GM
Geomorphology

Geomorphology

Soil is not dirt cheap: Soils, Sustainable Development Goals, and Geomorphologists.

Soil is not dirt cheap: Soils, Sustainable Development Goals, and Geomorphologists.

– written by Solmaz Mohadjer – 

Does contaminated soil make your bones go soft? What if you are told to stop growing vegetables in your garden because the soil is too toxic? What if farmers refuse to produce nutritionally valuable crops because of risk of massive floods? What would you do if you are forced to leave your farm due to fear of floods?

Surprisingly, these are the kinds of questions many farmers and families in Europe are asking themselves. These issues are as real as the tears of a farmer interviewed as part of a documentary titled RECARE (watch trailer) that was shown at GeoCinema at this year’s General Assembly. What threats soils and what one can do to prevent and remediate soil degradation are the focus of RECARE, a multidisciplinary team of different organizations brought together to tackle such vital issues.

Soil matters. Civilizations have flourished and collapsed because of fertile soil (or lack thereof). This is what Dave Montgomery emphasized in his book “Dirt” and at a well-attended and highly popular lecture at Town Hall in downtown Seattle many years ago. I was an undergraduate student back then, but his words stayed with me to this day: ‘We are slowly removing our planet’s life-giving skin.’ He explained how plow-based agriculture can bring the erosion rate of a flat place like Kansas close to a place like the Himalayas, and that with population growth, soil does not have a chance to regenerate.

It is no surprise that the 2030 agenda for sustainable development highlights soil-related issues within its 17 goals and 169 targets. Want to fight against poverty? Malnutrition? Climate change? Think soils and land. And if you are a geoscientist, you have a role to play whether you know it or not. In fact, many of the sustainable development issues are at the heart of geoscience disciplines (e.g., sustainable agriculture, water and sanitation, and climate change). These goals and the role of geoscientists in addressing them were discussed for the first time during this year’s General Assembly. If you missed this session, check out the curriculum developed by researchers at the University of Tübingen to explore these goals and to find out how you can contribute.

On the first day of the General Assembly, I had a chance to meet the EGU Division President of Geomorphology, Peter van der Beek, and to get his thoughts on the role of geomorphology in tackling sustainable development issues. Peter listed soil erosion and conservation as well as mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and hazards as topics that challenge today’s geomorphologists. Of all the 17 sustainable development goals, he highlighted climate action (goal 13) and Life on Land (goal 15) as areas where geomorphologists can make a significant contribution. “Geomorphologists also make indirect contributions to Zero Hunger (goal 2) and Clean Water and Sanitation (goal 6),” he added.

Which goal(s) is your research contributing to? Check out the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform and/or connect with organizations (such as Geology for Global Development) that can help you make a contribution toward some of these goals.

solmaz_photo

 

Solmaz Mohadjer is the founder of the ParsQuake Project, an initiative with a mission to increase earthquake awareness, education, and preparedness in the global Persian community. She is currently a geohazard PhD researcher in at the University of Tübingen, Germany, with strong interest in science education and outreach.

 

Short video on Geomorphology – Sediment Dynamics in high-mountain Environments

Short video on Geomorphology – Sediment Dynamics in high-mountain Environments

Geomorphology is the science of processes shaping the earth surface. Especially in high-mountain environments, where the relief is steep, these processes move a great amount of material. This 10 minute video features Geomorphologists from different parts of the world, explaining what happens when glaciers retreat and expose sediments to erosion and how it affects us humans.
Furthermore it attempts to communicate a discipline’s focus to the public.

The video was produced during a summer school in the Kaunertal Valley in 2015, organized by Jan Henrik Blöthe (University of Bonn), Sabine Kraushaar (University of Vienna), David Morche (University of Halle) & Ronald Pöppl (University of Vienna).

Featuring (in order of appearance):

  • Prof. Lorenzo Borselli (Universidad Autonoma San Luís de Potosí, Mexico)
  • Dr. Andreas Zischg (University of Bern, Switzerland)
  • Prof. Ellen Wohl (Colorado State University, USA)
  • Dr. Kristen Cook (German Research Centre for Geoscience in Potzdam, Germany)
  • Dr. Joachim Götz (University of Salzburg, Austria)
  • Prof. Michael Krautblatter (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
  • Prof. Stuart Lane (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Prof. Oliver Sass (University of Graz, Austria)
  • Prof. Matthias Hinderer (Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany)

 

International Workshop on Urban Geomorphological Heritage

International Workshop on Urban Geomorphological Heritage

University of Rome, 27-29 October 2016

Co-organised by the University of Rome La Sapienza (Roma 1), the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia and the University of Lausanne, under the auspices of the Working Group on Geomorphosites of International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG) and the Italian Association of Physical Geography and Geomorphology (AIGEO), this workshop aims at sharing research and methods on urban geomorphological heritage

The workshop will focus on the following topics:

  • geomorphological analysis in urban environment
  • methodologies for the assessment and mapping of urban geomorpho-sites
  • urban geotourism
  • interpretation and popularization of urban geomorphosites
  • relationships between cultural and geomorphological heritage in cities
  • conservation of geoheritage and urban growth
  • geoheritage and urban planning

PROGRAM
Thursday 27 October 2016
Intensive Course “Methods for the analysis of urban geomorphology and geomorphological heritage”

Friday 28 October 2016
Workshop “Research and methods on urban geomorphological heritage”

Saturday 29 October 2016
Fieldtrip “The geomorphological heritage of Rome”

Deadline for abstract submission (one A4 page): 31 May 2016
to Christelle Monnet, University of Lausanne

Website: www.unil.ch/igd/2016/iwugh-rome

Please click here for more information.

Looking forward to receiving your abstracts and to meeting in Roma!

Unwind your EGU stress with a geomorphology memory game

Unwind your EGU stress with a geomorphology memory game

Solmaz Mohadjer, PhD student at the University of Tübingen, found the perfect way to relax during a stressful day at EGU while refreshing your knowledge on landforms: A MEMORY card game.

– written by Solmaz Mohadjer –

Assessing rock surface hardness, dating lateral moraines, modelling future mass-balance changes of glaciers, and playing memory games with school children. Meet Dr. Stefan Winkler, a geomorphologist at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. When he is not roaming around glaciers in New Zealand, Norway and the European Alps, he can be found in school classrooms, with a box of memory cards featuring photographs of different glacial features. The game is simple yet effective, fun and sometimes challenging, even for geomorphologists. The idea for the game came to Stefan while on a geology field trip. There are many ways to unwind at the end of a long day in the field: observing and contemplating nature, yoga, beer or simply going to bed. Stefan adds ‘playing match pair memory game’ to that list.

Most of us have played memory games before, often as kids or parents of kids. Stefan’s memory game, however, is not an ordinary one. It does require you to remember where the card pairs are placed, but that is only one way to get points. To score more, you need to be able to identify the landform shown in the photograph. Is it a drumlin, a fjord, or dead ice? Once the feature is identified, you are asked to describe the landform, explain how it is formed, what it is made out of, and what it says about the glacial history of the region. The game master then judges the quality of the answers using an information card developed for each photo pair. How many points do you think you can score?

This morning at the EGU Booth, I was lucky to stop Stefan from his busy schedule and ask him a simple question: Why do you do this? ‘We need to get geomorphology back into school curriculum,’ he says. But he also emphasizes the importance of considering the end user’s needs, ‘Sadly scientists often create educational tools without involving school teachers.’ He also points out how often teachers become frustrated when they cannot access educational resources developed by scientists because of IT incompatibility, and that the most useful resources are those that are developed in collaboration with teachers.

The memory game was presented at the 2015 General Assembly, and can be ordered by emailing Stefan directly. He will also be convening a session this Thursday, so stop by if you can. If you are lucky, you might be able to unwind with a round of match pair memory game.

solmaz_photoBy Solmaz Mohadjer

Solmaz Mohadjer is the founder of the ParsQuake Project, an initiative with a mission to increase earthquake awareness, education, and preparedness in the global Persian community. She is currently a geohazard PhD researcher in at the University of Tübingen, Germany, with strong interest in science education and outreach.

 

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