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Unit information: Cryosphere 4 in 2016/17

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Unit name Cryosphere 4
Unit code GEOGM1101
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Tranter
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit introduces the fundamentals a geochemical water speciation models, PHREEQCI, and applies it to current water quality research problems in glacial and non-glacial environments.

Statement of unit aims • To critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of PHREEQCI in forward modelling of chemical weathering schema • To critically evaluate associations between different chemical weathering reactions and consequent parameters such as pH, pCO2 and SI • To be able to construct plausible forward chemical weathering schema .

Aims: Develop an appreciation of the range of information available from the analysis of an area’s glacial geomorphology. Critically evaluate the role of dynamics in the response of ice sheets to contemporary climate change. Understand the use of mathematical models in simulating the dynamics of ice sheets.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: • to be able to critically assess the glacial chemical weathering literature • to be able to run and critically evaluate output from PHREEQCI, and Windows-based graphical user interface to the geochemical computer program PHREEQC. • to be able to construct and forward model a plausible subglacial weathering schema

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

• Report writing • numeracy, • conceptualisation, • lateral thinking, • water quality modelling, • critical analysis • research techniques.

Teaching details

Lectures, seminars, computer practicals

Assessment Details

Subglacial Weathering practical reports 40% Subglacial Weathering Model (3000 words) 60%

Reading and References

Raiswell, R., Benning, L.G., Davidson, L., Tranter, M., and Tulaczyk, S., 2009, Schwertmannite in wet, acid, and oxic microenvironments beneath polar and polythermal glaciers: Geology, v. 37, p. 431-434. Sharp, M., Parkes, J., Cragg, B., Fairchild, I.J., Lamb, H., and Tranter, M., 1999, Widespread bacterial populations at glacier beds and their relationship to rock weathering and carbon cycling: Geology, v. 27, p. 107-110. Skidmore, M.L., Tranter, M., Tulaczyk, S., and Lanoil, B., 2010, Hydrochemistry of ice stream beds - evaporitic or microbial effects?: Hydrological Processes, v. 24, p. 517-523. Tranter, M., Fountain, A.G., Fritsen, C.H., Lyons, W.B., Priscu, J.C., Statham, P.J., and Welch, K.A., 2004, Extreme hydrochemical conditions in natural microcosms entombed within Antarctic ice: Hydrological Processes, v. 18, p. 379-387. Tranter, M., M. J. Sharp, H. R. Lamb, G. H. Brown, B. P. Hubbard, and I. C. Willis, 2002, Geochemical weathering at the bed of Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland - a new model: Hydrological Processes, v. 16, p. 959-993. Wadham, J.L., Tranter, M., and Dowdeswell, J.A., 2000, Hydrochemistry of meltwaters draining a polythermal-based, high-Arctic glacier, south Svalbard: II. Winter and early Spring: Hydrological Processes, v. 14, p. 1767-1786. Wadham, J.L., Tranter, M., Skidmore, M., Hodson, A.J., Priscu, J., Lyons, W.B., Sharp, M., Wynn, P., and Jackson, M., 2010, Biogeochemical weathering under ice: Size matters: Global Biogeochem. Cycles, v. 24, p. GB3025. Wadham, J.L., Tranter, M., Tulaczyk, S., and Sharp, M., 2008, Subglacial methanogenesis: A potential climatic amplifier?: Global Biogeochem. Cycles, v. 22, p. 10.1029/2007gb002951. Yde, J.C., Riger-Kusk, M., Christiansen, H.H., Knudsen, N.T., and Humlum, O., 2008, Hydrochemical characteristics of bulk meltwater from an entire ablation season, Longyearbreen, Svalbard: Journal of Glaciology, v. 54, p. 259-272.