Challenging Habitat

Time for Geography‘ provides a series of educational resources aimed at a GCSE to undergraduate audience, which are also suitable for the general interested public. Even if you, as I am, keeping up to date with current environmental issues, there is always something to learn or terminology to be reminded of….

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The National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK, has a great outreach programme that includes a series of podcasts called Into the Blue.

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I have concluded the carbon footprint estimation for the Antarctic Quest 21 expedition and am happy to announce that the second stage of offsetting a total of 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent has also been completed. Download the report below to learn how it all was done.

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When the Royal Meteorological Society invited me to write a guest blog about the Antarctic Quest 21 expedition for their MetMatters page, I analysed the daily SitReps provided daily from the Antarctic Peninsula by expedition leader Paul Hart to provide an insight how the weather and ice conditions determined the experience and progress of the expedition team.

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The team safely back in Argentina and preparing to go their separate ways to rejoin families and pick up their lives back home, Paul find time for a concluding message.

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I have explained the background to the scientific projects we are supporting in a number of blog posts and on our website.

Now I provid an insight into what ‘doing science’ on the ice actually entails, with the example of sampling snow for metal analysis.

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As Antarctic Quest 21 draws to a close, the science team find time to send some video footage of what they have been doing.

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It was such fun to do this webinar for school kids from different ages and I was truly astonished what well-considered and pertinent questions I was asked. Well done, all of you!

There was one question I couldn’t answer at the time, but I looked it up after the webinar:

The amount of snow falling on Antarctica has been estimated to be around 2000 Gigatons per year. This is enough to cover the whole of Antarctica in 14 cm of water if it melted (or, as the estimate comes from Belgium, it would cover that country in 66 m of water).

The centre of Antarctica is relatively dry and most of the snow falls on the margins of the continent, in particular in on the Antarctic Peninsula and the West Antarctic Ice Shelf. To put it into a Southwest UK context, in terms of water, the western Antarctic Peninsula receives about as much as Dartmoor (around 2000 – 2500 mm).

So, what is a Gigaton? ‘Giga’ is the prefix for one billion (1 000 000 000 or 109). So, we are talking about 2 x 1012 tons or 2 x 1015 kg (1 000 000 000 000 000 kg).

The Antarctic Quest 21 expedition I’m supporting as scientific advisor has been beset by most arduous weather conditions – storms alternating with snow blizzards and zero visibility…

Nevertheless, the team are in good spirit and ingenious in repairing the damage to their tents and kit – rising to each challenge with the resilience and team spirit any team anywhere aspires to.

If you have an hour to spare, watch the zoom record of their Shackleton commemoration, tales from the ice and thanks to sponsors and patrons…