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Stuck

By Tanja

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, eh?

With my revolution slowly grinding to a halt (I haven’t decided about this yet) due to a very strong opposition, I have turned to better things to do. Like my own research. Mid July I have done my midterm and received excellent feedback and guidelines on how to proceed.

After a month off, I almost felt like working again, so I happily jumped into my glorious research. A month in – I am stuck again.

Behold! Most common geological formation in my glorious research.
Behold! Most common geological formation in my glorious research.

I am pretty sure a majority of you (if not all) know how this feels. After all, we have a word for it – the Valley of Shit. One moment you’re happily working on one aspect of your research feeling all good and mighty, and then… something creaksand stops.

You can’t move it. You try gently poking it, then pushing it, then you apply a crowbar, and then you straight out throw stuff at it hoping for some magic.

And the thing … doesn’t … even … budge … a little!

It turns into one of those things from fairy tales – you have to say some sort of magic words, but you don’t know what they are. You turn to other aspects of your research, all the while thinking – “I’ll get back to this” – and then after a while you realize those routes are blocked as well. They are all depending on those magic words.

Foreground: You. Background: Your current goal.
Foreground: You
Background: Your current goal

At times like these I feel like I have no clue as to what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it in the first place. I look around me and see my officemates staring at important looking figures and graphs on their screens, concentration welded into their faces. I hang out with other students and see them go after a while leaving me with the words “I have to try this” or “I have to do that”…. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing. When I ask them about it, they all say they feel exactly like me, most of the time. So how do you do it then? How do you find the magic words? What do you do after you’ve tried everything you could think of?

This is not the first time I’m stuck. In fact I think 75% of my PhD so far I was stuck. Usually I try everything I can. Then I try everything that is so stupid that I wouldn’t ever consider trying it, but I’m desperate. Sometimes, incredibly, this helps. Turns out your problem was something stupid that you hadn’t thought of, and you’re lucky – moving on, magic words worked.

Problem solving
Problem solving

If that doesn’t work, I despair for a while. Then I despair some more. Then I can’t take it anymore and I finally turn outwards for help. This means I go around and talk to people I think could help me. If they can’t help me, I turn to people who probably can’t help me, but I still do it. Among all the truly amazing people in this department someone will have the solution. Maybe it will be a direct solution to your particular problem (“I had this happened to me once…”), maybe it will just be an area of this person’s greater expertise (“let me just take a look at this one tiny detail here…”), maybe they will have a better idea than you, or they will come up with something you hadn’t thought of (“have you tried xy?”) or maybe they will just encourage you.

My most recent help came in the form of a very encouraging conversation just before lunch time today (October 1st). This wasn’t even related to my being stuck right now, it was a conversation addressing different problem entirely. But overall it made me look at things a bit differently – most of all, I left with the message that PhD is learning, it’s a process during which I am developing new skills that I can’t possibly learn anywhere else. And the important thing is people outside (the department, the academia…) will appreciate these skills, because not everyone has them.

It’s not easy, it was never supposed to be easy, but we are all developing skills and evolving in a particular way that makes us better at how we approach problems. Looking at it that way, I realize that I am actually working on myself as well as on my own project. And yes, I do want to be better at what I do and who I am, so I will try and take all the stuff I already threw at my immovable block and build them up so high that I can climb over it. Probably this stuff will collapse a few times, I will be frustrated still, but I will find a way to climb it.

How do you deal with your immovable blocks?

Betting on climate change will not get you money

By Tanja

Over the course of the past few weeks I have been reading quite a lot about climate all over the news. El Nino and La Nina events have been mentioned on a few occasions. I was always fascinated by these events, even as a kid, when I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what they were (but they do sound cool right?). Later on, as education slowly crept on me, I learned exactly what they were and how they impact the world.

But did I really understand how they ACTUALLY IMPACT the world?

Of course not!

I was born, raised and gained my masters-level education in Croatia, a country that doesn’t directly feel the impacts of either. My Oceanography and Dynamic-Meteorology teachers have put quite an effort to demonstrate the devastating and/or benevolent impacts of El Nino and La Nina events – depending on the part of the world. I had to derive some fearsome equations and was awarded with pictures of drought or floods all over the world, of people moving countries etc. For me personally, this probably meant that the price of some imported fish or seed was going up.

Right now, I live and study in Australia. And it seems, that an El Nino event will come crashing down on my head (and many other heads). And it will finally manifest itself to me in all its power. Probably some prices will go up too.

El Nino is a part of a natural cycle known as El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that manifests itself in prolonged periods of warming (El Nino) or cooling (La Nina) over the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.

In neutral mode we have the trade winds blowing from east to west across the Pacific, pushing warmer surface waters towards the western Pacific and causing convection in that area. The Central Pacific is kept relatively cool. The thermocline is deeper in the west than in the east. This means, that the ocean temperature gradient is not very steep in the west, which in turn means the water is warmer there.

During the El Nino conditions the trade winds are weakened or even reversed which allows this body of warm water to float further east and cause convection elsewhere. This also levels out the thermocline a bit. Now – without further ado – this means drought in Australia. It means rain and possible floods in Kiribati and Peru.

elnino
Neutral and El Nino Systems over the Pacific Ocean
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

To me this means – seriously, even warmer summers? And a drought? In a country where water is already an expensive commodity?

Wonderful. I am affected now. Probably some prices will go up to!

Since this is a natural cycle it might prompt some people, like say …

… the government …

…. to deny climate changes. And the current prime minister here is adamant in trying to convince this nation that there is no such thing as man induced climate change.

Now let’s take a look at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology brief explanation as to what might cause the El Nino conditions:

“An El Niño occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become substantially warmer than average, and this causes a shift in atmospheric circulation.”

Brilliant, I have established something similar above. So we have a natural occurring phenomenon here, but it is interesting to see that this phenomenon has gained a substantial power over the last few decades (see for example here, Pages 8 and 9). Now I won’t go into proving and showing that some aspects of climate change are man induced, others have done so, repeatedly (as in – many times). But on the low chance of Tony Abbot reading this – yes, climate changes have occurred naturally during the geological past of this planet. But not on the scale we are observing now. Climate change may not be something new on the face of this planet, but we – humans – are empowering it. Making it bigger, faster, stronger. The upcoming El Nino may be another record-breaking one, because the ocean is just a tad warmer, thanks to us. And it is affecting me and millions of other people directly.

And just to top it off, a scientist is offering a 10000$ reward to anyone who can use scientific methods to prove that man-made climate change is NOT real.

Tony Abbot should jump on that boat. He should actually hope that this boat wouldn’t be turned back too. I think proving something like that would be an ultimate win-win situation – someone would get the reward AND go down in history. While everyone else would be able to happily exhale in relief, knowing that it is not us messing up this planet, it is completely natural. We could happily live our lives, knowing that there really is NOTHING we can do to prevent this. And just imagine what the 10000$ would do to the budget! Probably some prices would go down too.

Plastic all around us

By Magda.

On this blog we have covered the topic of the marine garbage patch on several occasions (for example here, here and here) as well as how important recycling of plastic waste is. So far, most research was focussed on the influence of plastic on the marine environment, but recently several articles have drawn attention to micro-particles of plastic in lakes.

The first study to focus on this issue was conducted on the great lakes and found large amounts of micro-plastic within the lake (up to 466,000 particles/km2). The researchers attributed many of the perfectly spherical particles to the use of cosmetic products containing micro beads. Due to the small size these particles cannot be filtered and eventually will end up in our water ways.

worms
Clitellate worm (B,C) Fluorescent image of the mid-body showing fluorescent microplastic particles (white arrows) in the digestive tract. From Imhof et al., Contamination of beach sediments of a subalpine lake with microplastic particles, Current biology, 2013

And they are harmful – not only to the environment, as shown by another study conducted on Lake Garda, which found plastic in the digestion system of worms and other freshwater species, which is a starting point to introduce plastic into the food cycle and thus plastic will end up on our plates as well.

Unfortunatly micro-plastic will also form due to degradation of bigger plastic particles.

And, it doesn’t even stop there:

Micro-plastic is small and light enough to get transported by wind and has been detected in several products that we consume, including milk, honey and drinking water (found by a Swiss consumer affairs TV report). And most likely this list will get a lot longer, following more studies on this topic.

Many manufactures of cosmetic products using micro-beads (used in many toothpastes and body/facial scrub,…) have agreed to not use micro-plastic in their products from 2015. However, this will not solve the problem completely, since micro-particles of plastic are also formed by degradation of larger items.

Testing the Waters: First Experience of Research

By Rachel Kirby

Last week I completed my first seminar as a research student. I was nervous, very nervous. Not so much about standing up and presenting, but about the questions that would inevitably follow. As an Honours student it was my first experience presenting my own research project to a number of academics. Up until now presentations were based upon what we had read in the literature or smaller research assignments, and presented only to our peers and the lecturer. This was a whole new ball game.

Honours is certainly different to the coursework of the first few years of an undergraduate degree. No longer do you have constant small assessment pieces, imposed structure on your day with lectures and labs, or accountability to your lecturers. Instead it is up to you. Assessment consists of just a few large pieces, you choose what you do each day, and you are only accountable to yourself. It is a change that teaches you about self-discipline, motivation and organisation.

All this responsibility comes because you have your own project. This is probably the best thing about Honours, and why I am enjoying it so much. Working on a project that is unearthing new data, new ways of looking at a problem, and new answers is very rewarding. It is a great feeling knowing that you are adding something new and unique to the field. Progressing knowledge of an area is an exciting prospect.

So how did the presentation go? Well I survived, and I am still here at university working on my Honours project. Questions helped prompt me into where to go from here, and were a good reminder of the challenges I will face this year. Squishing a research project into less than nine months will be one of the biggest challenges, and the temptation is always to think big. Maybe a little too big in my case. However come October (when I submit my thesis) I will know how achievable my project was.

Until then I had better get back to the lab, or read some papers, or try and work out exactly how I am going to tackle this project. Seven months left… and counting!

Best of 2013: How do clouds effect solar panel output?

welcompage_headshot
Nick Engerer, a researcher from Fenner School is looking at the relationship between weather events and solar energy output in Canberra.

By Claire

At the beginning of this year, I was at the annual AMOS Conference in Melbourne. It was Friday morning, and there wasn’t a lot of paleoclimatology going on, so I decided to head along to a session on solar energy.

Speaking in this session was Nick Engerer, a researcher from Fenner School at The ANU. Nick’s area of interest is the link between weather events and solar energy output. Now, this is an area of huge interest, especially now that we’re trying to move more towards green energy sources. But one of the key questions that keeps popping up is, “what happens when it’s cloudy?”

As part of Nick’s research, he has developed a real-time website, which shows you the weather across Canberra, and the related impact on solar energy production. Nick is working on the idea that on partly cloudy days, there will be at least some solar panels that are still able to produce power, even if some are not seeing a lot of the sun. And that’s exactly what you can see on his website.

Nick has written up a guest post for us to explain how to use his website, and introduce you to some of the cool features. I encourage you all to take a look. If you’re interested in his work, you can also subscribe to his blog and follow him on twitterContinue reading “Best of 2013: How do clouds effect solar panel output?”

Best of 2013: OSEARCH presents a new kind of science… Duuun dun duuun dun…

By Ali (guest blogger)

Science is awesome. Sharks are awesome. And, when you combine the two, you get this!

shark1

I’ve been following this research group called OSEARCH for a while now and they do some pretty wild things. Including tagging and releasing Great White Sharks or White Pointers like Amy (pictured above). See OSEARCH’s Global shark tracker here or follow on facebook. There are a lot of unexplained mysteries when it comes to white pointers. shark2Until recently, very little was known about migratory patterns, where and when they breed, and their general behavior. OSEARCH has provided the means for marine scientist to go beyond traditional methods of obtaining data on apex predators. Through direct on-deck observations, as well as tagging and satellite tracking systems, our understanding of the biology and behavior of these sharks has skyrocketed. Check out this great news broadcast that describes OSEARCH’s work.

shark3A paper released this year (Domeir and Nasby-Lucas 2013) has investigated the migratory patterns of 4 adult female white pointers (using the satellite tagging programs made possible by OSEARCH) and found distinct seasonal migration patterns for northeastern Pacific white sharks. Their findings show these female sharks have a 2-year long migration course, compared to the male’s 1-year migration. It is speculated that female gestation lasts for about 18 months and they spend much of this time offshore. Interestingly, the preferred prey for these pregnant females is unknown, although both male and female migratory paths shark4overlap with three species of spawning squid and sperm whales, but no small marine mammals, suggesting unique feeding regimens (see here Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, for Hollywood dramatization).

On top of what little we actually know about these astounding creatures, shark populations are declining in many parts of the world, with 30% of species threatened or near-threatened with extinction. It is difficult to build conservation and management strategies when so little is known about the sharks themselves or what is causing their decline in numbers. OSEARCH’s groundbreaking research will help scientists to discover more about these beautiful creatures and will help to protect one of the planets most revered apex predators.

shark5

Putting Science into Perspective

dinoland_umbrellaBy Jen (guest blogger)

I’m the first member of my family to go into science, so it wasn’t surprising that my parents have had a lot of questions about what I do (paleoclimatology), especially since they want to try to brag about me explain my work to their friends and colleagues.  Eventually, we got past the usual responses:

“Huh?”

“Oh, that’s like weather, right?”

“So… global warming?  Are we doomed?”

And now, when my parents ask me what I do, I can go into more detail than ‘old climate.’ Back when I was doing my Masters’ in New York, I was creating a 2000-year record of Atlantic tropical sea surface temperatures.  Upon hearing the words ‘two thousand years’, my parents were astonished.

“Wow, that’s a long time!”

My father was very confused about why it was important for us to know whether or not dinosaurs needed umbrellas.  I explained to him, “No, Dad, this is long after the dinosaurs went extinct.  This is information relevant to human society.”

My current PhD research is a 15,000-year record of Indonesian rainfall.

“So now you’re looking at dinosaur weather?”

“No, Dad, still no dinosaurs.  This is thousands of years ago.  Dinosaurs were millions of years ago.”

“Right…”

There’s still a skeptical tone in his voice as if saying, “Thousands?  Millions?  What’s the difference?”

And it becomes apparent that it’s all just big numbers to him.  How do I make him (and the rest of the world) understand the difference between a thousand or a million or a billion?  Continue reading “Putting Science into Perspective”

LADEE and the Lunar Atmosphere

lunar1
Fig. 1: Launch of the the Minotaur V rocket carrying LADEE.

By Thomas (guest blogger)

On the 6th of September NASA launched their LADEE mission (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) into space (Fig. 1). You might have heard of the launch as a frog photo-bombed a picture of the start (Fig. 2). So far the mission is fully on track. The mission will take about 30 days to travel to the Moon, 30 days for checkout and then around 100 days for science operations (Fig. 3).

So what`s hidden in that featureless term “science operations”?

The LADEE spacecraft contains three science instruments: The Ultraviolet and Visible Light Spectrometer (UVS), the Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) and the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX). The instruments will analyse the light signatures of atmospheric materials, the variations in the composition of the lunar atmosphere in different heights over the Moon and dust particles in the atmosphere.

Fig. 2: Photo bombed LADEE launch.  http://www.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/frog-photobomb-nasa-launch-2.jpg
Fig. 2: Photo bombed LADEE launch.

Furthermore LADEE carries the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) which will not be used to investigate the lunar atmosphere. The purpose of the LLCD is to demonstrate the possibility to use lasers for communication with satellites and spacecrafts instead of the conventionally used radio transmitters. This will allow broadband speed in the communications between future satellites/spacecrafts and Earth. LADEE therefore does not only have research goals but also aims to make a major improvement in space flights from the engineering point of view. Continue reading “LADEE and the Lunar Atmosphere”

Back to the Past

By Malte (guest blogger)

Last week the RSES Student Conference was upon us. This is an annual event that gives the students at RSES the opportunity to present their research to the School in a short 5 minute presentation. The more than 40 talks covered most of Earth History and reflected the huge range of projects going on in this school.

Continue reading “Back to the Past”

The Great Barrier Reef faces destruction

reefBy Bianca (guest blogger)

Australia’s new prime minister has given the green light for mining companies to destroy Australia’s natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2300 km along the coast of Queensland and is home to around a quarter of all species that can be found in the world’s oceans. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981 the reef recently faces one of its hardest battles: a changing climate.

Sediment and algal overgrowth have overtaken this once-healthy reef. (Courtesy Emre Turak/Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Sediment and algal overgrowth have overtaken this once-healthy reef. (Courtesy Emre Turak/Australian Institute of Marine Science)

Rising ocean acidity due to high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and increasing water temperatures damages the corals; floods and storms flush mud, pesticides and fertilizers from farmland into the ocean and mining companies pollute the reef by dumping silt into the ocean and letting their freighters pass through. Continue reading “The Great Barrier Reef faces destruction”

Rage Against the Machine

By Kate H (guest blogger)

Machine
Scumbag multiple collector-ICP-MS often doesn’t feel like working!

I have a love-hate relationship with many of the inductively coupled plasma type machines I use to perform analyses on seawaters and foram shells. Today was another multi-hour long battle, which fuelled some thoughts on the joy of smashing up machines, until I came across a study* from the University of Duisburg-Essen, in Germany in which humans were found to empathise with robots. This made me think, would I feel bad during my abusive actions… Continue reading “Rage Against the Machine”

Paleoecology in far North Queensland – a *summer* fieldtrip

A view from the top – looking down as we descend into Bromfield Swamp, one of the many swamps we visited.

By Will (guest blogger)

On the 30th June I boarded a plane to Cairns in far north tropical Queensland for a field trip for a Global Summer Programme (GSP) Course, ‘Biodiversity and Climate Change in the Asia Pacific Region’. The GSP is an initiative by the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) to offer students a chance to study intensive courses abroad. Courses are hosted at numerous universities around the globe covering topics from global development to Chinese culture.

I had the smart idea of applying for the course hosted by my own university meaning I missed the chance to travel abroad. Though while the humour of the phrase ‘Global Summer…” was not lost on all of the programs international students, in Canberra I must admit that the chance to travel up north during the bitterest month on the calendar was well appreciated. Continue reading “Paleoecology in far North Queensland – a *summer* fieldtrip”

If we never landed on the Moon, where are the samples from?

Figure 1: The good old “But the flag moved so there must be atmosphere” argument.
Figure 1: The good old “But the flag moved so there must be atmosphere” argument.

By Thomas

To get one thing straight from the beginning: What I don`t want to do in this post is to discuss different Moon hoax theories, and the “evidence” for them (e.g. Fig. 1), as well as the arguments that were laid out to counter these Moon hoax claims. There are enough websites and videos out there already dealing with that matter. For those who are interested in that, this video might be a good one to start with.

What I want to do is the following gedankenexperiment: If the Moon landings were faked, were do the samples come from?

What do I mean by samples?

According to the Lunar Sourcebook (HEIKEN et al., 1991) the six Apollo missions that landed successful on the Moon brought back 2196 samples, which by 1989 were split up into 78,000 subsamples. This splitting allows NASA, apart from doing there one research on the samples, to send subsamples to researchers all over the world and let them study the samples. That means the rocks were and are intensely studied. How intense? Well if you want to get an idea about that you can browse a bit through the Lunar Sample Compendium. There you find summed up the relevant information gathered over the years on each sample. Of course not all samples are studied to the same extent. You`ll find samples like the impact melt 14310, which has a two and a half site reference list alone, or samples like 14425, which has “only” nine references. As it is a glass sphere – 0.8 cm in diameter – that is still quite impressive. All in all, there is a lot of information available about the samples.

I guess, on this basis I can assume everyone agrees that these samples exist?

No, because the bastards at NASA faked all the research on the samples and all the people who supposedly worked on the samples all over the world are part of the cover-up of the Moon hoax!”

Please. Do yourself a favour. Take a long walk in the park to get some air.

Okay, back to the topic. If we accept the existence of the Apollo samples the interesting question arising is:

Where are they from?

Well there are two answers to that question:

1.)  They are from the Moon.

2.)  They are not.

On the first option: Under the assumption for our gedankenexperiment that the Moon landings were a hoax, how do we get the samples to Earth?

Continue reading “If we never landed on the Moon, where are the samples from?”

OSEARCH presents a new kind of science… Duuun dun duuun dun…

By Ali (guest blogger)

Science is awesome. Sharks are awesome. And, when you combine the two, you get this!

shark1

I’ve been following this research group called OSEARCH for a while now and they do some pretty wild things. Including tagging and releasing Great White Sharks or White Pointers like Amy (pictured above). See OSEARCH’s Global shark tracker here or follow on facebook. There are a lot of unexplained mysteries when it comes to white pointers. shark2Until recently, very little was known about migratory patterns, where and when they breed, and their general behavior. OSEARCH has provided the means for marine scientist to go beyond traditional methods of obtaining data on apex predators. Through direct on-deck observations, as well as tagging and satellite tracking systems, our understanding of the biology and behavior of these sharks has skyrocketed. Check out this great news broadcast that describes OSEARCH’s work.

shark3A paper released this year (Domeir and Nasby-Lucas 2013) has investigated the migratory patterns of 4 adult female white pointers (using the satellite tagging programs made possible by OSEARCH) and found distinct seasonal migration patterns for northeastern Pacific white sharks. Their findings show these female sharks have a 2-year long migration course, compared to the male’s 1-year migration. It is speculated that female gestation lasts for about 18 months and they spend much of this time offshore. Interestingly, the preferred prey for these pregnant females is unknown, although both male and female migratory paths shark4overlap with three species of spawning squid and sperm whales, but no small marine mammals, suggesting unique feeding regimens (see here Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, for Hollywood dramatization).

On top of what little we actually know about these astounding creatures, shark populations are declining in many parts of the world, with 30% of species threatened or near-threatened with extinction. It is difficult to build conservation and management strategies when so little is known about the sharks themselves or what is causing their decline in numbers. OSEARCH’s groundbreaking research will help scientists to discover more about these beautiful creatures and will help to protect one of the planets most revered apex predators.

shark5

Social Media and Science

Image Credit – genomicenterprise.com
Image Credit – genomicenterprise.com

By Will (guest blogger)

Last week the ANU played host to a panel of some of the most liked, viewed and shared people in the world. This probably sounds odd so allow me to elaborate. They are all science communicators who operate exclusively through social media.

The night itself was a chance for each guest to share their insights and experiences in science communication using social media. Each of these guests has built up an incredibly strong following for their particular content. This is interesting because of the challenges presented by social media; content can struggle to gain attention and you have to actively attract people to view it. The impact these communicators have is even more impressive considering the resources they have to work with. That and I’ve never got 40,000 likes on one of my Facebook posts…

So who are these social media science communicators, and more importantly how have they achieved so much success. Continue reading “Social Media and Science”

Temperature distribution in snow, firn and ice

firnBy Bianca

The temperature plays an important role in the behaviour of snow.

If it’s too warm the snow will just melt, but if it’s cold enough the snow turns into firn and eventually, into glacier ice. How long the transition from snow to ice takes strongly depends on the temperature.

The temperature that has occurred at the surface can take up to millennia to propagate through the glacier ice. That means temperature with depth can provide information on past variations in surface temperatures.

For my study of a firn compaction model, the temperature plays an important role in the speed of snow densification, and so we need to find a way to calculate the temperature distribution with depth. Continue reading “Temperature distribution in snow, firn and ice”

Palaeoclimate studies from Expedition 342 of the IODP

Sediment core repository at Lamont Doherty in New York.
Sediment core repository at Lamont Doherty in New York.

By Will (guest blogger)

What will the earth be like in the future? This is quite a poignant question, one that many people want answered in no uncertain terms. A useful step in addressing such a question is to answer a similar one. What was earth’s climate like in the past?

We can collect evidence for changes in the earth’s climate from a variety of natural records. What one looks at is largely determined by when one wants to look, ice-cores, for example, provide an invaluable insight for the past 800,000 years. But for scientists hoping to see back as far as 50 million years, this required drilling sediment 4.5 km below the ocean surface. Continue reading “Palaeoclimate studies from Expedition 342 of the IODP”

The journey of a snowflake – from snow to ice

GlacierBy Bianca

Have you heard about firn? No? Well, then maybe you don’t know as much about snow as you thought you do. At least that’s how it was for me before my research taught me more about glaciers.

IceCrystalsThe transition from snow to ice is easy. It all starts with the fall of single snowflakes in an environment cold enough for it not to melt – the first step in the formation of glacier ice. Once the snow settled it is exposed to changes and the little crystals of the fresh powder snow soon transforms to a different material due to climatic conditions.

Here we are, you just learned what firn represents. Continue reading “The journey of a snowflake – from snow to ice”

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