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Photo Contest finalists 2016 – who will you vote for?

The selection committee received over 400 photos for this year’s EGU Photo Contest, covering fields across the geosciences. The fantastic finalist photos are below and they are being exhibited in Hall X2 (basement, Brown Level) of the Austria Center Vienna – see for yourself!

Do you have a favourite? Vote for it! There is a voting terminal (also in Hall X2), just next to the exhibit. The results will be announced on Friday 22 April during the lunch break (at 12:15).

 'Icebound blades of grass' . Credit: Katja Laute (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). A close up of blades of grass totally coated with ice. The photo was taken at sunset along the shoreline of Selbusjøen, a lake in middle Norway. The coating of the ice was built through the interplay of wave action and the simultaneously freezing of the water around the single blades of grass.

‘Icebound blades of grass’. Credit: Katja Laute (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). A close up of blades of grass totally coated with ice. The photo was taken at sunset along the shoreline of Selbusjøen, a lake in middle Norway. The coating of the ice was built through the interplay of wave action and the simultaneously freezing of the water around the single blades of grass.

 'There is never enough time to count all the stars that you want.' . Credit: Vytas Huth (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). The centre of the Milky Way taken near Krakow am See, Germany. Some of the least light-polluted atmosphere of the northern german lowlands.

‘There is never enough time to count all the stars that you want’. Credit: Vytas Huth (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). The centre of the Milky Way taken near Krakow am See, Germany. Some of the least light-polluted atmosphere of the northern german lowlands.

 'Full moon over Etna's fire'. Credit: Severine Furst (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Etna is one of the most active volcano on Earth but also one the most monitored. As soon as instruments show any signs of volcanic activity, scientists from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) of Catania urge to the summit to gather various eruption data. In this summer evening, the fresh wind sweep the clouds to reveal the rise of the full moon over one of Etna's summit craters where a strombolian eruption is taking place.

‘Full moon over Etna’s fire’. Credit: Severine Furst (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Etna is one of the most active volcano on Earth but also one the most monitored. As soon as instruments show any signs of volcanic activity, scientists from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) of Catania urge to the summit to gather various eruption data. In this summer evening, the fresh wind sweep the clouds to reveal the rise of the full moon over one of Etna’s summit craters where a strombolian eruption is taking place.

 'There is never enough time to count all the stars that you want.' . Credit: Vytas Huth (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Ice on Jokulsarlon beach in Iceland. Ice calving off the Breidamerkurjokull, one of the glaciers comprising the Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Iceland. The is retreating rapidly, and in the process has created a large glacial lagoon known for its spectacular icebergs.

‘Glowing Ice’. Credit: Vytas Huth (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Ice on Jokulsarlon beach in Iceland. Ice calving off the Breidamerkurjokull, one of the glaciers comprising the Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Iceland. The is retreating rapidly, and in the process has created a large glacial lagoon known for its spectacular icebergs.

 'Ice lace flower'. Credit: Maria Elena Popa (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Early morning shot of a spider web with frozen water droplets. The photo has been turned upside down, to make it look like a flower.

‘Ice lace flower’. Credit: Maria Elena Popa (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Early morning shot of a spider web with frozen water droplets. The photo has been turned upside down, to make it look like a flower.

 Sphalerite's "Transformer"'. Credit: Dmitry Tonkacheev (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). The bulk of Au wire "boards" on the dark-brown phase surface in the form of fascination crystals (usually arborescent). Some of them look like a weapon from the "Transformers" arsenal or parts of his armor. Also bright diamond luster of this creature makes our "Knight" even more ultra-modern.

‘Sphalerite’s “Transformer”‘. Credit: Dmitry Tonkacheev (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). The bulk of Au wire “boards” on the dark-brown phase surface in the form of fascination crystals (usually arborescent). Some of them look like a weapon from the “Transformers” arsenal or parts of his armor. Also bright diamond luster of this creature makes our “Knight” even more ultra-modern.

 'Nimbostratus painting the sky'. Credit: y María Burguet (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). This photo was taken in Valencia (Spain) during a storm formation. Nimbostratus are described as a grey cloud cover with a veiled appearance due to the precipitation (liquid or solid) holded within them. They are formed when a large layer of relatively warm and humid air ascend above a cold air mass. Together with the Altostratus, it is the core of a warm front.

‘Nimbostratus painting the sky’. Credit: María Burguet (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). This photo was taken in Valencia (Spain) during a storm formation. Nimbostratus are described as a grey cloud cover with a veiled appearance due to the precipitation (liquid or solid) held within them. They are formed when a large layer of relatively warm and humid air ascend above a cold air mass. Together with the Altostratus, it is the core of a warm front.

 'Living flows'. Credit: Marc Girons Lopez (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). River branches and lagoons in the Rapa river delta, Sarek National Park, northern Sweden. The lush vegetation creates a stark contrast with the glacial sediments transported by the river creating a range of tonalities.

‘Living flows’. Credit: Marc Girons Lopez (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). River branches and lagoons in the Rapa river delta, Sarek National Park, northern Sweden. The lush vegetation creates a stark contrast with the glacial sediments transported by the river creating a range of tonalities.

 'View of the Mausoleum'. Credit: Mike Smith (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). The north Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, featuring one of the most spectacular coastal roads. In the distance the Mussenden Temple, built in 1785 as a reclusive library 40 m above the Atlantic Ocean.

‘View of the Mausoleum’. Credit: Mike Smith (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). The north Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, featuring one of the most spectacular coastal roads. In the distance the Mussenden Temple, built in 1785 as a reclusive library 40 m above the Atlantic Ocean.

 'Frozen angel'. Credit: Mikhail Varentsov (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Go-Pro camera, covered by hoarfrost, at sunrise, looks like fantasy-style angel with sword and banner. Photo made during NABOS-2015 expedition.

‘Frozen angel’. Credit: Mikhail Varentsov (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). Go-Pro camera, covered by hoarfrost, at sunrise, looks like fantasy-style angel with sword and banner. Photo made during NABOS-2015 expedition.

In addition, this year, to celebrate the theme of the EGU 2016 General Assembly, Active Planet, the photo that best captured the theme of the conference was selected by the judges. The winner is this stunning photo entitled ‘Mirror mirror in the sea…’, by Mario Hoppmann! Congratulations! This too is being exhibited in Hall X2 (basement, Brown Level) of the Austria Center Vienna.

 'Mirror Mirror in the sea...' . Credit: Mario Hoppmann (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). A polar bear is testing the strength of thin sea ice. Polar bears and their interaction with the cryosphere are a prime example of how the biosphere is able to adapt to an "Active Planet". They are also a prime example of how the anthropogenic influence on Earth's climate system endangers other lifeforms.

‘Mirror Mirror in the sea…’ . Credit: Mario Hoppmann (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu). A polar bear is testing the strength of thin sea ice. Polar bears and their interaction with the cryosphere are a prime example of how the biosphere is able to adapt to an “Active Planet”. They are also a prime example of how the anthropogenic influence on Earth’s climate system endangers other lifeforms.

GeoEd: Using art in your science teaching and outreach. The why and the how.

GeoEd: Using art in your science teaching and outreach. The why and the how.

This month’s GeoEd post is brought to you by Dr. Mirjam S. Glessmer. Mirjam is a physical oceanographer turned instructional designer. She blogs about her “Adventures in Teaching and Oceanography” and tweets as @meermini. Get in touch if you are interested in talking about teaching and learning in the geosciences!

Sometimes we look for new ways to engage our students or the general public in discussions about our science. Today I would like to suggest we use art! Someone recently told me about her work on “STEAM”, which is STEM+Arts and apparently big on the rise. While I had never heard about it before, and initially found the idea a bit weird and artificial, there are certainly many occasions where thinking about topics in a more comprehensive way than just through disciplinary lenses could be of great benefit, both to get a fuller view of what is going on, as well as to maybe reach people in a different way, and therefore reach people that might not necessarily be interested in either of the parts by itself.

There are many different kinds of art that we can use in STEM teaching and outreach, ranging from art that uses science as its central theme to art that just happens to be displaying something we have a scientific interest in. And while in this blog post “art” is taken to mean visual art, you can think about this much more widely and include music, theatre, anything you can think of! Dream big!

Art that incorporates scientific data

One example of art that uses science as a central theme and that is very well suited for our purposes is the amazing art of Jill Pelto, who communicates scientific research through art. What that means is that she takes graphs of recent dramatic changes in the climate system, like sea level rise or melting glaciers, and uses them in her art as part of the image. For example, a graph of the global average temperature is integrated on the border between a burning forest and the flames leaping into the smoky sky. You’ll only notice it if you look carefully. Similarly, the boundary between the school of clown fish and the forest of anemones moving in the waves, showing the declining ocean pH which threatens this ecosystem (see figure below). Brian Kahn, Senior Science writer for Climate Central, describes Jill Pelto’s paintings as “Trojan horse for science to reach a public that doesn’t necessarily think about data points and models”.

And that is a great approach to using this art. But how else could we use art like this in teaching and outreach?

I could imagine using these kind of images in courses where students are to investigate a scientific topic in a project. Each group of students could be handed a different image, and they could be asked to figure out as much as possible about the topic and present it back to their peers. I would imagine that giving students a data set in such a visually appealing form would provoke an emotional connection and response much more easily than if they were presented with “just” the data. In the final exhibition, the art would work as great eye catchers to lure visitors into a topic.

I could also imagine using Jill Pelto’s art in a science outreach workshop. There, I would ask participating PhD students or scientists to take the one time series (or any other visual representation they have of their data that shows the most important part of their story) and, inspired by the art they saw, integrate their data into an eye-catching display that tells their story for them, which they present to the public at the end of the course.

Wow, this really makes me want to do this for my own research!

Art that visualizes scientific results

The best-known example of art that tells scientific stories is Greg Johnson’s “Climate change science 2013: Haiku“. A poster of all 20 illustrations is up in my office (Thanks, Joke and Torge!) and I can tell you – it is a great conversation starter! The haikus – a traditional form of Japanese poetry – and illustrations provide just enough information to spark curiosity, so I often find myself discussing climate change with my (non-climate scientist) colleagues. Clearly, the haikus would also work as excellent conversation starters in outreach!

Picture from Climate Change Science 2013 Haiku by Dr. Greg Johnson. Credit Sightline Institute, used with permission.

Picture from Climate Change Science 2013 Haiku by Dr. Greg Johnson. Credit Sightline Institute, used with permission.

In teaching, I would use Greg Johnson’s illustrated haikus to break the IPCC report’s summary for policymakers down into its chapters, and hand out one illustration per group. Depending on what kind of students I was teaching, I would either ask them to read the corresponding summaries, or browse the chapter, or read one of the original articles cited in that chapter. I might even ask them to find articles that might shed a different light on the (obviously oversimplified) message of the haikus. What kind of evidence would they want to see to shoot down those messages or in support of it? Those kind of thoughts are a very good practice for their own research where they always need to consider whether the conclusions they draw are the only possible ones. Especially since the illustrations immediately create an emotional involvement with the message of the haiku; this is such an important exercise!

Here, again, the art helps to make very complex science easily approachable, and would again be awesome as an eye catcher in an exhibition where student groups present their work to each other. (If you are worried about all the posters you are supposed to be printing, check out this post for a cheap and easy solution).

The haikus could also be used as inspiration when you ask your students to read articles and summarise them in a haiku plus drawing. This would be great practice to get to the point, and also it would be great practice for outreach. How cool would it be if your students had a piece of art and a short poem summarizing their theses?

For more inspiring illustrations of scientific articles, check out Greg Johnson’s blog. Maybe you’ll find an illustration of the article you were planning to have your students read in their next class?

Art that incidentally shows science we are interested in

Alternatively, take a  look at art that doesn’t explicitly focuses on science as its topic, but which can still be used to discuss science.

One example is given in the TED talk “the unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s `Starry Night´” by Natalya St. Clair, where the painting is deconstructed and put in the context of the development of mathematical theories for turbulence. I have linked the video below and it is totally worth watching!

The video could serve as a great first exposure to turbulence in a physics class and would make for a very interesting assignment in a flipped setting. It could also be watched in art class to help underline that art is a “serious” subject and not just a bit of splashing with paint (or whatever prejudices your audience might have).

Alternatively, you could ask your students to attempt a similar interpretation of a different picture. For example, when talking about different kinds of waves in your oceanography class, ask your students to browse a gallery of famous seaside paintings, online or “for real”, pick one painting and interpret the state of the sea, the shape of the clouds, the color of the light, to learn as much as possible about the weather conditions depicted in the painting. Always interesting, too: Check for consistency of wind direction from all the flags and sails and flying hair!

Alternatively, you could use a collection of pictures to talk about how knowledge in your field developed (for an example of how this could work for soil science, see Laura Roberts-Artal’s blog post).

See – so many ways to include art in your science teaching and outreach to capture new audiences’ interest or just look at your topic from a different angle!

How would you use art in your teaching and outreach? Let us know in the comments below!

By Mirjam S. Glessmer, Coordinator of Teaching Innovation at Hamburg University of Technology

Imaggeo on Mondays: Snow and ash in Iceland

Imaggeo on Mondays: Snow and ash in Iceland

Featuring today on the blog is the land of ice and fire: Iceland. That title was never better suited to (and exemplified), than it is in this photograph taken by Daniel Garcia Castellanos in June 2013. Snow capped peaks are also sprinkled by a light dusting of volcanic ash. Dive into this post to find out the source of the ash and more detail about the striking peak.

The picture is dominated by a snowed mountain in Southern Iceland, captured in June 2013, three years after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. When Eyjafjallajokull erupted, it sent ash kilometers high into the atmosphere disrupting the air traffic in most Europe for weeks.

“This striking Icelandic landscape also inspired Tolkien’s fantasy in The Lord of the Rings,” explains Daniel, a researcher at the  Instituto de Ciencias de la Tierra Jaume Almera, in Barcelona.

Eyjafjallajokull is located in the Eastern Volcanic Zone in southern Iceland and the area photographed is among the youngest (less than 0.7 yr in age) and most active areas of Iceland, right on the contact where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates meet.The black rock seen in the image is tephra – fragments of rock that are produced when magma or or rock is explosively ejected (USGS) – from the neighboring Torfajökull rhyolitic stratovolcanic system, know for its cone shaped volcanoes built from layer upon layer of lava rich in silica and consequently very viscous. The light-green colour consists of the ubiquitous Icelandic moss.

In the image, the remnants of winter white snow are dotted with fine grey ashes from the Eyjafjallajökull 2010 eruption (about 30 km to the south of this image). Years after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the volcano still burns hot and its lighter ashes are still blown over southern Iceland providing this magical colors over the entire region.

Daniel’s adventures in Iceland didn’t stop at simply photographing stunning volcanic landscapes. He also had the privilege to see the inside of one of the volcanoes in the Eastern Volcanic Zone close up. Watch his descent into the Thrihnukagigur volcanic conduit over on his blog, Retos Terrícolas.

Imaggeo on Mondays: Fire Watch Constellation

Imaggeo on Mondays: Fire Watch Constellation

Wild fires: raging walls of flames, capable of burning down swathes of pristine, sometimes protected and ancient, landscapes have been causing havoc around the globe. Managing and controlling them is no easy task; they can unexpectedly change their course with the wind and jump across rivers, roads and man-made fire breaks.

The significant threat they pose, and damage they can cause, to valuable ecosystems worldwide has been recently evidenced by the destruction of 180 million year old forests in Tasmanian; so unique they are a designated United Nations World Heritage wilderness land. Not only that, wildfires can have sever effects on air quality, directly impacting human health, while at the same time contributing hefty amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. As recently as the end of last year (2015), forest fires in Indonesia were hailed as a ‘crime against humanity‘, after causing over 500,000 cases of acute respiratory tract infections.

This week’s Imaggeo on Mondays photograph highlights an emerging field of research where scientists are developing new methods to try and better understand the past impact of wildfires and how they contributed (or not) to climate change.

Of his image, Egle Rackauskaite writes: This composite shows a constellation of combined visual and infrared imaging of a smouldering combustion front spreading radially over a thin sample of dry peat. The central watch is created by a series of twelve wedges. Each wedge is extracted from a photo taken every 5 min from an elevated view looking down into the sample during the one-hour lab experiment. The circular peat sample (D=22 cm) was ignited on the centre by an electrical heater. The average radial spread rate was 10 cm/h and the peak temperature 600°C. The top figures show the virgin peat (left) and the final residue (right). The bottom figures show the wedges in visual (left) and infrared (right) imaging. Smouldering combustion is the driving phenomenon of wildfires in peatlands, like those causing haze episodes in southeast Asia and Northeast Europe. These are the largest fires on Earth and an extensive source of greenhouse gases, but poorly studied. Our experiments help to understand this emerging research topic in climate-change mitigation by characterizing the dynamics of ignition, spread and extinction, and also measure the yield of carbon emissions.

If you pre-register for the 2016 General Assembly (Vienna, 17 – 22 April), you can take part in our annual photo competition! From 1 February up until 1 March, every participant pre-registered for the General Assembly can submit up three original photos and one moving image related to the Earth, planetary, and space sciences in competition for free registration to next year’s General Assembly!  These can include fantastic field photos, a stunning shot of your favourite thin section, what you’ve captured out on holiday or under the electron microscope – if it’s geoscientific, it fits the bill. Find out more about how to take part at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/photo-contest/information/.

 

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