GeoLog

Cryospheric Sciences

Imaggeo on Mondays: Emerald Moss

Imaggeo on Mondays: Emerald Moss

The high peaks of the Tien Shan Range, one of the biggest and largest mountain ranges of Central Asia, conjure up images of snowcapped peaks, rugged terrains and inhospitable conditions. Yet, if you are prepared to look a little further, the foothills of these towering peaks are a safe haven for life. Bulat Zubairov, a researcher at Humboldt University, takes us on a journey of discovery to the Ile-Alatau National Park in today’s Imaggeo on Mondays post.

This photo was taken in the Ile-Alatau National Park, approximately at this point: 43° 9’31.81″N, 77° 5’47.36″E. The National Park is located on the northern slopes of Ile Alatau (Zailiysky Alatau) mountain range, which is a part of the Tien Shan Range and it is a main recreation zone for people who live in Almaty (the biggest city in Kazakhstan).

The photo was taken in a small watershed – an area or ridge of land which separates two bodies of water – where a small river flows. The upstream section of the watershed dries up periodically over the summer periods.

Reflecting the rich fauna and flora of the Ile-Alatau National Park, more than 100 species of mosses can be found in this area in a wooded zone. They play a significant role in regulation of water balance of the region, preventing soil erosion, supporting special types of biocenosis and promoting biodiversity conservation. Being one of the indicators of ecosystem condition, mosses also play a key role in monitoring and assessment of current changes in ecology of the region, especially taking into account ever-growing anthropogenic pressures. All this shows the relevance of efforts aimed at researching of such a beautiful and such important part of nature as mosses.

By Bulat Zubairov, PhD student at Humboldt University in Berlin

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/.

 

GeoTalk: Meet Zakaria Ghazoui, winner of the Communicate your Science Video Competition in 2015!

GeoTalk: Meet Zakaria Ghazoui, winner of the Communicate your Science Video Competition in 2015!

If you’ve not heard about our Communicate Your Science Video Competition before it gives early career scientists the chance to produce a video up-to-three-minutes long to share their research with the general public. The winning entry receives a free registration to the General Assembly the following year.

In this GeoTalk interview, Laura Roberts talks to Zakaria Ghazoiu, a PhD student whose video following his journey to the Himalayas to collect core samples from lakes was voted as the winning entry of the 2015 Communicate Your Science Video Competition. He’s since produced a longer video in collaboration with his colleague Arnaud Watlet, which will be screened at this year’s GeoCinema. Read on to hear about their top tips for filming a science video and what inspired them to use video to communicate their science in the first instance.

Before we get started, could you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little more about your research?

Z: I’m in a joint PhD with Grenoble University and Ghent University in the iTECC project (investigating Tectonism Erosion Climate Couplings). iTECC is an inter-European research group funded and sponsored by the Marie Curie Actions. We investigate the links between climate, erosion and tectonics in the Himalaya using a variety of tools that span the geoanalytical spectrum. My research topic is on the influence of tectonic versus climatic controls on erosion and exhumation rates in the Quaternary and understanding the Holocene evolution of the monsoon in Western Nepal based on river sediment and lake sediment cores.

A: I am a geologist and I am doing a PhD in hydrogeophysics over groundwater storage related problems in karst environments. Apart from that, I am an old friend of Zakaria and I joined him on his fieldwork in Nepal, together we made “Inside Himalayan Lakes”.

Some of our readers may yet not be familiar with the competition, can you tell us a little more about it and what made you decide to take part in the competition?

A and Z: This competition gave us, as scientists, the opportunity to promote our work and share it to a large audience, broader than our good old scientific community. Making a video is a perfect way to show what our research focuses on and how the environment we study it evolves.

Had you filmed any science videos prior to producing ‘Inside Himalayan Lakes’?

Z: Prior to making “Inside Himalayan Lakes” , I was editing “Pan Tsang”, with Arthur Ancion and Xavier Moucq, two other friends and professional film makers. “Pan Tsang” is a long movie on my first and second field trips to Nepal which tells the story of the human and scientific experience of being part of a long expedition.

A: I had already done some filming during previous fieldwork at an Indonesian volcano. That project was bigger and is still in production, though. I have also completed a master in film writing during my scholarship at the University of Brussels. At that time, I was member of ‘Noyau Mou’, a small association producing short movies.

What inspired you to film your fieldwork and submit the entry to the competition?

Z: We really wanted to share our human and scientific adventure with others. Not only for the outreach aspect of our project but mainly to broadcast our passion.

A: When Zak asked me to join him on his mission to Himalaya, we already knew that we could come back with amazing shots. Then came the idea to make a short clip over the mission itself. It was only a few weeks after we got back from Nepal that we became aware of the Communicate Your Science Competition. After looking at our rushes (unedited footage), we thought that it was possible to make our video fitting for the competition. As we wanted no voice over in the film, we asked Bakthi Mills, a graphic designer friend of ours, to create an animation that could illustrate the core sampling process. As for the rest, we were convinced that the images spoke for themselves.

Meet Zakaria and Arnoud. (Credit: Zakaria Ghazoui)

Meet Zakaria and Arnoud. (Credit: Zakaria Ghazoui)

We can’t go into too much detail here, but how did you go about collecting the footage and turning it into a film?

A: The footage was the most exciting part for us. We had two DSLR cameras, a tripod and an additional GoPro camera. We decided not to bring any microphone as I knew from experience that it is an additional concern that can be difficult to deal with in such an environment.

Z: That was indeed a big challenge during the expedition. Finding the balance between our scientific work and filming as much as we could while being on record. We had plenty of technical problems because of the solar electricity, cold temperatures (-20°C), the humidity, or working on such small boat while we wanted to shoot.

A: Another tricky part was to edit the movie. We had a lot of scenes but the message was not really clear yet. We had to make the movie fit into 3 minutes so it was a kind of inspiring constraint. We decided to make the movie look like the fieldwork in miniature. Then we had the thread that connected our rushes all together.

What’s your top tip for aspiring science filmmakers?

Z: Open your eyes. Feel the environment around you.Take a camera and go.

A: Don’t go too fast, though. My best advice would be to think about your movie, and what you want to say before the footage. Then, once you get a clear and simple message in your mind, start filming. The rest will come with your rushes.

Which part of the filming process did you enjoy the most?

Z: That is a tricky question, shooting is really my passion except when you do not have more battery and you loose the moment you wanted. Editing is really enjoyable but that can be a real nightmare.

A: As the fieldwork was about lakes, it was important to shoot scenes directly from the boat. As we were working on the boat, we had the idea to attach the GoPro directly to the core sampler and the result was amazing. Time-lapse sequences were also nice to capture. We tried a few times in the night and it was actually a really cool way to relax and wash away the stress of the day in the evening.

Would you recommend filmmaking as a way for scientist to reach out to a broad audience?

Z: I think that is one of the best way to reach out to a broad audience but you have to know in advance which audience you want to reach. I think it is really important during the editing process.

A: I believe indeed that it is an excellent way to reach people that you would never reach with classic publication tools. I would even say that it is crucial to use such media to open your research to the public. Somehow, this is part of our moral duty to society and it may awake young people’s interest in becoming researchers.

Would you recommend others taking part in the Communicate your Science Video Competition?

Z: I would warmly recommend to get involve in the Communicate your Science Video Competition. It is a really good introduction and experience for other movie competitions.

A: Go for it! It is an excellent opportunity to encourage you to make the movie you always thought about. Plus, you will have to share it with your friends and family to earn votes. They will love understanding more what you are doing in your research.

Has this interview inspired you to go forth and produce a science video? The Communicate Your Science Video Competition is currently open for submissions.

If you are pre-registered to attend the General Assembly in April, go ahead and produce a video with scenes of you out in the field, or at the lab bench showing how to work out water chemistry; entries can also include cartoons, animations (including stop motion), or music videos, – you name it! To submit your video simply email it to Laura Roberts (networking@egu.eu) by 4 March 2016.

For more information about the competition take a look at this blog post. For inspiration, why not take a look at the finalist videos from the 2014 and 2015 editions?

Imaggeo on Mondays: A hidden waterfall

Imaggeo on Mondays: A hidden waterfall

It’s fascinating how a relatively small outcrop, carved out by rivers and ancient ice, can reveal much about the geological history of an area. Today’s Imaggeo on Mondays post is one such example. Antonio Girona, a researcher at the University of Zaragoza, gives us a whirlwind tour of the geological history of the rocks revealed by the Sorrosal Waterfall, in Spain.

The visit to the Sorrosal Waterfall is an obligatory stop in your way to the Ordesa National Park, located in the Aragonese Pyrenees (NE-Spain). In the northern area of Huesca province, after a short walk from the town of Broto, this hidden waterfall can be found showing the geomorphological and geological history of the valley.

The Sorrosal Waterfall is located in the confluence of two valleys: Broto Valley, run by the Ara River (nowadays the longest river in the Pyrenees with 67 km) and Sorrosal Valley, a hanging valley 125 m above the position from which this photograph was taken. This waterfall was generated by the combined action of a glacier and the river. During the Ice Age, this site was covered by a 30 km long, 370 m deep glacier that shaped the valley that we nowadays call Broto Valley. At the same time Sorrosal river, fed by a small glacier in its headwaters, carved this valley transversely resulting in the Sorrosal Waterfall.

As a consequence of the slope between the two valleys, an interesting outcrop of geological interest can be observed. The rocks were originated from deep-marine sediments (turbidites) from the Eocene, which suffered a series of stepping folds as a result of the Pyrenees Alpine orogeny, becoming the wavy structure than can be appreciated nowadays.

 

By Antonio Girona Garcia, University of Zaragoza.

 

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/.

 

 

Imaggeo on Mondays: The retreating glaciers of the Svaneti Range, Georgia

Imaggeo on Mondays: The retreating glaciers of the Svaneti Range, Georgia

Today’s Imaggeo on Mondays picture shows the central section of the Svaneti Range, located in the Svaneti Region – a historic province of northwestern Georgia. The range is the second biggest range formed by the modern glaciation on the southern slopes of the Georgian Caucasus Mountains. In today’s post, Levan Tielidze, a researcher at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, writes about the ice capped peaks of these high mountains and highlights the precarious balance of this cryospheric system.

Svaneti range is approximately 100 km long and is distinguished by the height of its relief, as well as by the fact that the area covered by glaciers in the region exceeds that covered elsewhere in the southern slopes of the Georgian Caucasus.These features define the range and lead it to be divided into three sections: eastern, central (shown in this picture) and western. The eastern and western sections are lower in altitude than the central region and modern ice cover cannot be found there, with the exception of Mount Dadiashi which stands at 3535 m asl.

However, glaciers do cap the peaks in the central areas of the range, and can be found between the sections of Lasili and Leshnuri. Here is where you’ll find the highest peak of the mountain range: Laila (Laila-Lehli) -4009 m asl.

The glaciers in this region are retreating and losing volume. Data from the 1960s indicated that glaciers in the range numbered up to 48 and covered an area of approximately 27.76 km2 , equivalent to the size of just over 2500 football pitches. By 2014 the area covered by the glaciers in the region had shrunk by 27.5% and now only covers approximately 20.13 km2.

Some of the largest glaciers of the northern slopes of the range are formed on Laila peak, which itself is covered by a glacier cap. Among these glaciers the largest is Eastern Laila, located in the Khumpreri River basin. The glacier is formed of two ice streams which flow from separate valleys. In 1960 the glacier area was  close to 5.96 km2; its terminus ended at a height of 2300 meters asl. By 2014 the eastern Laila’s area decreased to 3.55 km2 and has retreated to an altitude of 2640 m asl. The total glacier length is now approximately 4.52 kilometers.

The glaciers are an important source of water for agricultural production in Georgia, and runoff in large glacially-fed rivers (Kodori, Enguri, Rioni, Tskhenistskali, Nenskra) supplies several hydroelectric power stations. In addition, glacier outburst floods and related debris flows are a significant hazard in Georgia and in the Caucasus. Future trends in glacier change are thus a topic of considerable interest to the region.

By Levan Tielidze, Institute of Geography, Tbilisi State University, Georgia

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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