GeoLog

EGU GA 2015

GeoEd: GIFT Workshops at the General Assembly – What the 2016 participants can expect

GeoEd: GIFT Workshops at the General Assembly – What the 2016 participants can expect

The General Assembly (GA) is not only for researchers but for teachers and educators with an interest in the geosciences also. Every year the Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) is organised by the EGU Committee on Education to bring first class science closer to primary and high school teachers.

If you are an educator attending this year’s edition of the GIFT workshop –the topic of which is ‘The Solar System and beyond’ and is co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA) – you might be asking yourself what to expect. If so, read on, as this post should go some way towards showcasing the important take-home messages which come out of taking part in the workshop.

Anna Elisabetta Merlini, a teacher at the Scuola Dell’infanzia Alessandrini, near Milan in Italy, attended last year’s edition of the GIFT Worksop at the 2015 General Assembly in Vienna. Following the workshop she wrote a report about her time at the conference. Below you’ll find a summary of the report; to read the full version, please follow this link.

“My experience to GIFT workshop 2015 has been a real opportunity to find the connection between schools and the geoscience world,” explains Anna in the opening remark of her report. The 2015 GIFT workshop focused on mineral resources and Anna felt that “the GIFT workshop gave all teachers a new awareness of the presence of minerals in our daily routine” and equipped participating teachers with tools to tackle important mineral ores related topics, carrying out practical and productive activities with students.

As a teacher with a geological background, Anna found that the GIFT workshop allowed her to achieve mainly three different goals:

  • Realisation of new didactic ore related projects

Following the workshop, Anna took some of the things she learnt during her time in Vienna and applied them to ongoing teaching projects she was involved with prior to the GA. In particular, she

Anna (center) with other teachers at the 2015 GIFT workshop in Vienna. (Credit: Anna Elisabetta Merlini).

Anna (center) with other teachers at the 2015 GIFT workshop in Vienna. (Credit: Anna Elisabetta Merlini).

adapted existing teaching activities to highlight the practical connection between daily life and minerals found in objects. For instance, the youngest pupils in the Milan based school enjoyed a more hands on approach to learning about soil by exploring the areas just outside the building gates!

  • New interconnection to other teachers and scientific institutions

During the workshop in Vienna, Anna realised “how important is to involve young generations in geoscience topics in order to grow a more eco-aware generation in the future.” This notion inspired the primary teacher to start the Geoscience Information for Kids (GIFK) programme  to be implemented throughout local schools.

  • New ideas for my professional future within educational area

The GIFT workshop is not only an opportunity to develop new skills and develop new ideas, but also a place to network.  Through interactions with the teachers she met at the GIFT workshop, Anna felt empowered to “improve my skills in teaching geoscience, learning new tools and new strategies to involve students in the best way.”

For example, fruitful discussions with a Malawi based teacher meant she now better appreciates the differences between teaching in two, so vastly different, countries and how that impacts on students.

Anna concludes that the GIFT

“experience opened my eyes about the future, enforcing my conviction that children are our future and educational programs need to involve students at all levels, starting from the beginning.”

The EGU 2016 GIFT workshop ‘The Solar System and beyond’, co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA), is taking place on April 18–20 2016 at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 17 to 22 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

GeoTalk: Fishing meets science with waders and smartphones

GeoTalk: Fishing meets science with waders and smartphones

Dutch and American researchers have developed waders equipped with temperature sensors that enable fly-fishers to find the best fishing locations while collecting data to help scientists study streams. The research is published today (29 February) in Geoscientific Instrumentation Methods and Data Systems (GI), an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union. In this GeoTalk interview we talk to Rolf Hut, a hydrologist at the Delft University of Technology, and lead author of the paper, as well as with Tim van Emmerik, co-author of the paper and also a hydrologist at Delft University of Technology, to learn more about this unique invention and its application for both hydrologists and fly fishers!

What was the motivation behind this study? How did the idea to use temperature sensing waders for environmental sciences come about?

Rolf: The idea originated during a discussion between Scott Tyler and I at the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting . We were discussing the difficulty in calibrating DTS (Distributed Temperature Sensing, see Selker et al., 2006) in streambeds and suddenly the thought popped in our heads that we are wearing waders when installing DTS cables, why not equip the waders with temperature sensors? When we started to further think this idea through (beer may have been involved), we realised that fly-fishers walking in streams with temperature sensing waders would make a great source of data for scientists studying hyporheic exchange (the study of groundwater-streamwater interaction).

Furthermore, fly fishers themselves could benefit from knowing local stream temperature to find optimal fishing locations. Therefore, we set out to, as a first test, prove that temperature sensing waders could potentially provide this information. The result of that test is presented in our current paper.

What data do you hope to collect with your waders and what applications, both for the scientific community and the wider public, would the data have?

Rolf Hut testing the temperature-sensing waders in the field. Credit: Tim van Emmerik

Rolf Hut testing the temperature-sensing waders in the field. Credit: Tim van Emmerik

Rolf: As scientists, we hope these data help us better understand where groundwater enters streams and where stream water drains away to the groundwater. Hyporheic exchange (groundwater-streamwater interaction) is a complex field of study, with very local places where groundwater enters small streams. Understanding this is vital in understanding stream-water ecology: which species live where in the stream. Ultimately, good understanding of stream dynamics helps us advise policies that better balance multiple use of stream water: as a natural habitat for plants and animals, and as a human drinking resource and place for recreation.

However, measurements of streamflow dynamics, including stream temperature, are usually labour intensive and at the same time, stream dynamics vary highly between different streams. For better understanding, more measurements are needed, but scientists are (rightly so) budget constrained in this. Therefore, we believe our temperature sensing waders, when applied at large scale, can be very beneficial to our understanding of stream dynamics.

Tim: In just the USA alone, an estimated 27 million recreational anglers regularly fish in freshwater streams and lakes. Imagine if they were all equipped with a temperature sensing wader! This would mean a constant supply of new, accurate data, which can be used to estimate water quality and quantity, fish ‘hotspots’, and overall state of the ecosystem.

How did you show your idea of using waders and smartphones to measure water temperature was feasibility?

Rolf: In this paper we only wanted to test whether a sensor in the bottom of a wader would be able to detect (large) differences in stream temperature so we could pinpoint locations of groundwater-streamwater interaction.

We tested this in two ways. First, we tested it in the field by walking in a stream where we knew a localised influx of cold groundwater was present. I was wearing the waders and also used a reference thermometer to measure water temperature. Secondly, we tested how long it takes for the waders to change temperature when exposed to a drop, or rise, in temperature. We tested this in the Water Lab of Delft University of Technology by preheating the waders and then exposing it to the colder water of the flume in our lab. We differed the flow velocity in the flume, and also tested what the influence of having a (warm blooded) human leg in the wader was to the temperature it sensed.

Could you clarify what advances you’ve made since you first presented this research at the EGU General Assembly last April?

Rolf: After the initial idea, I submitted an abstract to the General Assembly. In the abstract for the GA I merely promised to “show a prototype”. Because of other academic deadlines, and my own chaotic mind, this meant that the prototype demonstrated at the General Assembly was made the Sunday before the GA started, in our AirBnB apartment in Vienna. My poster had an explanation of “the idea” in it, and my phone showed the real-time temperature of the wader. I had to calibrate it on the spot, so I needed both a hot and a cold reference temperature. We used the ice intended for the beers during the poster session as cold calibration. If people are still wondering why the beer was not as cold as it should have been that day: now they know. Hooray for last minute science :-s. However, walking around in waders during the poster session drew the attention of journalist who covered our work. Which was, honestly, at that point at a very early stage. For the work presented in this paper, we took the time to be more precise and did a proper calibration in our lab.

Tim: The presentation at EGU got a lot of enthusiastic reactions, from scientists, professionals, journalists, and many others. We used the momentum that was gained at the GA to very effectively do our lab measurements, fieldwork campaign at a beautiful Dutch windmill-filled site, and wrap up the study in a concise paper.

Location in the Dutch country side where researchers tested their prototype waders. Credit: Tim van Emmerik

Location in the Dutch country side where researchers tested their prototype waders. Credit: Tim van Emmerik

Do you have any plans to actively engage the fishing community and get members of the public to use the waders?

Rolf: Now that we have demonstrated first feasibility we want to discus with producers of waders to find the best way to easily incorporate sensors in many waders. Once that is sorted out, we want to reach out to communities with interest, such as (fly-)fishing groups, local conservation groups and schools. After the press coverage that the GA sparked, several of these groups already reached out to us. I have kept that at arm’s length for now, because we wanted to be sure that the ideal would hold up to a first test, which we now have demonstrated.

In your view, what are the most important results and implications of this study?

Rolf: it works!

Basically, we had a wild idea at the AGU Fall Meeting and demonstrated a prototype at the EGU General Assembly. We now have demonstrated that this prototype is capable of measuring the type of temperature changes we are interested in. With that hurdle taken, the road to citizen science campaigns is now open.

Tim: This work really is an example of how relatively simple measurement devices can be fused with existing equipment to actively involve communities in gathering scientific data. It’s becoming a trend to find ways to incorporate ‘alternative’ communities in science. Whether it’s school kids or fishermen, studies like ours demonstrate that everyone can be a scientist.

For more information about the research published in Geoscientific Instrumentation Methods and Data Systems (GI) you can read the associated press release issued today to accompany the publication. You’ll also find the open-access paper by following this link.

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?

The best of Imaggeo in 2015: in pictures

The best of Imaggeo in 2015: in pictures

Last year we prepared a round-up blog post of our favourite Imaggeo pictures, including header images from across our social media channels and Immageo on Mondays blog posts of 2014. This year, we want YOU to pick the best Imaggeo pictures of 2015, so we compiled an album on our Facebook page, which you can still see here, and asked you to cast your votes and pick your top images of 2015.

From the causes of colourful hydrovolcanism, to the stunning sedimentary layers of the Grand Canyon, through to the icy worlds of Svaalbard and southern Argentina, images from Imaggeo, the EGU’s open access geosciences image repository, have given us some stunning views of the geoscience of Planet Earth and beyond. In this post, we highlight the best images of 2015 as voted by our Facebook followers.

Of course, these are only a few of the very special images we highlighted in 2015, but take a look at our image repository, Imaggeo, for many other spectacular geo-themed pictures, including the winning images of the 2015 Photo Contest. The competition will be running again this year, so if you’ve got a flare for photography or have managed to capture a unique field work moment, consider uploading your images to Imaggeo and entering the 2016 Photo Contest.

Different degrees of oxidation during hydrovolcanism, followed by varying erosion rates on Lanzarote produce brilliant colour contrasts in the partially eroded cinder cone at El Golfo. Algae in the lagoon add their own colour contrast, whilst volcanic bedding and different degrees of welding in the cliff create interesting patterns.

 Grand Canyon . Credit: Credit: Paulina Cwik (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Grand Canyon . Credit: Credit: Paulina Cwik (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

The Grand Canyon is 446 km long, up to 29 km wide and attains a depth of over a mile 1,800 meters. Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. This image was submitted to imaggeo as part of the 2015 photo competition and theme of the EGU 2015 General Assembly, A Voyage Through Scales.

Water reflection in Svalbard. Credit: Fabien Darrouzet (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Water reflection in Svalbard. Credit: Fabien Darrouzet (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Svalbard is dominated by glaciers (60% of all the surface), which are important indicators of global warming and can reveal possible answers as to what the climate was like up to several hundred thousand years ago. The glaciers are studied and analysed by scientists in order to better observe and understand the consequences of the global warming on Earth.

Waved rocks of Antelope slot canyon - Page, Arizona by Frederik Tack (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu).

Waved rocks of Antelope slot canyon – Page, Arizona by Frederik Tack (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu).

Antelope slot canyon is located on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona. The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.”
Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic ‘flowing’ shapes in the rock.

 Just passing Just passing. Credit: Camille Clerc (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Just passing. Credit: Camille Clerc (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

An archeological site near Illulissat, Western Greenland On the back ground 10 000 years old frozen water floats aside precambrian gneisses.

Sarez lake, born from an earthquake. Credit: Alexander Osadchiev (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Sarez lake, born from an earthquake. Credit: Alexander Osadchiev (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Beautiful Sarez lake was born in 1911 in Pamir Mountains. A landslide dam blocked the river valley after an earthquake and a blue-water lake appeared at more than 3000 m over sea level. However this beauty is dangerous: local seismicity can destroy the unstable dam and the following flood will be catastrophic for thousands Tajik, Afghan, and Uzbek people living near Mugrab, Panj and Amu Darya rivers below the lake.

Badlands national park, South Dakota, USA. Credit: Iain Willis (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Badlands national park, South Dakota, USA. Credit: Iain Willis (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Layer upon layer of sand, clay and silt, cemented together over time to form the sedimentary units of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA. The sediments, delivered by rivers and streams that criss-crossed the landscape, accumulated over a period of millions of years, ranging from the late Cretaceous Period (67 to 75 million years ago) throughout to the Oligocene Epoch (26 to 34 million years ago). Interbedded greyish volcanic ash layers, sandstones deposited in ancient river channels, red fossil soils (palaeosols), and black muds deposited in shallow prehistoric seas are testament to an ever changing landscape.

Late Holocene Fever. Credit: Christian Massari (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Late Holocene Fever. Credit: Christian Massari (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Mountain glaciers are known for their high sensitivity to climate change. The ablation process depends directly on the energy balance at the surface where the processes of accumulation and ablation manifest the strict connection between glaciers and climate. In a recent interview in the Gaurdian, Bernard Francou, a famous French glaciologist, has explained that the glacier depletion in the Andes region has increased dramatically in the second half of the 20th century, especially after 1976 and in recent decades the glacier recession moved at a rate unprecedented for at least the last three centuries with a loss estimated between 35% and 50% of their area and volume. The picture shows a huge fall of an ice block of the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the most studied glaciers for its apparent insensitivity to the recent global warming.

 Nærøyfjord: The world’s most narrow fjord . Credit: Sarah Connors (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Nærøyfjord: The world’s most narrow fjord . Credit: Sarah Connors (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Feast your eyes on this Scandinavia scenic shot by Sarah Connors, the EGU Policy Fellow. While visiting Norway, Sarah, took a trip along the world famous fjords and was able to snap the epic beauty of this glacier shaped landscape. To find out more about how she captured the shot and the forces of nature which formed this region, be sure to delve into this Imaggeo on Mondays post.

The August 2015 header images was this stunning image by Kurt Stuewe, which shows the complex geology of the Helvetic Nappes of Switzerland. You can learn more about the tectonic history of The Alps by reading this blog post on the EGU Blogs.

 (A)Rising Stone. Credit: Marcus Herrmann (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

(A)Rising Stone. Credit: Marcus Herrmann (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

The September 2015 header images completes your picks of the best images of 2015. (A)Rising Stone by Marcus Herrmann,  pictures a chain of rocks that are part of the Schrammsteine—a long, rugged group of rocks in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains located in Saxon Switzerland, Germany.

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/.