Showing posts from 2018

Diatoms - My Way into Science

by Xavier Benito

**Spoiler: While I personally have tons of admiration to those who leave academia after Master/PhD graduation, this post is dedicated to those early-career researchers who stay and continue along the bittersweet journey called academia **

To begin with, I could write about how today's early-career researchers' personal and professional lives are stressful. Instead, I will write about how important passion and curiousness about nature are in finding your way into science. Personally, I am fascinated by diatoms (Fig. 1), a group of siliceous glass-encased algae, because they can be used to understand past and present environmental conditions in nearly all aquatic ecosystems. Thus, during my PhD in Spain, I studied diatoms found in Mediterranean deltaic ecosystems by applying GIS, ecology and palaeoecology approaches. For example, in the Ebro Delta, I found a high diversity of diatoms (407 taxa to be exact) from only 24 samples! These results inspired me to contin…

The 8.2 ka Event Seen from the South

by Ignacio A. Jara

During my usual surfing on the internet catching up with new science content, I stumbled upon a very exciting article published just a few weeks ago in the journal Nature Scientific Reports [1]. In this recent publication, a climate cooling that occurred about 8,200 years ago was clearly identified in a pollen record from South Korea. This particular cooling [SPOILER ALERT] has largely been recognized in many other areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The article presented the first evidence for its occurrence in coastal East Asia. As a trained palynologist with interest in paleoclimatology I have always been fascinated by these kinds of studies. Nonetheless, I was equally intrigued by the fact that, as far as I know, there is not much evidence for such a cooling event in the Southern Hemisphere.

The original idea of writing this post was to share some outlooks about Quaternary Sciences from here in the Southern Hemisphere, something I did a few years ago during my Ph…

Science in Submarines

by Danielle Schimmenti

Welcome on board!

In the fall of 2017, during my first semester of graduate school, I joined the science team aboard the University of Hawaii’s R/V Ka’imikai-O-Kanaloa for a deep-sea submersible diving cruise. During the course of my 30 days at sea, we traveled to several seamounts (former islands now sunken beneath the ocean’s surface) in the Pacific. There we sent manned submersible vehicles to the ocean floor to do surveys of the overall health of the deep-sea coral reefs found there, as well as to collect some very rare live and fossil (dead) coral samples. I cannot reveal the names of the sites we visited or the exact nature of what we observed during our dives as this project is still ongoing, but I’d like to share a bit of what it was like doing research using submersible vehicles.

What is a submersible vehicle?

A submersible vehicle is a small submarine. Manned submersibles or human occupied submersible vehicles (HOVs), such as the ones used on my cruise,…

Searching for the Right Erratic Boulder

by Karol Tylmann

“I don’t want to look at stones anymore, they don’t say anything” [1]......but what if they do have something important to say to us?

I would like to share some experiences with you related to our studies of erratic boulders (Fig. 1) in north Poland. Erratics (chaotically dispersed in some regions) are stones of glacial origin. This post focuses on how to find the right erratic boulder to “catch” the ice sheet from Pleistocene – the geological epoch which lasted from about 2.5 million to 11 thousand years ago, often referred to as the Ice Age.

Glaciers and ice sheets grew and shrunk many times in response to past climate changes. It is important to know when and how fast it happened, to be able to predict future climate behaviour. But how can we date and reconstruct fluctuations of the Pleistocene ice sheets which disappeared completely ca 10 000 years ago? In fact, stones may be the answer!

Surface exposure dating with cosmogenic nuclides

Today, dating erratic boulders wi…

The EGU Mentoring Program - Tips on Attending the EGU as a First-Timer

by Nick Schafstall

Attending the EGU General Assembly for the first time

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is a union comprised of 12,500 scientists all over the world. Every year, the general assembly is organised in Vienna and is visited by a great number of people active in Geosciences. This year, a total of 15,000 people from 106 countries, promotional stands and conference staff not included, occupied the Austria Center Vienna from Sunday 7 until Friday 13 April. I was there for the first time, and as a Quaternary entomologist I felt a bit like an outsider.

When I initially applied for the EGU I had real difficulties finding a session which could include my research. My PhD research focuses on using subfossil beetle remains to reconstruct climate and landscapes to set up baselines in questions of nature and landscape conservation. This research topic would technically fall under Biogeosciences. However, none of the session descriptions seemed relevant for my PhD research. Yet I w…

Trials in Taxonomy: Popcorn, Spirals, and Roses

by Robyn Granger

In 2016, I worked as a teaching assistant to a group of biology and conservation undergraduates. Despite my taxonomy knowledge being rather limited (having done my Master's degree in Palaeoclimatology), the students never seemed to tire of asking me to identify various species in the field. It wasn't long before they began to affectionately quip “Robyn is a palaeoclimatologist - she knows nothing,” whenever I informed them that I was unable to tell them the difference between a plant that might kill them, and one that would be good rolled up in a cigarette.

Figure 1: Both of these organisms are the same species? Now I'm really confused...[1]

They would probably laugh if they could see me now. Two years later, I have found myself nose-deep in a PhD with a significant biological component, which involves picking out the subtlest of differences between tiny ocean-dwelling organisms called foraminifera. My project involves refining one of the chemical proxy met…

Newspaper Reports in Romania – What Do They Tell Us about Extreme Meteorological Events of the Early 19th Century?

by Aritina Haliuc

Sources of information

Extreme meteorological events, such as droughts or floods, are expected to increase in many parts of the globe under predicted climate changes of the next decades (Fig. 1). Yet, the forecasted frequency, intensity and occurrence of extreme meteorological events include large uncertainties as they depend upon location and season. These events are of particular interest for society as they can cause important human, economic and environmental losses.

To better understand extreme meteorological events and to improve future meteorological forecasts, we rely on information extracted from natural archives such as tree rings, peat bogs, lakes and fluvial deposits (associated with rivers and streams). Natural archives provide information over hundreds and thousands of years back in time and are complemented by historical and instrumental data in the more recent past spanning few centuries. 

Historical data include chronicles, monastery documents, ship log…