Skip to main content Accessibility help

Comparative analysis of morphological, mineralogical and spectral properties of cryoconite in Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland, and Canada Glacier, Antarctica

  • M. Tedesco (a1) (a2), C.M. Foreman (a3), J. Anton (a2), N. Steiner (a2) and T. Schwartzman (a1)...


We report the results of a comparative analysis focusing on grain size, mineralogical composition and spectral reflectance values (400-2500 nm) of cryoconite samples collected from Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland, and Canada Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. The samples from the Greenland site were composed of small particles clumped into larger rounded agglomerates, while those from the site in Antarctica contained fragments of different sizes and shapes. Mineralogical analysis indicates that the samples from Jakobshavn Isbræ contained a higher percentage of quartz and albite, whereas those from Canada Glacier contained a higher percentage of amphibole, augite and biotite. Spectral measurements confirmed the primary role of organic material in reducing the reflectance over the measured spectrum. The reflectance of the samples from the Antarctic site remained low after the removal of organic matter because of the higher concentration of minerals with low reflectance. The reflectance of dried cryoconite samples in the visible region was relatively low (e.g. between ∼0.1 and ∼0.4) favouring increased absorbed solar radiation. Despite high reflectance values in the shortwave infrared region, the effect of the presence of cryoconite is negligible at infrared wavelengths where ice reflectance is low.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Comparative analysis of morphological, mineralogical and spectral properties of cryoconite in Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland, and Canada Glacier, Antarctica
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Comparative analysis of morphological, mineralogical and spectral properties of cryoconite in Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland, and Canada Glacier, Antarctica
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Comparative analysis of morphological, mineralogical and spectral properties of cryoconite in Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland, and Canada Glacier, Antarctica
      Available formats



Hide All
Adhikary, S, Nakawo, M, Seko, K and Shakya, B (2000) Dust influence on the melting process of glacier ice: experimental results from Lirung Glacier, Nepal Himalayas. IAHS Publ. 264 (Symposium at Seattle 2000 – Debris-Covered Glaciers), 4352
Anesio, AM, Mindl, B, Laybourn-Parry, J, Hodson, AJ and Sattler, B (2007) Viral dynamics in cryoconite holes on a high Arctic glacier (Svalbard). J. Geophys. Res., 112(G4), G04S31 (doi: 10.1029/2006JG000350)
Angino, EE, Turner, MD and Zeller, EJ (1962) Reconnaissance geology of lower Taylor Valley, Victoria Land, Antarctica. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 73(12), 15531561
Bagshaw, EA, Tranter, M, Fountain, AG, Welch, KA, Basagic, H and Lyons, WB (2007) Biogeochemical evolution of cryoconite holes on Canada Glacier, Taylor Valley, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 112(G4), G04S35 (doi: 10.1029/2007JG000442)
Bøggild, CE, Brandt, RE, Brown, KJ and Warren, SG (2010) The ablation zone in northeast Greenland: ice types, albedos and impurities. J. Glaciol., 56(195), 101113 (doi: 10.3189/ 002214310791190776)
Bossew, P, Lettner, H and Hubmer, A (2006) A note on 207Bi in environmental samples. J. Environ. Radioact., 91(3), 160166
Bossew, P, Lettner, H, Hubmer, A, Erlinger, C and Gastberger, M (2007) Activity ratios of 137Cs, 90Sr and 239+240Pu in environmental samples. J. Environ. Radioact., 97(1), 519
Christner, BC, Kvito, BH and Reeve, JN (2003) Molecular identification of bacteria and eukarya inhabiting an Antarctic cryoconite hole. Extremophiles, 7(3), 177183
Dastych, H (2005) Macrobiotus ramoli sp. Nov., a new tardigrades species from the nival zone of the O= tzal Alps, Austria (Tardigrada). Mitt. Hamburg. Zool. Mus. Inst., 102, 2135
Dean, WE (1974) Determination of carbonate and organic matter in calcareous sediments and sedimentary rocks by loss on ignition; comparison with other methods. J. Sediment. Res., 44(1), 242248
Fandrich, R, Gu, Y, Burrows, D and Moeller, K (2007) Modern SEM-based mineral liberation analysis. Int. J. Min. Process., 84(1–4), 310320
Foreman, CM, Sattler, B, Mikucki, DL, Porazinska, DL and Priscu, JC (2007) Metabolic activity and diversity of cryoconites in the Taylor Valley, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 112(G4), G04S32 (doi: 10.1029/2006JG000358)
Fountain, AG and Tranter, M (2008) Introduction to special section on microcosms in ice: the biogeochemistry of cryoconite holes. J. Geophys. Res., 113(G2), G02S91 (doi: 10.1029/ 2008JG000698)
Fountain, AG, Tranter, M, Nylen, TH, Lewis, KJ and Mueller, DR (2004) Evolution of cryoconite holes and their contribution to meltwater runoff from glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 50(168), 3545 (doi: 10.3189/ 172756504781830312)
Fountain, AG, Nylen, TH, Tranter, M and Bagshaw, E (2008) Temporal variations in physical and chemical features of cryoconite holes on Canada Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 113(G1), G01S92 (doi: 10.1029/ 2007JG000430)
Grenfell, TC and Perovich, DK (2004) Seasonal and spatial evolution of albedo in a snow–ice–land–ocean environment. J. Geophys. Res., 109(C10), C1001 (doi: 10.1029/2003JC001866)
Gribbon, PWF (1979) Cryoconite holes on Sermikavsak, West Greenland. J. Glaciol., 22(86), 177181
Heiri, O, Lotter, AF and Lemcke, G (2001) Loss-on-ignition as a method for estimating organic and carbon content in sediments: reproducibility and comparability of results. J. Paleolimnol., 25(1), 101110
Henriksen, N, Higgins, AK, Kalsbeek, F and Pulvertaft, TCR (2009) Greenland from Archaean to Quaternary. Descriptive text to the 1995 Geological map of Greenland, 1:2500 000. 2nd edition. Geol. Surv. Den. Greenland Bull., 18, 1126
Hodson, AJ and 6 others (2010a) The cryoconite ecosystem on the Greenland ice sheet. Ann. Glaciol., 51(56), 123129 (doi: 10.3189/172756411795931985)
Hodson, AJ and 6 others (2010b) The structure, biological activity and biogeochemistry of cryoconite aggregates upon an Arctic valley glacier: Longyearbreen, Svalbard. J. Glaciol., 56(196), 349362 (doi: 10.3189/002214310791968403)
Irvine-Fynn, TDL, Bridge, JW and Hodson, AJ (2010) Rapid quantification of cryoconite: granule geometry and in situ supraglacial extents, using examples from Svalbard and Greenland. J. Glaciol., 56(196), 297308 (doi: 10.3189/ 002214310791968421)
Kikuchi, Y (1994) Glaciella, a new genus of freshwater Canthyo-camyidae (Copepoda Harpacticoida) from a glacier in Nepal, Himalayas. Hydrobiologia, 292/293, 5966
Kim, Y, Hatsushika, H, Muskett, RR and Yamazaki, K (2005) Possible effect of boreal wildfire soot on Arctic sea ice and Alaska glaciers. Atmos. Environ., 39(19), 35133520 (doi: 10.1016/ j.atmosenv.2005.02.050)
Kohshima, S (1984) A novel cold-tolerant insect found in a Himalayan glacier. Nature, 310(5974), 225227
Kurat, G, Koeberl, C, Presper, T, Brandstatter, F and Maurette, M (1994) Petrology and geochemistry of Antarctic micrometeorites. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 58(18), 38793904
Langford, H, Hodson, A, Banwart, S and Bøggild, C (2010) The microstructure and biogeochemistry of Arctic cryoconite granules. Ann. Glaciol., 51(56), 8794 (doi: 10.3189/ 172756411795932083)
Langford, H, Hodson, A and Banwart, S (2011) Using FTIR spectroscopy to characterise the soil mineralogy of cryoconite from Aldegondabreen glacier, Svalbard. Appl. Geochem., 26(Supple-ment), S206S209
Li, D, Maa, B, Jiang, F and Wang, P (2011) Nature, genesis and provenance of silt pellets on the ice surface of Glacier No. 1 , upper Urumqi River, Tian Shan, Northwestern China. Quat. Int., 236(1–2), 107115 (doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.10.004)
Meese, DA, Reimnitz, E, Tucker, WB, Gow, AJ, Bischof, J and Darby, D (1997) Evidence for radionuclide transport by sea ice. Sci. Total Environ., 202(1–3), 267278
Mueller, DR and Pollard, WH (2004) Gradient analysis of cryoconite ecosystems from two polar glaciers. Polar Biol., 27(2), 6674 (doi: 10.1007/s00300-003-0580-2)
Mueller, DR, Vincent, WF, Pollard, WH and Fritsen, CH (2001) Glacial cryoconite ecosystems: a bipolar comparison of algal communities and habitats. In Elster, J, Seckbach, J, Vincent, WF and Lhotsky =, O eds. Proceedings of the International Conference on Algae and Extreme Environments: Ecology and Physiology, 11–16 September 2000, Teebon, Czech Republic. (Nova Hedwigia Beiheft 123). J. Cramer/Gebr. Borntraeger, 173197
Nansen, F and Herzfeld, G.C.H. (1891) Journey on the inland ice. J. Am. Geogr. Soc. New York, 23, 171193
Nurnberg, D and 7 others (1994) Sediment in Arctic sea ice: implications for entrainment, transport and release. Mar. Geol., 119(3/4), 185214
Odell, NE (1925) Observations on the rocks and glaciers of Mount Everest. Geogr. J., 66(4), 289315
Pfirman, SL, Eicken, H, Bauch, D and Weeks, WF (1995) The potential transport of pollutants by Arctic sea ice. Sci. Total Environ., 159(2–3), 129146
Pillinger, CT, Kroto, HW, Haddon, RC, Iijima, S and Leach, S (1993) Elemental carbon as interstellar dust [and discussion]. Phil. Trans. Phys. Sci. Eng., 343(1667), 7386
Porazinska, DL, Fountain, AG, Nylen, TH, Tranter, M, Virginia, RA and Wall, DH (2004) The biodiversity and biogeochemistry of cryoconite holes from McMurdo Dry Valley glaciers, Antarctica. Arct. Antarct. Alp. Res., 36(1), 8491
Reznichenko, N, Davies, T, Shulmeister, J and McSaveney, MJ (2010) Effects of debris on ice-surface melting rates: an experimental study. J. Glaciol., 56(197), 384394 (doi: 10.3189/ 002214310792447725)
Sawstrom, C, Mumford, P, Marshall, W, Hodson, A and Laybourn-Parry, J (2002) The microbial communities and primary productivity of cryconite holes in an Arctic glacier (Svalbard 798 N). Polar Biol., 25(8), 591596
Smith, JJ, Tow, LA, Stafford, W, Cary, C and Cowan, DA (2006) Bacterial diversity in three different Antarctic cold desert mineral soils. Microbial Ecol., 51(4), 413421 (doi: 10.1007/s00248-006-9022-3)
Solberg, R and 6 others (2009) Remote sensing of black carbon in the Arctic. In Proceedings of the 33rd International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment (ISRSE-33), 4–8 May 2009. Stresa, Italy. Internatioal Center for Remote Sensing of Environment, Tucson, AZ
Stibal, M, Tranter, M, Telling, J and Benning, LG (2008) Speciation, phase association and potential bioavailability of phosphorus on a Svalbard glacier. Biogeochemistry, 90(1), 113 (doi: 10.1007/ s10533-008-9226-3)
Takeuchi, N (2002) Optical characteristics of cryoconite (surface dust) on glaciers: the relationship between light absorbency and the property of organic matter contained in the cryoconite. Ann. Glaciol., 34, 409414 (doi: 10.3189/172756402781817743)
Takeuchi, N (2009) Temporal and spatial variations in spectral reflectance and characteristics of surface dust on Gulkana Glacier, Alaska Range. J. Glaciol., 55(192), 701709 (doi: 10.3189/002214309789470914)
Takeuchi, N and Li, Z (2008) Characteristics of surface dust on U= rumqi Glacier No. 1 in the Tien Shan Mountains, China. Arct. Antarct. Alp. Res., 40(4), 744750
Takeuchi, N, Kohshima, S, Yoshimura, Y, Seko, K and Fujita, K (2000) Characteristics of cryoconite holes on a Himalayan glacier, Yala Glacier, central Nepal. Bull. Glaciol. Res., 17, 5159
Takeuchi, N, Kohshima, S, Shiraiwa, T and Kubota, K (2001) Characteristics of cryoconite (surface dust on glaciers) and surface albedo of a Patagonian glacier, Tyndall Glacier, Southern Patagonia Icefield. Bull. Glaciol. Res., 18, 6569
Takeuchi, N, Dial, R, Kohshima, S, Segawa, T and Uetake, J (2006a) Spatial distribution and abundance of red snow algae on the Harding Icefield, Alaska, derived from a satellite image. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33(21), L21502 (doi: 10.1029/2006GL027819)
Takeuchi, N, Uetake, J, Fujita, K, Aizen, V and Nikitin, S (2006b) A snow algal community on Akkem Glacier in the Russian Altai mountains. Ann. Glaciol., 43, 378384 (doi: 10.3189/ 172756406781812113)
Takeuchi, N, Ishida, Y and Li, Z (2011) Microscopic analyses of insoluble particles in an ice core of U= rumqi Glacier No. 1: quantification of mineral and organic particles. J. Earth Sci., 22(4), 431440
Tieber, A, Lettner, H, Bossew, P, Hubmer, A, Sattler, B and Hofmann, W (2009) Accumulation of anthropogenic radionuclides in cryoconites on Alpine glaciers. J. Environ. Radioact., 110(7), 590598 (doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2009.04.008)
Tranter, M and 6 others (2004) Extreme hydrochemical conditions in natural microcosms entombed within Antarctic ice. Hydrol. Process., 18(2), 379387
Veres, D (2002) A comparative study between loss on ignition and total carbon analyses on minerogenic sediments. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai, Geologia, 48(2), 171182
Weidick, A and Bennike, O (2007) Quaternary glaciation history and glaciology of Jakobshavn Isbræ and the Disko Bugt region, West Greenland: a review. (GEUS Bulletin 14). Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen
Wharton, RA Jr, Vinyard, WC, Parker, BC, Simmons, GM Jr and Seaburg, KG (1981) Algae in cryoconite holes on Canada Glacier in southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Phycologia, 20(2), 208211
Wharton, RA Jr, McKay, CP, Simmons, GM Jr and Parker, BC (1985) Cryoconite holes on glaciers. BioScience, 35(8), 499503
Wientjes, IGM, Van de Wal, RSW, Reichart, GJ, Sluijs, A and Oerlemans, J (2011) Dust from the dark region in the western ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet. Cryosphere, 5(3), 589601 (doi: 10.5194/tc-5-589-2011)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed