The first session I did was 'A virtual tour of Antarctica in 3D'. This involved us generating 3D images of the Antarctic Ice Sheet using GIS, in the form of ArcGIS, and data on the ice surface, ice velocity, surface temperature, bedrock and sea level - all of which had been collected from either satellite or field observations. Unfortunately I cannot show you the 3D images we made, so instead I am going to go through the facts, how the data we used was obtained and theory we were able to understand by making these images.
Antarctica is the major ice sheet in the southern hemisphere and the main ice sheet sits on the bedrock underneath - this is known as being grounded - and it was formed by snow falling on the land. The Antarctic ice sheet is different to the ice at the North Pole as this is floating sea ice (basically frozen sea water).
The second session I did was 'The influence of plants and soils on current and future rates of climate change' followed by the 'Slartibartfast training programme'. Both these sessions heavily involved practical work and so I havent really got much to say apart from the things we learnt from the practicals.
The first part of this afternoon session was spent looking at the carbon cycle and the role that plants and soils play in the uptake of carbon dioxide - which is rather big! Neither of the experiments we did in this half of the session worked as well as they should of done but they, eventually, demonstrated the key trends they were intended to. Soils take up and release quite a bit of carbon dioxide and the rate at which they do so is influenced by climate. We measured the carbon dioxide changes in two different soil samples, one being kept at freezing point and the other at 31 degrees Celcius, and this clearly showed that the soil in the hotter conditions released much more carbon dioxide - from this we then discussed the likely impacts of global climate change on soils and why droughts lead to net carbon emissions often greater than the annual amount released from North America. Then we did another small experiment to show the difference in the amount of carbon dioxide when plants are able to photosynthesis and when they are not. If I am being honest I am not 100% sure what the point of this was apart from the fact that, accompanied by the change that occured in carbon dioxide concentration when someone breathed into the appartus, all living organisms are part of the carbon cycle. After this we moved on into the Experimental Lab which is just a huge room filled with complicated looking tanks and buckets and buckets full of various bits of sediment. We started off with the scaled down model of a river leading into an alluvial fan and looked out how changes in condition, especially an increase in erosion in the upper stream, changes the characteristics of an alluvial fan which is not a static landform and so shouldnt really be built on - although many do! After looking at that we moved to the other, and rather wet end, of the room to look at the differences in the rate of erosion depending on the location of the strip of exposed soil, in this huge soil bed, that is exposed to the rain - when I say rain I literally mean that they have these pipes in the ceiling which, when turned on, generate rather a lot of rainfall! This also demonstrated the non-linear relationship between the depth of the water and the erosion and transportation of sediment.
Well apart from talks about applying and going to Exeter University, that is what me and a few others got up to today. It was quite an intersting day but unfortunately, without seeing the things I did for yourself, its hard to understand it or actually really gain much from it - so, apart from saying thanks to Nick for taking us up their today, that its from me tonight.