites is important for both the mechanistic understanding of initial phases of element cycling, and their response to environmental changes. The overall goal of this research is to quantify the bio-transformation of primary bedrock in the upper limits
of the mountain biome. Knowledge of this process is likely to reveal vital clues about the evolution of microbes-rock interaction in these environments. Secondly, this activity equally allows explorers, scientists and society to gain unique insights into the functioning of such remote places, which will ultimately help in their conservation efforts.
I will collect small-size rock samples, of about 50g each, from exposed bedrock on elevation gradients at sites 200 m altitude apart during the descent phase of my expedition. I will collect a total of 3-5 rock samples at each altitude. Samples will be taken in plastic bags with a minimum amount of soil and shipped to the laboratory for further analyses. I will also record local landscape and weather condition iin the field, together with sampling site geographical coordinates.
I firmly believe that expeditions should not just be about the selfish pursuit of individual happiness. I recognise that my personal ambitions create opportunites for researchers to access remote areas so I’m happy to support this important research.