Throughout my career as a geochemist, I have been fascinated with the chemical reactions that make our planet habitable. Being able to incorporate science into my passion for exploration is a luxury few people have, and I want to make the most of all the opportunities I come across to share my research and its outcomes with other researchers both within the physical sciences and outwith, in sociology, education and policy. It is only through sharing and communication that we can build up a holistic picture of the modern day Arctic system.
Greenland’s ice is melting much faster than scientists previously thought, with the pace of ice loss increasing fourfold since 2003. And it’s not just the ice; there is substantial export of suspended sediment to the global oceans from glacial erosion in Greenland. Although runoff from Greenland represents only about one percent of the Earth’s freshwater flux, the Greenland ice sheet produces approximately 8% of the modern export of suspended sediment to the global ocean.
The present-day sediment flux to the ocean from Greenland is approximately 56% higher than during the baseline period of 1961-1990, and it’s increasing. This sediment is finely ground, and contains highly reactive minerals that, when weathered, can both release and remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and we don’t know which of these processes dominates overall in Arctic river systems. This has huge implications for understanding whether Arctic rivers are acting as a source or sink for atmospheric CO2, and therefore, how weathering in the Arctic impacts the long-term carbon cycle and climate.
The samples I have obtained through fieldwork and collaborative team efforts over the past 5 years, from pristine environments all over the Arctic hold the seeds to understanding how the Arctic landscape is physically responding to continued global warming, and the unexpected impact this may have on our modern carbon cycle.
If you would like to learn more about me and my work, check out my:
A sample of my publications include:
Aarons, S.M., M.A. Blakowski, S.M. Aciego, E.I. Stevenson, K.W.W. Simms, S. Scott, & C. Aarons. (2017). “Geochemical characterization of important dust source areas in the American West.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 215, p. 141-161
Arendt, C.A., S.M. Aciego, K.W. Simms, S.B. Das, C.S. Sheik, &E.I. Stevenson. (2018). “Greenland subglacial water and proximal seawater U chemistry: Implications for seawater δ234U on glacial-interglacial timescales.” Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta V. 225, 102-115.
Stevenson, E.I., S.M. Aciego, K.W. Burton, I.J. Parkinson, M.A. Blakowski, & C.A. Arendt. 2016. “Insights into combined radiogenic and stable strontium isotopes as tracers for weathering processes in subglacial environments in glacial discharge: Lemon Creek Glacier, Alaska.” Chemical Geology, 429, p. 33-43.
Stevenson, E.I. M.S. Fantle, S.B. Das, H.M. Williams, & S.M. Aciego. (2017). “The iron isotopic composition of subglacial streams draining the Greenland ice sheet.” Geochimica Cosmochemica Acta v. 213, p. 237-254