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Cryospheric Sciences

Regular Editor

An interview with… Marie Dumont

Snow! Here, Marie is spreading mineral dust on natural snow to investigate how this will change snow evolution (Col du Lautaret, France) [Credit : Maxim Lamare]

This week, we are interviewing Dr Marie Dumont. At the European Geosciences Union (EGU) general assembly in 2019, Marie was awarded the Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientist. Marie is currently a research team leader and deputy scientific director for the Snow Research Centre (part of Centre National de Recherches Meteorologiques, Météo-France & Le Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique [CNRS]) in France. Here, we ask her questions to find out a little more about the snow scientist. 


Let’s start off with an easy question: what is it that you work on? 

My researches are about the optical properties of snow, aka as the color of snow for the visible wavelengths. The “color” of snow is both cause and an effect of the snow cover evolution, it controls a large part of the melt rate and triggers potent climate feedbacks. I am working on how to measure and model the optical properties of snow at differences length scales and how to use this knowledge to better predict the evolution of the snow cover, in the past, now and in the future.

Did you always know you wanted to be a scientist?

Tricky question! Maybe, I knew deep down inside of me. It popped up quite naturally in my career. I hesitated for a while between mountain sports and science, and for some reason (maybe education, maybe something else) I ended up with one being my job and the other being my hobby, so I am quite lucky!

What is it about snow that has inspired you (and prompted four uses of ‘snow’ in your twitter handle)?

Snow snow snow …
Snow is beauty and fairy-like, snow is complex and simple at the same time. To me, it makes everything look great and perfect. As far as I remember, I have always been fascinated by snow. It calms me down and makes me feel incredibly good and peaceful. Maybe, it has also something to do with the fact that snow is ephemeral and somehow bound to melt and disappear and also that it’s changing/evolving continuously, it’s never the same, never boring.

Jon Snow or actual snow?

Jon Snow cause “I know nuthin’”
Jon Snow, except in season 8 …**spoiler alert**.
Kidding … both. I was really happy to see that a worldwide success like Game of Thrones was using snow and winter as part of the (scary) story.  In Game of Thrones, everyone is worrying that the world would end with winter coming. In reality, it was more the contrary. Naively, it made me happy to live in the fiction whilst winter was coming: it somehow distracted me from my sad thoughts on climate change and snow disappearance.

What worries you more: giving an award lecture at EGU, or panicking that you’ve left your tap running once you’ve left for fieldwork?

Giving an award lecture at EGU and knowing that I left the tap running when I left home for the conference… just kidding…. I think I am at bit of a scatterbrain, so I am quite used to leaving home with the tap running, losing my keys, my visa card and my passport. I don’t worry too much about that kind of thing anymore, it’s part of me and I am used to it.
On the contrary, I am not used to giving award lectures at all, so it worried me a lot, really a lot! I thought about it for quite a long time before EGU this year and the thing that worries me the most besides being in the limelight is the fact that I could possibly disappoint people that pushed me to get there and thus put their trust in me.

Marie received her award at the EGU2019 General Assembly in April 2019 [Credit: Olaf Eisen].

You’ve been very successful in both grant funding and winning awards, but what about times of less success? Do you have advice for any Early Career Scientists who’ve recently been rejected?

Usually only success is publicly reported. As anyone, I had, have and will have time of less success: rejected papers, rejected proposals, bad meetings, fully unsuccessful ideas, errors and conflicts with colleagues. I think I learnt, at least equally if not more, from errors and rejection than from success.
Advice? I’m not sure I am the right person to be giving any. This is a bit cliché but: keep trying, be passionate, be open to others, listen to them, listen to their comments and even when they are criticisms.

What do you crave/miss most when in remote locations?

My kids, friends and family, and after a few weeks a hot shower.

Do your kids have an interest in following in your footsteps (Marie is a mother of twins)?

Don’t know 😉 they are five years old! I brought them to one of my favourite field sites when they were two and taught them how to do a snow pit profile. For a while, they thought my job was about tasting snow J I am not really interested in the fact that they follow my footsteps or not. I just want, if I am able to do it, to show them how nature, wild places, and snow are beautiful and I think (ask me again in 10 years) that I would be happy if they are able to find their own passion about something and live it.

They could be the youngest early career scientists in the field of snow research! Do you think science has made advances in supporting women and parents in science? Are there still more things we can work on?

I am always a bit “torn” by this kind of question. On one hand, I think there has been a lot of advances in supporting parents and women in science, and I benefited from that a really a lot and it’s great!
On the other hand, in the push to promote male/female equality, I am always a bit puzzled by the emphasis that is put on supporting women only. There is something contradictory in this.
I think maybe it would make sense not to underline the differences too much. Getting funding, awards, sitting on committees is not all about quota, it should be mainly about skills. I am not at all saying that women, parents and other minorities should not be encouraged and offered new possibilities, as this is happening and is really great. However, there is a weight from history (more men than women in some science topics) that can’t disappear immediately and to some extent, I think pushing women only for quotas is harming the gender equality. Some women (I am part of them) may think they are successful only because of a quota. For example, I have encountered this argument:
XX : “Can you be part of this committee? Can you chair this or that?”
Me : “Why are you asking me ?”
XX: “Because you are a woman …”
Situations like this are frequent and in fact, it can make me quite angry.

You regularly participate and organise summer schools. Do you enjoy teaching? Do you have any advice for someone who might want to start teaching?

Not summer schools, winter schools of course!
I enjoy teaching but it’s also not a large part of my working time and I don’t have a huge experience in teaching. I enjoy teaching because I like sharing with students, learning about them, about their opinion … Advice? Same as above: listen to the students: as kids they teach you as much as you teach them, try to be funny and convincing!

As you spend lots of time in cold places for your work, do you prefer hot/beach holidays or do you still holiday in colder places?

Before having kids, it was really only about cold/mountain places. Now that I am getting older, I do also appreciate hot/beach holidays as long as I can climb or do some sports and that the places are wild and beautiful.

Day to day, what does being a scientist look like?

Coffee, taking kids to school, cycling to work, meetings (I need another coffee), emails, reviews, proposal writing, abstract writing (promising work that I know I will never be able to do before the conference), debugging some programs, discussing ideas with colleagues and students, ticking 2 things on my to-do list and adding 7 new items, trying to fit in two hours of pure science, asking for deadline extensions, meetings again, cycling back home… something like that.

She might look happy but digging snow pits is hard work! Snow pits are often dug to allow scientists to look at the change in snow properties with depth (Col du Lautaret, France) [Credit: François Tuzet].

That sounds busy! And on really cool, awesome-science days, what does being a scientist look like?

Top 10 awesome-science days/moments (with no preference):

  • Field days (even the unsuccessful days and during bad weather)
  • Sharing ideas and debating with colleagues/students when the understanding is beyond words
  • Passionate science/equation discussions in weird places (carparks, planes, trains, …)
  • Exciting new lab measurements that we still don’t know what they are useful for
  • Friday beers when the discussion oscillates between what happened during the past week and what the plans for the weekend are
  • Making at least one person laugh or smile in a conference talk with a nerdy joke
  • Finally getting the figure that demonstrates the hypothesis we were convinced about for a while and realizing a few hours after that there was a bug in the plot routine.
  • Finally finding the bug I was looking for after two weeks
  • Working as a team
  • Making nice figures with nice colours

Fieldwork is a regular part of Marie’s scientific career. Here she is doing spectral albedo measurements with her PhD student, François Tuzet in Col du Lautaret, France. This instrument was developped by Laurent Arnaud and Ghislain Picard (IGE, Grenoble, France) [Credit: Mark Flanner].

We always love a nerdy science joke! What might be the next big break-through in your field? (E.g higher resolution satellite data or a new model or method of observing etc).

The next paper from my student 😉 kidding of course!
I think it’s a combination of the 3 points you mentioned.  On one hand, temporal and spatial resolution of satellite data are getting better and better. For instance, the Sentinel satellites provide us unprecedented means to monitor the state of the snow cover. On the other hand, new observing methods (such as new instruments enabling observations of the snow properties at the microns/millimiters scales) provide new insights on snow evolution (in the lab and in the field) and snow physics that could be implemented in new snow models. So my vision, probably quite biased by what I currently plan to develop, is that a big break-through in snow science can probably be reached by developing modelling-assimilation systems that combine the most advanced knowledge of snow physics and the wealth of high resolution satellite data.

Model, satellite data or in-situ observations, you can only do one for the rest of time… which one?

Sorry, I can’t choose!

Ooo, we will let you off then. Afterall, science is about using the best techniques and data available. Thank you so much for chatting with us Marie!

Interviewed and edited by Jenny Turton


Dr Marie Dumont is a snow scientist at the Snow Research Centre in the Centre National de Recherches Meteorologiques (Météo-France & CNRS). This unit is also associated to the  Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble – OSUG and  to Univ. Grenoble Alpes in France. Her research focuses on remote sensing and observations of optical snow properties, and uses a range of methods including data assimilation of observations into models and laboratory work. She tweets from @mpneige.

 

 

 

Image of the Week – Looking to the past for answers

Figure 1 – The lateral moraines of the Khumbu Glacier, Nepal (A+B). Taken from the true right of the glacier and the confluence with Changri Nup/Shar. A shows the original photo; B shows the annotation highlighting different moraines. Numbers assigned based on distance from glacier tongue. Dots represent where rock samples were collected from moraine crests. Yellow circle highlights walkers for scale. [Credit: Martin Kirkbride (photo), mapping and sample collection completed by Jo Hornsey]

We’re only just really starting to comprehend the state and fate of Himalayan glaciers due to a scarcity of research along the monumental mountain range. Climbers and scientists have been observing these lofty glaciers since the 1900s. However, is that looking back far enough? Glacier moraines, featuring in this Image of the Week, can reveal change extending back thousands of years.


You may look at Figure 1 and think ‘what is that?! It’s a mess!’ and you would be right to do so. The only glacier ice visible is where ice cliffs break the debris-covered surface of Khumbu Glacier (Figure 2), which begins in the Western Cwm. If you let your eyes adjust to the medley of rocks and many shades of brown, you can start to pick out lines and shapes. Some are highlighted by the sunlight whilst others take a more discerning eye. If your eyesight is very good, you can spot the people on a path in the lower right area (highlighted by the yellow circle), which give a sense of scale to this landscape. These huge mounds of rock and debris (called moraines), though appearing messy and interwoven, are vital pieces of evidence which show how much the glacier is shrinking; extending thousands of years back beyond the satellite record or human observations.

But why the mess?

The young Himalayan fold mountains produce huge amounts of debris due to the extreme weather and ongoing orogeny. The summer monsoon also provides significant amounts of intense precipitation, which erodes slopes and sediment, causing a highly mobile landscape, and a continual cacophonous supply of rocks and sediment to the Khumbu Glacier (Figure 2); creating a surface blanket known as debris cover. This debris alters how the glacier would normally melt and results in the surface of the glacier lowering through time, rather than the terminus retreating as so often seen on ‘clean’ ice glaciers. Though data collection is improving constantly, access to the Khumbu (nearly a week’s trek with several days of altitude acclimatisation) limits the range of monitoring techniques available and reduced oxygen controls your ability to collect data. Whilst there is observational data, such as satellite imagery and observations from explorers/scientists during the 1900s, it is limited in temporal and spatial resolution. This is where my research on glacier moraines comes in.

A longer time frame

I have spent the last year and ¾ (I am a PhD student; I am counting every second!) mapping the landforms which these great bodies of ice leave behind. This mainly consists of mapping lateral moraines (Figures 1 and2) as these represent the height of the glacier surface at the time it built the moraines and can be used to reconstruct a patterns of glacier evolution. These landforms have differing patterns (size, shape, preservation etc) between glacial valleys, sometimes even within the same valley, telling us that there are local and regional differences in glacier behaviour. To uncover when this all happened, I did what every person thinks I do when I tell them my PhD is based in geography; I went to collect rock samples from the glacier moraines (Figures 1 and 3).

Figure 2 – Mapped moraines. The moraines are identified by the different coloured lines (higher numbers represent older moraines). The dots represent the areas where rocks were sampled for dating. The contemporary glacier outlines were taken from the Randolf Glacier Inventory GLIMS data set. The Digital Elevation Model was taken from the High Mountain Asia 8m resolution data set (Shean, 2017). [Credit: Mapping of moraines and sample collection completed by Jo Hornsey].

Rocks can tell the time?

Well, no; they can’t. But using a technique known as Exposure Dating, we can assign an age to a rock surface if we’re sure that surface has been in that position on that landform since it was put there by the glacier. This means, if we choose rocks on the crests of the moraines (similar to the one I am stood on in Figure 3), we can interpret the age we get from that rock as the time that the glacier surface was there building that landform. If we do it for the mapped moraines of the Khumbu Glacier (Figure 2), then we can start to build a timeline of glacier recession. Thanks to studies in the 1980’s  and to a couple done in the early 2000’s (e.g. Richards, et al., 2000; Finkel, et al., 2003), we’re pretty confident that the most glacier proximal landforms were built around 500 years ago during a hemispheric wide cooling event. This event was significant enough to build the towering lateral moraines which are significantly larger than those mounds you can see bordering them in Figure 1. Importantly, this event occurred before the western industrial revolution. Therefore, by looking at moraine building events before this, we can recreate how glaciers were before humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels developed, i.e. a time where glaciers were able to reach a point of stability and build landforms. By including smaller, distal moraines as well as the mammoth slopes of those most proximal to the glacier, we can construct a chronology of the Khumbu Glacier’s behaviour over the Late Holocene (2500 years ago to present in the Himalaya), into the last point of stability, and onto the behaviour we see today.

So, then what?

I’m glad you asked. Once we have a chronology for the glacier’s behaviour, we can start to compare it to the modern-day behaviour. This can be done using direct comparisons between glacier extent and thickness or using glacier models. Models can be useful as they are able to recreate the behaviour between the moraine building phases. I will be applying my chronology to a dynamic glacier model known as iSOSIA, one that was adapted to be able to simulate the development of debris covered glaciers. The chronology will act as parameters within the model (so that it knows the moraines must be built by a certain time), and the model can then recreate the glaciers behaviour whilst it was building these striking landmarks. We can use the model to improve our understanding of how these glaciers have become debris covered, what they would be like if they weren’t, and what might happen to them as climate change continues.

What is this all for?

Having travelled to the Khumbu valley and spent days staggering around on the debris-covered glacier trying in vain to catch my breath, the sense of our impact on the world hit home quite dramatically. Whilst the Khumbu valley is a particularly busy valley, you’re still days away from any form of infrastructure. The moment you travel off the well-worn path, it’s the most incredibly peaceful landscape. Not because it’s silent; the glacier is constantly making noise as it slowly flows down the valley and debris shifts around the surface. It is because it is entirely natural. When there are no helicopters to be heard, in that moment, you could be the only person alive. In the face of an ever-expanding world, I believe it is important to protect and preserve these natural spaces, and those dependent on them.

Humans will not last forever, or even for a long time in the grand scheme of things, but if we’re not careful, our impact might. I don’t think future populations of any species deserve that.

Figure 3 – Looking back up the valley whilst I contemplate a rock. Pumori summit can be seen to the left of the photograph, and Nuptse summit can be seen on the right. Existential questions on a postcard please. [Credit: Martin Kirkbride]

Further Reading

Edited by Scott Watson


Jo Hornsey is a PhD student at the Department of Geography in Sheffield, UK. She is researching the changing extent of Himalayan glaciers over the last 2500 years with specific focus on the Little Ice Age event ~500 years ago; dating the patterns of glacier retreat in the Khumbu Valley; using this information to improve accuracy of the iSOSIA model; and applying IPCC Climate Scenarios to analyse future glacier behaviour in the Khumbu Valley. In her downtime she can be found walking, climbing, running, acting, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and invariably trying to show you pictures of her cats.
Twitter – @joshornsey
Email – jhornsey1@sheffield.ac.uk

A brief guide to Navigating EGU 2019!

A brief guide to Navigating EGU 2019!

Are you going to the EGU General Assembly in Vienna next week? If so, read on for a quick guide to navigating the week: Where to start, what to see and how to meet people and enjoy yourself! After all, the meeting is as much about the opportunities to meet scientists from all over the world as it is about the science itself.


How on Earth do I know what is going on?!

The EGU General Assembly (GA) is a massive meeting with many parallel session, short courses, medal lectures and much more. So how do you know what is going on and when, and how can you effectively keep track of it all?

The simplest way is to use the online EGU program – it has options to browse sessions of interest chronologically or by discipline. You can simply click on a session or an individual presentation to add it to your personal programme. You can then view your personal program online, print it as a PDF or use the EGU2019 mobile app to keep track of your personal program on the go. The app also has a handy map feature, to help you find your way around AND new for 2019, a digital version of “EGU Today” – the daily EGU GA newsletter

Don’t forget to keep track of the twitter hastags #EGU19 and #EGU19_CR to see what is happening on a second by second basis and also the @EGU_CR twitter feed!

New Schedule for 2019!

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that the timing of sessions at EGU has changed this year. The new schedule has posters, orals and PICOs in parallel (posters always used to be in the afternoon only!)  and each “block” (i.e. one session of talks, posters or PICOs) is 15 minutes longer than before.

  • 08:30–10:15 – Posters, orals, PICOs
  • 10:15–10:45 – Coffee break
  • 10:45–12:30 – Posters, orals, PICOs
  • 12:30–14:00 – Lunch break
  • 14:00–15:45 – Posters, orals, PICOs
  • 15:45–16:15 – Coffee break
  • 16:15–18:00  – Posters, orals, PICOs
  • 18:00–19:00  – Beer/soft drinks – Networking
  • 19:00–20:00 – Townhall meetings, (some) medal lectures, (some) short courses, special events!

Note: If you have a poster, you should put it up before 08:30 on the day of your session. It will stay up all day, but you will only be expected to stand by it and present in your allocation time slot. Don’t forget to take it down between 19:00-19:30 if you want to keep it!


Urm… so I made it to Vienna – where is the conference centre?

The EGU General Assembly is held at the Austria Center Vienna (ACV) each year. The nearest metro stop is “Kaisermühlen/Vienna Int. Centre” on the U1 line – here is a handy Metro Plan! When you leave the station there will be plenty of signs to the conference – if in doubt follow the large group of Geoscientists (they can usually be recognised by their practical footwear and waterproof jackets 😉 )

The registration fee to the General Assembly includes a public transportation ticket. The public transportation ticket is valid Monday–Friday, 8–12 April 2019. More info on travel can be found here.


Social events Cryospheric Scientists!

So you have spend your days at EGU absorbing plenty of science… but there is another very important aspect to conferences – they are a great place to socialise! However, it can be very daunting to know how and where to meet people at such a large meeting.

This year the EGU Cryosphere team are organising two social events joint with APECS. Come along, meet some new people and enjoy a coffee, beer, soft drink – whatever takes your fancy! We also wanted to highlight this year’s Pride@EGU event – open to anyone!

Pre-Icebreaker Meet Up

When and Where: Sunday 7 Apr, from 16:00-18:00 at Cafe Merkur (U-bahn –  U2 – Rathaus)

Pre-icebreaker meet up EGU 2017

The conference icebreaker can be a daunting experience to attend alone but it is a great event to go along to. We are organising a friendly pre-icebreaker meet up for cryospheric and polar ECSs. We will meet up, have a chat, have a coffee/beer/cake and then head to the EGU conference centre together in time for the main icebreaker. Keep your eyes on the Facebook event for more details!

Cryo Drinks!

When and Where: Tuesday evening 9th April from 20:30 at Brandauer Bierbögen (U-bahn – Spittelau – U4 & U6)

This year we are there will be a return of the infamous Cryo meet-up with a small change – it will be a drinks only event this year (it was simply too big and hectic with everyone eating last year!). So come along and meet some fellow cryo-people old and new. If you want to travel from the conference centre together, we will meet after the ECS Networking Event at 20:00 at the main entrance (look for the blue and white EGU Cryosphere signs!) or you can meet us at Brandauer Bierbögen from 20:30.

Please remember to bring cash to pay for your own drinks (it will be very slow if 50+ people are trying to pay by card!)

Follow the Facebook event for updates and hopefully see plenty of faces old and new there 😀

Pride @ EGU

When and Where: Tuesday 9th April, 15:00-16:00 – Networking & ECS Zone (Red Level)

The main event is from 15:00 – 16:00 plus Twitter chat from 14:30! Pop along to support and find out more about the LGBTQA+ community at EGU. Open to anyone who is interested.


Conference highlights for ECSs:

There are so many courses and sessions running at EGU this year – we have highlighted a few below, but be sure to check out the full list in the online program (see above) as well as this helpful guide to “Session of special interest to Early Career Scientists (ECS)” published by EGU and this blog post “What is on for ECSs at EGU” by Oliver Trani the EGU Communications officer.

How to navigate EGU: tips & tricks

When and Where: Monday 08th Apr, 08:30–10:15 / Room -2.16 (Brown Level)

Held first thing on Monday morning, this could be just the session you need to get your week off to a productive start!

Help! I’m presenting at a scientific conference!

When and Where: Monday 08th Apr, 14:00–15:45 / Room -2.62 (Brown Level)

Presenting at a scientific conference can be daunting for early career scientist and established. How can you optimally take advantage of those 12 minutes to communicate your research effectively? How do you cope with nervousness? What happens if someone asks a question that you don’t think you can answer?

Come along to this short course on the Monday of EGU for some tips, tricks and advice!

Polar Science Career Panel (EGU Cryosphere and APECS)

When and Where: Tuesday 9th Apr, 12:45–13:45 / Room -2.32 (Brown Level)

Many early career scientists come to EGU looking for inspiration to take the next step in their careers. There are so many opportunities both academic and elsewhere that it can be daunting to know where to start looking and what the options are. Join us for a panel discussion about everything to do with life post-polar-PhD and expand your ideas about where you might go next!

If you can’t make it on the day, but want to see what our panelists have to say, follow the @EGU_CR twitter feed and hastag #EGU19_CR for a live-tweet of the event!

Cryosphere Division Meeting

When and Where: Thursday 11th Apr, 12:45–13:45 / Room N1 (Green Level)

Each division at EGU has a meeting during the GA, please come along to the Cryosphere Divisions meeting to learn more about what the EGU CR division does, who runs it and have your say! ECSs are particularly important – you are the future of EGU!

Meet The Cryosphere Editor! 

When and Where: Friday 12th Apr, 16:15–18:00 / Room -2.31 (Brown Level)

Publishing your research in a peer reviewed journal is essential for a career in research, however, getting those first few papers submitted can be daunting. This short course, given by the co editor-in-chief of The Cryosphere Thomas Mölg, will cover all you need to know about the publication process from start to end!


Things to keep in Mind:

This comes from a longer list the EGU provide here, but these are my highlights!

  • Bring a water bottle! There are water fountains all around the building and Vienna tap water is delicious!
  • EGU’s person of trust: if you experienced infringements against the rules of conduct, feel uncomfortable or experience any harassment, upset or abuse during the meeting, please contact EGU’s person of trust at the special registration desk in Hall X5. You can also contact the EGU Information in the entrance hall (Yellow Level 0 – ground floor) and they will call the person of trust. It is also possible to report to conduct@egu.eu.
  • Preferred pronouns: pick up a badge for your lanyard with your preferred pronouns from the EGU Booth in Hall X2 (Brown Level -2 – basement), the registration help desk in Hall X5, or the EGU Information (Yellow Level 0 – ground floor).

Some more general advice from your Cryosphere ECS rep…

The General Assembly can be an overwhelming experience. Take advantage of the lunch breaks and go for a walk! When you exit the main conference building turn left and head for the river, or turn right and you will find that behind the concrete buildings there is a very nice park. Beyond that, explore Vienna and treat yourself to a bit of time off to recover during the week. It is more important to pay attention to the sessions you do attend than attend ALL of the possible sessions. Did you know a Vienna U-Bahn ticket is included in the registration fee? Jump on a train the centre of town and go for a stroll!


Am I an ECS?

The EGU officially defines an Early Career Scientist (ECS) as:

an undergraduate or postgraduate (Masters/PhD) student or a scientist who has received his or her highest degree (BSc, MSc, or PhD) within the past seven years  (where appropriate, up to one year of parental leave time may be added per child).

However, everyone is of course more than welcome to come along and attend the short courses and social events organised by your ECS team, the more the merrier!


Edited by Sophie Berger

Image of the Week – Will Santa have to move because of Climate Change?

Santa Claus on the move [Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons]

Because of global warming and polar amplification, temperature rises twice as fast at the North Pole than anywhere else on the planet. Could that be a problem for our beloved Santa Claus, who, according to the legend, lives there? It appears that Santa could very well have to move to one of its second residences before the end of this century. But even if he moves to another place, the smooth running of Christmas could be in jeopardy…


But…. Where does Santa live?

The most famous of Santa’s residence is in Lapland, Finland, at Korvatunturi. But since this area is a little isolated, Finns then moved it near the town of Rovaniemi. For Swedes, it’s in Gesunda, northwest of Stockholm. The Danes, them, are convinced that he lives in Greenland while according to the Americans, he lives in the town of North Pole, Alaska. In Norway, there is even disagreement within the country: some Norwegians believe he lives in Drøback, 50 km south of Oslo while other believe he lives in the Northernmost inhabited town in the world: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, where Santa even has its own postbox!
Even in the southern hemisphere, Christmas Island claims to be Santa’s second home.

Santa’s huge postbox in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen [Credit: Marie Kotovitch] and Rovaniemi, Finland: the self-proclaimed “official hometown of Santa Claus” [Credit: Pixabay]

It seems that Santa Claus has many places to stay.. But according to the legend, Santa’s real permanent residence is in fact the true North Pole. However, as shown by the Arctic Report Card 2018, the Arctic sea-ice cover continues its declining trends, with this year’s summer extent being the sixth lowest in the satellite record (1979-2018). The latest IPCC 1.5°C warming special report states that “ice-free Arctic Ocean summers are very likely at levels of global warming higher than 2°C” relative to pre-industrials levels. Considering that the world is currently on course for between 2.6 to 4.8°C of warming relative to pre-industrial levels by 2100, Santa’s home is projected to sink into the Arctic Ocean before the end of the current century. It appears it would be time for Santa to start thinking about which one of his second residences he will choose to move to…

Will Santa have to find a new home? [Credit: Pixabay]

Rudolf might be in trouble…

Of course, if he moves away from the melting North Pole, Santa still needs snow at Christmas to be able to take off his sled. But, actually, this could become a problem.
This year, there was still no snow in Rovaniemi, Finland, the self-proclaimed “official hometown of Santa Claus”, by the end of November, making the local tourist attractions very worried. Luckily, it has now snowed there since, but how does this look like for the years to come? According to the latest Arctic Report Card, the long-term trends of terrestrial snow cover are negative.

Another problem which might complicate Santa’s work was underlined in a study published in 2016. This study showed that reindeers are getting smaller because of warmer Arctic temperatures. How come? During the long winter, reindeers are usually able to find their food (which consists of grasses, lichens and mosses) by brushing aside the snow that covers it. But because of the warmer temperatures, rain now falls on the existing snow cover and freezes. The animals’ diet is thus locked away under a layer of ice. As a result, reindeers are hungry and lose their babies or give birth to much leaner ones. The Arctic Report Card 2018 states that the population of wild reindeer in the Arctic has decreased by more than half in the last two decades.

All this is not going to get better, as Arctic temperatures for the past five years (2014-18) all exceed previous records. According to the Danish Meteorological Institute, in November 2016, Arctic temperatures were reaching an incredible peak at around -5°C while average temperature at this period usually is around -25°C.

Climate change also affects reindeers [Credit: Photo by Red Hat Factory on Unsplash]

Christmas trees also at risk!

You may say that Santa is Santa and that he will be able to find a solution to all these problems. Let’s hope you’re right! But another problem is looming on the horizon: you might soon not be able to welcome Santa in your own home as it should with a beautiful Christmas tree.

Indeed, this summer’s heat waves have strongly affected Christmas tree crops everywhere in Europe. Moreover, a 2015 study shows that native Scandinavian Christmas trees are also affected by climate change, and more specifically by reduced snowfall. The latter acts like an insulation layer which protects the roots from the cold winter.

We hope that this post has made you realize the urgency of the fight against global warming! However, in the meantime, don’t forget that the most important to spend a nice Christmas is the Christmas spirit! We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

As a little Christmas gift..

  • If you want to find out the truth about Santa’s real home, you can always check it by yourself by using the Santa Tracker by Google to follow Santa’s Christmas Eve trip and check where he comes back at the end of the night…
  • The highlights of the Arctic Report Card 2018 are summarized in this video.

Further reading

Edited by Clara Burgard

Image of the Week – Making waves: assessing supraglacial water storage for debris-covered glaciers

Fig. 1: Deriving the bathymetry and temperature of a large supraglacial pond on Khumbu Glacier, Everest region of Nepal. The sonar-equipped unmanned surface vessel nicknamed ‘BathyBot’ (left), and kayak retrieval of temperature loggers (right) [Credit: Scott Watson].

A creeping flux of ice descends Everest, creating the dynamic environment of Khumbu Glacier. Ice and snow tumble, debris slumps, ice cliffs melt, englacial cavities collapse, ponds form and drain, all responding to a variable energy balance. Indeed, Khumbu Glacier is a debris-covered glacier, meaning it features a layer of sediment, rocks and house-sized boulders that covers the ice beneath. Recent advances in understanding debris-covered glacier hydrology come from combining in situ surveys with remotely sensed satellite data.


Khumbu Glacier

The dramatic beauty of Nepal’s Everest region attracts a mix of trekkers, climbers, and scientists. Flowing down from the slopes of Mount Everest, the debris-covered Khumbu Glacier has drawn scientists from the mid-1900s, and offers temporary residence for research teams and a myriad of climbers. In some locations, Khumbu Glacier has thinned by up to 80 m in the last three decades, leading to moraines overlooking the glacier with impressive topographic relief and providing an instant visualisation of glacier mass loss for trekkers heading to Everest Base Camp.

Melt at the surface of this glacier is moderated by an undulating debris layer, which insulates the ice beneath,   and enhanced locally by dynamic surface features such as supraglacial ponds and ice cliffs thinly veiled by debris. These features contribute disproportionately to melt and lead to the development of hummocky, pitted surface topography. The resulting variable surface topography and melt rates complicate meltwater runoff and flow routing across the glacier. To better understand them, in situ surveying (Fig. 1) is increasingly combined with fine spatial-temporal resolution satellite imagery to reveal the hydrological evolution of debris-covered glaciers, which is closely linked to their mass loss.

Hydrology of Khumbu Glacier

As with debris-free glaciers, water may be routed through supraglacial, englacial, and subglacial pathways, which are conceptually distinct but physically link to one another.

At Khumbu Glacier, surface channels collect and rapidly convey meltwater generated in the upper ablation area (Fig. 2), just below the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, incising at a faster rate than the surface melt. In the middle of the debris-covered area, such streams disappear into the glacier’s interior through cut-and-closure and/or hydrofracture.

Fig.2: The upper ablation area of Khumbu is drained by supraglacial channels which enter the glacier’s interior through hydrofracture and cut-and-closure, while the lower portion is characterised by pitted surface depressions and an increasing density of ponds. Right panel looking east to west shows the hummocky topography and ponding on Khumbu Glacier. [Credit: Evan Miles (left), Ann Rowan (right)].

In areas of low surface gradient , and particularly throughout the hummocky lower reaches of the glacier, supraglacial ponds collect water in surface depressions. These features haveregulate the runoff of debris-covered glaciers by seasonally storing meltwater. The annual melt cycle thus leads to pond expansion and contraction, or their disappearance when the protecting debris layer thaws and relict meltwater conduits become avenues for drainage (Fig 3). The areal fluctuation of ponds can be quantified using  satellite images at different times, but cloud cover during the summer monsoon season limits useable imagery at a time when the ponds are most dynamic. Therefore, field-instrumented ponds provide valuable insights into their active melt season behaviour.

Fig. 3: A small 4.5 m deep pond that drained over the course of a year [Credit: Watson et al., 2017a].

Turbid ponds associated with debris influx from ice cliffs are often ephemeral but some can grow to hold vast quantities of water (Fig. 1). Stored water absorbs and transmits solar energy to melt adjacent ice, which generates additional meltwater and leads to pond expansion. The ponds also thermally undercut ice cliffs, leading to both subaqueous and subaerial  retreat (Fig. 4). Khumbu Glacier has been developing a growing network of ponds in recent years, which means meltwater is increasingly stored on the surface of the glacier before contributing to downstream river discharge. Ponds that coalesce into larger and more persistent lakes behind unstable deposits of sediment can in some cases pose a hazard  to downstream communities. Field and satellite-based techniques are therefore used simultaneously to monitor lake development.

 

Fig. 4. Supraglacial ponds often exist alongside ice cliffs. These ‘hot spots’ of melt can be observed with repeat point cloud differencing [Credit: Watson et al., 2017b]. An interactive view of the drained pond basin (right) is available here.

What lies beneath?

Ephemeral ponds drain into the ‘black box’ glacier interior, where relatively little is known about the internal structure and hydrology. Scientists have occasionally ventured into the subsurfac e realm through networks of englacial conduits that become exposed as the glacier thins (Fig. 5); such conduits often re-emerge at the glacier surface but may also lead to the bed. The conduits carry meltwater through the glacier but can become dormant if blocked by falling debris or creeping ice, or when the meltwater that sustains them finds a route of lesser resistance. Whilst satellite data can be used to infer the presence of conduits, field-based methods are required for hydrological budgeting and quantifying meltwater transit times. For example, dye tracing can detect the subsurface passage of meltwater where strategically placed fluorometers measure the receipt and dilution of the dye upon re-emergence. Such methods are crucial for developing an improved understanding of the links between, for example, flow in the supraglacial channels up-glacier and discharge at the outlet.

Fig. 5: An exposed conduit on Lirung Glacier (left) [Credit: Miles et al., 2017] and researchers inside a conduit on Ngozumpa Glacier (right) [Credit: Benn et al., 2017].

 

Outlook

Multiple teams working across the Himalaya are advancing our understanding of debris-covered glacier hydrology, which is essential to forecast their future and quantify their downstream impact. With the ready availability of increasingly high temporal resolution satellite imagery (e.g. Sentinel-2, Planet Labs), the link between field and spacebourne observations will become increasingly complementary. Developing these links is crucial to upscale observations from specific sites more broadly across the Himalaya.

Further reading

Edited by Violaine Coulon and Sophie Berger


Scott Watson is a Postdoc at the University of Arizona, USA. He studies glaciers in the Everest region and the surface interactions of supraglacial ponds and ice cliffs. He also investigates natural hazards and the implications of glacial lake outburst floods.
Tweets @CScottWatson. Website: www.rockyglaciers.co.uk

 

 

Evan Miles is a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, UK, where he is a part of the EverDrill project’s hot-water drilling at Khumbu Glacier. His recent work has examined the seasonal hydrology and dynamics of debris-covered glaciers, with a focus on the melt associated with dynamic surface features such as supraglacial ice cliffs and ponds.
Tweets @Miles_of_Ice

EverDrill website: www.EverDrill.org

Image of the Week – Inspiring Girls!

Image of the Week – Inspiring Girls!

What, you may ask, are this group of 22 women doing standing around a fire-pit and what does this have to do with the EGU Cryosphere blog? This group of scientists, artists, teachers, and coaches gathered 2 weeks ago in Switzerland to learn how to become instructors on an Inspiring Girls Expedition. But what, you may ask again, is an Inspiring Girls Expedition? Well read on to find out more…


What is an Inspiring Girls Expedition?

In 1999 Glaciologist Erin Petit, Geographer Michele Koppes, and 5 high-school girls hiked out onto the South Cascade Glacier in Washington State. For the next week, this motley crew spent their time camped out on a glacier moraine, exploring the landscape and performing scientific experiments by day, and talking and listening to each others thoughts and stories by night – that was the birth of Girls on Ice.

Over the next 13 years, more expeditions took place and more instructors (scientists, artists and mountain guides) started to get involved. In 2012, a second Girls on Ice expedition was born in Alaska and, in the years since, there have been Girls on Ice expeditions in 4 different locations and in 2 different languages! The idea has expanded to other areas of wilderness expedition as well, with new projects starting up: Girls on Rock, Girls in Icy Fjords and Girls on Water – nowadays these expedition are collectively known as Inspiring Girls Expeditions!

But I haven’t really answered the question – what is an Inspiring Girls Expedition? It is a wilderness and science education program for high-school aged girls. Over the course of around 12 days, these girls get the chance to explore a wilderness setting, learn about scientific thinking, increase self-confidence, and push their physical and intellectual boundaries as part of a single-gendered team. And, importantly – it’s FREE – opening it up to girls who might not have the financial means to do something like this otherwise. Everyone who goes on the expedition from scientists to mountain guides and instructors is female, making this expedition pretty unique! I think the philosophy of Inspiring Girls is best described by their mission statement:

Our mission is to bring out your natural curiosity, inspire your interest in science, connect the arts and sciences, free you from gender roles, provide a less competitive atmosphere, and encourage trust in your physical abilities.

The workshop

I’ve been following the work of Girls on Ice for a while, so when I saw a chance to go on an instructor training course, I enthusiastically signed up! Over 4 days in June 2018, a group of women from at least 8 different countries got together in a hiking hut in Switzerland for an Inspiring Girls Instructor Workshop, hosted by Swiss Girls on Ice. We came from a broad range of backgrounds: glaciologists, climate scientists, biologists, artists, architects, professional coaches, teachers (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!). We started off by learning more about the Inspiring Girls philosophy, what they expeditions aim to teach, and how they keep the girls safe and deal with any issues that might arise. Then came the thinking part for us…How do you teach in a wilderness setting? How to keep teenage girls engaged in what you are doing? What is a good leader? This gave us a lot of food for thought and we discussed a lot of these issues late into the evenings!

Then the fun part (although we all look rather serious in the pictures – below), working on ideas for new Inspiring Girls Expeditions (the current expeditions are often over-subscribed so there is certainly scope for more expeditions in more places) with the hope of inspiring more girls! So definitely watch this space for more expeditions coming to a mountain, cave or forest near you!

Figure 2: Workshop participants designing new Inspiring Girls Expeditions [Credit: Marijke Habermann]

It was a fantastic few days, with a fantastic bunch of women and I certainly came away feeling inspired myself!

I have to admit, this isn’t your usual Image of the Week blog post, however, I hope the relevance to scientists, science educators, and anyone else that follows the blog is clear! There is a need to show girls and young women that they have the potential to do what they want: be that a glaciologist, a mountain guide (both very much male dominated careers) or something entirely different! This type of expedition, in a single-gendered environment, is a very effective way to help build courage, confidence, and self-reliance!

This sounds cool – how can I get involved?

The team at Inspiring Girls are always looking for new people who are keen and enthusiastic about their project to get involved as volunteers, by donating a bit of cash or simply spreading the word about the expeditions – check their website to see how you can help out!

Edited by Clara Burgard

What’s on at POLAR18?

What’s on at POLAR18?

Next Tuesday (19th June) the POLAR18 Open Science Conference kicks off in Davos, Switzerland. We have put together a quick guide about events that might be of interest to you during the week! Conferences are about the science, of course, but the social side is just as important 🙂


What is POLAR18?

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that the POLAR18 conference is, in fact, a collection of different meetings held between the 15th-26th June, it’s quite confusing at first glance, so here is a summary of what is going on!

  • 15 – 18 June – SCAR and IASC/ASSW Business & Satellite Meetings (i.e. Side meetings and workshops) – details here.
  • 19 – 23 June  – SCAR/IASC Open Science Conference & Open COMNAP Session (i.e. the main event!)
    • Main program here – this will be the most important part for most of you!
    • Side meetings program here
  • 24 – 26 June – SCAR Delegates Meeting & 2018 Arctic Observing Summit – details here.

Venue

The conference and side meetings are held at the Congress Centre Davos which is in the middle of town (see map below). It is easy to walk around Davos, but if you want to use the local buses you get a free “Guest Card” bus ticket included with most hotel, hostel and apartment bookings.

Needless to say, Davos is a great place to be if you like biking, hiking, trail running and just generally being outside – for ideas on what to do, check out the Q&A section of the POLAR18 website.


Events for ECSs

There is a lot going on during the week – below we have listed just some of the social and networking events we think might be of particular interest to ECSs.

APECS World Summit – Sunday 17th and Monday 18th June

The Association for Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) is excited to invite members and other early career professionals from around the globe to our 2nd APECS World Summit 2018! Hosted directly before POLAR2018 – the theme for this two-day event on 17-18 June will be “Connecting the Poles”. Please check out this link for more information and very important – YOU NEED TO REGISTER!

Southern Ocean Data Hack 2018 – Sunday 17th June, from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Every wished someone had combined all the measurements of this or that for you into one handy dataset? Well….someone has! Pop into the Southern Ocean Data Hack on Sunday 17th June in Room B Strela to see these collected data sets and talk to the creators behind them. The workshop is supported by the NSF-funded SeaView project (www.seaviewdata.org) and the Southern Ocean Observing System (www.soos.aq).

Introduction to and use of the datasets will be on an informal, drop-in basis from 8am – 4pm. Contact: Steve Diggs (sdiggs@ucsd.edu) or Pip Bricher (data@soos.aq ) if you want more info!

Celebrate the Arctic! – Monday, 18th June 2018, from 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

This is a social networking event to highlight successes of the Arctic research community, organised by ARCUS on Monday 18th June (evening before the official start of the open science conference). It starts at 7pm in the Greenroom at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos. It is a free event with complimentary catering, door prizes, and a cash bar.

 

EGU Cryosphere ECS Team MeetupTuesday 19th June from 7:00PM

A relaxed social meet-up of the EGU Cryosphere ECS (early career scientist) team – that’s the folks that write this blog!

We are always looking for new members to get involved with the blog, our social media team and organising events and courses at the EGU General Assembly. So if you are interested in knowing more about the EGU Cryosphere Team come along to our meet-up to find out more 🙂

Please email Emma (emma.smith@awi.de) for details!

Queers + Allies Meetup – Friday, 22nd June 2018 at 18:30 PM

There will be a Queer/LGBT + Allies meetup at POLAR18 in the Rinerhorn/Strela room at the Congress Centre Davos (conference venue) on Friday, 22 June at 18:30 (after the poster session). The meeting is designed as a meet-up to discuss community goals and get to know people – after the meeting the evening will move to a social location downtown! 

Image of the Week – Icy expedition in the Far North

Image of the Week – Icy expedition in the Far North

Many polar scientists who have traveled to Svalbard have heard several times how most of the stuff there is the “northernmost” stuff, e.g. the northernmost university, the northernmost brewery, etc. Despite hosting the four northernmost cities and towns, Svalbard is however accessible easily by “usual-sized” planes at least once per day from Oslo and Tromsø. This is not the case for the fifth northernmost town: Qaanaaq (previously called Thule) in Northwest Greenland. Only one small plane per week reaches the very isolated town, and this only if the weather permits it. And, coming from Europe, you have to change plane at least twice within Greenland! It is near Qaanaaq, during a measurement campaign, that our Image of the Week was taken…


Who, When and Where?

In January 2017, a few German and Danish sea-ice scientists traveled to Qaanaaq to set up different measurement instruments on, in and below the sea ice covering the fjord near Qaanaaq. While in town, they stayed in the station ran by the Danish Meteorological Institute. After a few weeks installation they traveled back to Europe, leaving the instruments to measure the sea-ice evolution during end of winter and spring.

 

What and How?

The goal of the measurement campaign was to measure in a novel way the evolution of the vertical salinity and the temperature profiles inside the sea ice, and the evolution of the snow covering the ice. These variables are not measured often in a combined way but are important to understand better how the internal properties of the sea ice evolve and how it affects or is affected by its direct neighbors, the atmosphere and the ocean. The team had to find a place remote enough from human influence, and with good ice conditions. As there are only few paved roads in Qaanaaq, cars are not the best mode of transport. The team therefore traveled a couple of hours on dog sleds (in the dark and at around -30°C!), with the help of local guides and their well-trained dogs (see Fig. 2 and 3).

 

Fig. 2: While the humans were working, the dogs could take a well-deserved break [Credit: Measurement campaign team].

Once on the spot, the sea-ice measurement device was introduced into the ice by digging a hole of 1m x 1m in the ice, placing the measurement device in it, and waiting until the ice refroze around it. Additionally, a meteorological mast and a few moorings were installed nearby (see Image of the Week and Fig. 3) to provide measurements of the atmospheric and oceanic conditions during the measurements. Further, a small mast was installed to enable the data to be transferred through the IRIDIUM satellite network.

 

Fig. 3: Small meteorological mast with dog sleds in the background [Credit: Measurement campaign team].

Finally, the small instrument family was left alone to measure the atmosphere-ice-ocean evolution for around four months. After this monitoring period, in May, the team had to do this trip all over again to get all the measurement devices back. Studying Greenlandic sea ice is quite an adventure!

 

Further reading

Edited by Violaine Coulon

Image of the Week – Polar Prediction School 2018

Image of the Week – Polar Prediction School 2018

Early career scientists studying polar climate are one lucky group! The 29 young scientists who took part in the 10 day Polar Prediction School this year were no exception. They travelled to Arctic Sweden to learn and discuss the challenges of polar prediction and to gain a better understanding of the physical aspects of polar research.


The Year of Polar Prediction

The Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) was launched on May 15th 2017; a large 2 year project that ‘aims to close gaps in polar forecasting capacity’ and ’lead to better forecasts of weather and sea-ice conditions to improve future environmental safety at both poles’. With these aims in mind, and with the support of the related APPLICATE project and the Association for Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), a ten day Polar Prediction School took place in Abisko, Sweden in mid-April.

Abisko is a little town of 85 inhabitants, located north of the Arctic Circle (68°N) next to a National Park and a large lake. Due to the interesting habitats found in the region it is an excellent place to undertake polar research. Consequently, a scientific research station is located in the town, where research mainly focuses on biology, ecology, and meteorology.

Heading back to the research station (seen at the back of the picture) after a long hike [Credit: C. Burgard].

The 29 school participants were made up of Master students, PhD students, and PostDocs, with some studying the Arctic and some the Antarctic. The participants had diverse research backgrounds, with research that focused on atmospheric sciences, oceanic sciences, glaciers, sea ice and hydrology of polar regions, and used a range of techniques, from weather or climate models to in-situ or satellite observations. However, in the end, we were all linked together by our interest in the polar regions. Both this diversity and this link in our research helped us to exchange ideas about the common issues and the differences in all our disciplines.

The school programme

The course aimed to broaden students’ knowledge around their very specific PhD area. Therefore, the school covered a huge range of topics including polar lows, polar ocean-sea ice forecasting, remote sensing of the cryosphere, boundary layers, clouds and much more! Each day was made up of a mixture of lectures and practical sessions, which included:

  • Computer modelling exercises, for example using a simple 1D sea ice model
  • Observations, which included measuring temperature and wind from a weather station on the frozen lake next to the station, and daily radiosonde launches at lunchtime, in sync with radiosonde launches worldwide. These results were compared to model predictions each day.
  • Data assimilation, which focused on understanding the shortcomings in reanalysis products that we all use, including sources of uncertainty and error in the products and how they may impact our own work.

After dinner each evening a different group gave an informal weather briefing for the next day, which was often condensed down to how cloudy it would be, the amount of snow predicted (very little), and temperature (which averaged 2-3°C). Not quite the harsh, sub-zero temperatures that most of us had packed for! Each day was broken up by two coffee breaks (always accompanied by an obligatory cinnamon roll!) and meals which were taken all together in the main research building. This dragged everyone out of the lecture room to chat and refresh before the next session.

As is usual for any worthwhile meteorological fieldwork, we installed a small weather mast on the lake [Credit: C. Burgard].

Living Arctic weather for real

The usual weather in Abisko during April is fairly dry with temperatures ranging from 2°C to -6°C. In preparation for the cold, most of us had brought an abundance of wooly jumpers, thick thermal layers and numerous pairs of socks. However, on arrival in Abisko, the sun was shining and it was a balmy 7°C for the first two days. Whilst erecting the meteorology mast many of us were wearing T-shirts and sunglasses, after abandoning our warmer gear. The warm weather was not to last! Cloudy, relatively mild (2°C to -2°C) conditions persisted throughout most of the week, and it remained dry, which made it easier to forecast the weather but we were all hoping for a little snow! Finally, on the final day of the summer school, large snowflakes fell, although sadly it all melted quite quickly.

When we arrived, the whole area was coated in a thick layer of white snow and the frozen lake was covered. However, by the end of our visit, the bare earth was visible, and the top of the lake was slushy puddles of water. The changes in weather throughout the summer school made for interesting observation records. The albedo (reflectivity) of the lake surface went from approximately 0.8 for the fresh, white snow, but was reduced to 0.4 for the darker, water covered lake surface. It was great to see some theory in action!

Exploring the region

Luckily, we were also given a free day , in which we could explore the region, go skiing or just relax. One large group went off hiking, whilst a smaller group went cross country skiing and a few had a walk to the nearby frozen waterfall. But don’t worry, the science still continued! A group of 3 people stayed close by to release the lunchtime radiosonde.

Abisko children launching a radiosonde! [Credit: J. Turton]

Our visit to the area coincided with the exciting annual ice fishing contest! Whilst cars and small DIY tools are common place in many cities, in Abisko it is a snow mobile (or skidoo) and an ice drill, so they were well versed in the art of ice fishing! The majority of the town’s occupants arrived at the lake and started drilling small holes to catch some fish. After two hours, a number of prizes were awarded (e.g for the longest fish caught). Unfortunately, some of the holes were a little too close to our meteorology mast, and some cables were pulled out, but thankfully we still collected some good data!

An important aspect of any research is engaging with the local communities and communicating effectively with them. So all of the summer school attendees gathered by the lake to watch the ice fishing contest, and a large number of the children from Abisko gathered to watch us release the radiosonde, even helping launch one. They found our activities just as exciting as we found theirs!

And we did some science communication as well!

A crucial aspect of science is how you communicate it to a variety of audiences. The way you might discuss your thesis to your viva panel should be completely different to the way you describe your science to your Great Aunt Linda or to a group of 10-year olds who are attending your outreach event. As part of the summer school, we learnt a range of tips and tricks for communicating science, thanks to Jessica Rohde. Jess is the communications officer for IARPC (Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee) Collaborations and has years of science communication experience under her belt. Each evening we had a short lecture by Jess, which focused on a specific area of communication including presentation slide design, knowing your audience, listening to the audience and finding the story behind your science. Once we had learnt the theory we then put what we had learnt into practice. We did a bit of  improv’, which included 1-minute elevator pitches and tailoring your science to taxi drivers, the Queen of England and models (no not computer models, the Kate Moss variety). An important take-home message was that there is no such thing as the ‘general public’. When designing your outreach event, the ‘general public’ could involve children of all ages (and therefore all learning levels), parents, teachers, professors and pensioners. Therefore, you should listen to the needs of your audience and understand what their motivation is.

You can check out the final results of these sessions here!

In summary…

In the end, although the school was quite intense, everyone was sad to part. We are sure we will all remember this exciting time, where we learnt about the many aspects of polar prediction, and what to consider when tackling science communication. We hope that this school will be organized again in the next years to provide this amazing and unforgettable experience to all those who could not join this year’s Polar Prediction School!

Further reading

Edited by Morgan Jones


Rebecca Frew is a PhD student at the University of Reading (UK). She investigates the importance of feedbacks between the sea ice, atmosphere and ocean for the Antarctic sea ice cover using a hierarchy of climate models. In particular, she is looking at the how the importance of different feedbacks may vary between different regions of the Southern Ocean.
Contact: r.frew@pgr.reading.ac.uk

 

 

Jenny Turton is a post doc working at the institute for Geography at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, in the climate system research group. Her current research focuses on the interactions between the atmosphere and surface ice of the 79N glacier in northeast Greenland, as part of the GROCE project. 

 

 

 

Clara Burgard is a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. She investigates the evolution of sea ice in general circulation models (GCMs). There are still biases in the sea-ice representation in GCMs as they tend to underestimate the observed sea-ice retreat. She tries to understand the reasons for these biases.

Image of the Week – Edible cryosphere at EGU 2018!

Image of the Week – Edible cryosphere at EGU 2018!

It is time again for the annual family meeting of the European Geosciences Union! A lot of interesting talks, posters and events are waiting for you! But this also means you will have to use your brain a lot to concentrate and understand what is going on…


Every year, around 15,000 geoscientists meet in Vienna for the EGU General Assembly (see our guide to navigating EGU 2018). It is an exciting event, where a high amount of exchange is taking place in a very intense way during one week. This also has the effect that, after a few days (or hours), you feel like you need a break!

We have a suggestion! Why not taking some time away from the huge conference center and explore Vienna for a little time? The weather is expected to be nice! But, of course, we do not want you to forget about our beloved cryosphere, so be sure to grab an ice cream at the right place!

 

Last but not least, do not forget about our cryo-social events!

Pre-Icebreaker Meet Up

When and Where: Sunday 8 Apr, from 16:00-18:00 at Cafe Merkur

The conference icebreaker can be a daunting experience to attend alone but it is a great event to go along to. We are organising a friendly pre-icebreaker meet up for cryospheric ECSs. We will meet up, have a chat, eat some cake and then head to the EGU conference centre together in time for the main icebreaker. Keep your eyes on the Facebook event for more details!

Cryo Night Out!

When and Where: Wednesday evening 11 April from 19:30 in Zwölf-Apostelkeller

There will be a return of the infamous joint APECS and EGU Cryosphere division night out come and join us for Viennese food and drinks and plenty of laughs! If you want to travel from the conference centre together, we will meet after the poster session at 18:50 at the main entrance (look for the blue and white EGU Cryosphere signs!) or you can meet us at Zwölf-Apostelkeller at 19:30. Two important things to do if you would like to come:

  • Please fill out Doodle poll to give us an idea of numbers!
  • Please remember to bring cash to pay for your own meal and drinks (it is possible to pay by card, but it will be very slow if 50+ people are trying to do it!)

Follow the Facebook event for updates and hopefully see plenty of faces old and new there 😀

EGU Cryosphere Blog and Social Media Team Lunch

When and Where: Wednesday lunchtime (12:15), on the left when looking at the main entrance.

Come along for an informal lunch meeting if you are already — or interested in getting — involved in the EGU Cryosphere team (which includes this blog and out social media channels). We will meet on the left of the main entrance to the conference centre at 12:15 and then we will decide on where to go depending on the weather. Don’t forget to bring your lunch with you. Please email Sophie Berger for more details.

Edited by Sophie Berger