Report on the UKPN Workshop: Modelling In the Polar Sciences

The UKPN Modelling in the polar sciences workshop ran from the 2nd to the 4th of April 2012 in the Geography department at the University of Sheffield. It was attended by 30+ masters students, PhD students and early-career researchers all interested in learning about mathematical modelling and how it is applied in the polar sciences. Participants enjoyed talks and practicals covering topics from ice ages to ice divides delivered by a range of highly respected academics. Felix Ng, Sheffield, began the workshop with an introduction to mathematical modelling providing a useful summary of the different types and uses of modelling, and sharing his love of the subject by describing the links between hydrodynamics and horse locomotion. Next, Michael Griffiths from the Sheffield computing department introduced us to the Sheffield supercomputer which we used to compile and run models during the rest of the workshop. Andrew Fowler, Limerick, then ran a computer practical where participants gained experience of modelling ice ages. Later in the afternoon participants got a chance to present their work in a poster session. Judges Felix Ng, Iestyn Barr, Queens Marys, and Ian Rutt, Swansea, chose Edward Gasson’s poster entitled ‘Modelling the onset of Cenozoic Antarctic glaciation’ as the winning of the poster prize which was presented at the end of the workshop.

Participants enjoying modelling ice ages during Andrew Fowler’s computer practical. From left to right: Jonathan Day, Leeds; Christopher Williams, Leeds; Eleanor Darlington, Loughborough; Aisling Dolan, Leeds.

The next day began with talks about the GLIMMER-community ice sheet model from Ian Rutt and Stephen Livingstone, Sheffield, and a practical run by Ian aimed at teaching students how to compile and run GLIMMER for themselves. That afternoon Richard Hodgkins, Loughborough, gave a talk and ran a practical on the modelling of the glacier hydrology using linear reservoir and time-series approaches. That evening the conference dinner was held at a local restaurant called The Milestone. The next morning Grant Bigg, Sheffield, and Pete Nienow, Edinburgh, presented interesting talks about the Arctic’s contribution to Heinrich events and hydrological observations in West Greenland. These were followed by a talk and practical run by Richard Hindmarsh, British Antarctic Survey, about ice divides and grounding line stability. The workshop provided an opportunity for young scientists to interact with each other and with some of the most respected and established academics in their respective fields. Everyone who attended took a huge amount from the event both academically and socially. I would like to thank all the people who helped organise the workshop, including but not limited to: Iestyn Barr, Jeremy Ely, Stephen Livingstone, Sarah Wrathmell, Tom Hurst, Amir Levy, John Owen. I would also like to thank Sheffield University for use of the Geography Department and supercomputing facilities and Foreign and Commonwealth Office for funding that made the workshop possible. Jonathan Kingslake, University of Sheffield.

Modelling In the Polar Sciences Workshop – April 2012

The use of mathematical modelling is becoming increasingly important in all areas of science. This spring, the UKPN will continue our highly successful programme of workshops bringing early career polar scientists together to meet and learn about specific areas of the discipline. This free workshop will focus on the use of modelling in the polar sciences. It will be held at the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of April 2012. Following the format of previous successful UKPN workshops, we will be organising lectures and practical sessions that will cover a broad range of polar science-related subjects where mathematical modelling plays a role. These will to be led by a number of highly respected academics including Grant Bigg, Sheffield; Andrew Fowler, Oxford; Edward Hanna, Sheffield; Richard Hindmarsh, British Antarctic Survey; Richard Hodgkins, Loughborough; Pete Nienow, Edinburgh; Felix Ng, Sheffield and Ian Rutt, Swansea and more! As well as lectures and practical sessions, the workshop will include sessions on the basics of modelling, poster sessions where participants will be encouraged to present their work (modelling-based or otherwise), careers discussions, and a group dinner where we will get a chance to properly meet each other and enjoy an evening out in Sheffield! This workshop is aimed at early career polar scientists (Masters, PhD and Post-docs) who already make use of modelling or are interested in doing so, not just people who are already knowledgeable in the field. We aim to integrate the skills of students with modelling experience with those who wish to develop skills in this important aspect of research. It will be great to welcome a broad range of Polar Scientists to Sheffield in April! Please keep an eye on the mailing list and here on the UKPN website for more details regarding when you can sign up! For further details please contact: Jonny Kingslake - University of Sheffield Stephen Livingstone - University of Sheffield Amir Levy - Keele University and Iestyn Barr - Queen Mary University of London

School outreach opportunities in India!

In November 2011, UKPN member and Sheffield-based PhD student Sonal Choudhary visited her native India to enlighten young people at three different schools about the opportunities in polar science. Sonal’s inspiring campaign reached several hundred Indian schoolchildren, their teachers and representatives from Indian media organisations. Sonal informed her audiences in presentations on her research work and the broader importance of polar science, entertained with stories of living and working in polar regions, and answered questions from many newly-inspired polar enthusiasts about how to take up a polar science career, her motivation for choosing an unusual career and how she travelled from their small town, via the UK, to the high Arctic. We thank the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for funding these school visits. If you would like to run a schools visit, get in touch!

UKPN and APECS at AGU Fall 2011

Prior to the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting held in San Francisco at the beginning of December 2011, APECS and POLARTREC ( hosted a Polar Information Station as part of the public engagement session undertaken at the conference. UKPN representatives Matthias Kunz, Sian Henley, Aisling Dolan and Allen Pope all helped out at the Polar Station. There was a display of Arctic tundra, a demonstration of how to make your own ice core and the gear so that children could feel what it would be like to become the next generation of Polar explorers! Over 250 people visited our Polar Station and much fun was had by all!  

Enthusing the next generation in San Francisco at AGU Fall


Polar outreach day in Leeds

On Monday 28th November 2011, UKPN member and University of Leeds PhD student Chris Williams educated and enthralled sixty children aged 7-8 about science and exploration in the Arctic region. Chris treated the budding polar enthusiasts to a fascinating photo presentation, lively discussions, real-life displays and interactive exercises to show the wonder and challenge of living and working in the Arctic environment. Feedback from the children and teachers was excellent and all participants went away with an appreciation of and fascination for the polar regions, and many future explorers were inspired!

Summary of UKPN at RGS Explore 2011!

In mid-November of 2011, Laura Hobbs and Thomas Perriment from the UKPN committee attended the Royal Geographical Society’s annual Expedition and Fieldwork Planning weekend – Explore. Set in the heart of London, the theme of the conference could not have had a less city feel to it; and with every lecture and workshop, it felt as though the doors to the world were opening a little more. After their own expedition-worthy journey from Plymouth to London, Laura and Tom set up their poster that would inform delegates and speakers about the UKPN, its aims and its benefits to early career scientists. Throughout the weekend, they were inundated with questions about the Polar Network, and people were amazed to find that this resource and wealth of information was available to them. They had a lot of interest in the workshops and outreachevents coming up this year, and I think it is safe to say that this interest will grow as word spreads throughout the expedition community. Laura said, "It was a pleasure to be part of such an exciting and inspiring event, and also great to meet many UKPN members, both new additions and those who have previously been involved." So what can we takeaway from Explore for the UKPN? Although predominantly explorers and adventurers, many delegates were interested in getting some scientific information to support their expeditions which may not have a research theme at their core. Thomas said, "The support available to expeditions and research trips in both physical and life sciences, as well as anthropology is vast, this is where the UK Polar Network can assist you and your team." Would you like to assist with expeditions and inform the team about research in the area? The interest in outreach work was quite frankly overwhelming… Let’s run with this and really put the UKPN out there in terms of engaging the future generation in Polar research. The Explore weekend is a great way to go about designing your own Polar expedition or research trip. The RGS and the staff are brimming with information, and their breadth of knowledge is incomparable and seems never-ending. If you have any ideas that you would like to discuss, please contact the RGS or contact the UK Polar Network can get you in contact with the right people

Summary of biology and ecosystems workshop

The workshop ‘High latitude biology, ecosystems and the future; A multidisciplinary approach’ organised by Coleen Suckling ran for 2 days mid November in the British Antarctic Survey. This was the first biology based workshop from the UK Polar Network’s career development series which saw twenty-three early career stage participants arrive to network in Cambridge. Excellent talks were provided by keynote speakers discussing multi-disciplinary science and future insights for the Arctic (Ray Leakey; Scottish Association for Marine Science), Antarctic (Andy Clarke; British Antarctic Survey) and acclimations and adaptations on the polar regions (Melody Clark; BAS). Some of which will soon be available to view on the APECS website ( The participants were given opportunities to network through producing media aimed talks on their fields. Using information generated from the talks and the skill sets of the participant’s mini-mock grant proposals were generated on mutually agreed important polar questions. Future insights on these questions were discussed to determine how approaches proposed to answer them today may change over the next decade. Interestingly the participants drew to similar conclusions – molecular and satellite applications will become increasingly important in the future! Participants also presented their work to each other through a poster session. Alan Rodger (Science Leader, BAS) closed the meeting with his inspirational talk ‘Where is environmental science going?’. He informed the participants that the 21st century is the century for biologists due to the urgency to understand the repercussions of rapid climate change on ecosystems and highlighted the importance on utilizing a multidisciplinary approach. The organizer would like to thank everyone who helped and participated in the workshop, particularly to the British Antarctic Survey.

Keynote speaker Andrew Clarke


ISAES XI and Outreach at Our Dynamic Earth

The 11th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences in Edinburgh, UK, was a resounding success for the UK Polar Network, APECS, all those in attendance and polar science as a whole!

A record number of delegates attended ISAES XI, with over 500 registrations for the five-day conference. This conference was such a success for early career researchers as we made up almost a quarter of all participants and represented over 30 countries!

ISAES awarded partial funding to over 40 early career scientists to enable them to attend the conference. Enormous thanks to SCAR and the ISAES XI Steering Committee for this generous financial support.

Alongside the impressive and varied ground-breaking science at the ISAES XI conference, there was an exciting programme of events for early career scientists…

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Remote Sensing for Polar Scientists Summer School

We are proud to report the successful conclusion of the Remote Sensing for Polar Scientists summer school. This, the second of two UK Polar Network events supported by the Earth Observation Technology Cluster, was arranged in conjunction with the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) and hosted by the NCEO at the meteorology department, University of Reading.
The aim of the summer school was to bring together ~30 students who were early in their research careers and introduce a variety of applications & techniques for the use of remotely sensed data in Polar & Cryospheric Science.
All students were invited to bring a poster detailing their own work, and almost all attendees took advantage of the opportunity. Displayed throughout the school in the room where refreshments were served, the posters inspired many lively discussions. A poster prize was awarded to Catharine Walker from University of Michigan for her clear & concise presentation on “Ice sheet dynamics applied to global ice shell of Enceladus.” Honorable mentions went to Rachael Turton for the most creative poster introduction any of us had ever heard, and to Tom Cowton for his poster on “Drainage system structure and evolution of a Greenland outlet glacier.”
Our first keynote, Andrew Shepherd, University of Leeds got the school off to a flying start with a lecture on Greenland & a practical introducing the use of feature tracking in optical satellite imagery (with Aud Sundal, University of Leeds). This session was complimented by a session from Seymour Laxon & Katharine Giles (Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling, University College London), about the Croyosat mission & remote sensing of Arctic sea ice. It was inspiring to hear about the design, implementation & now validation of the first results from Cryosat from people who have been involved in the story from start to finish.
The second day of the school saw presentation on the remote sensing and modeling of snow cover by Nick Rutter (University of Northumbria), Debbie Clifford (NCEO), and Mel Sandells (University of Reading); a related practical gave students a better understanding of the satellite-derived measurements of snow water equivalent. This was followed by a presentation by Pauline Miller (Newcastle University) on the use of LiDAR in building digital elevation models and some glaciological applications. Pauline also led a practical where students were able to use and interact with LiDAR data from a glaciated area in Svalbard. These sessions really gave students the opportunity gain familiarity with many new data types and their applications.
Paul Hardaker (Chief Executive, Royal Meteorological Society) spoke at dinner about the importance of sharing our science with a wider audience. This tied into a groupwork session run through the school in which students put together a modular presentation that aimed to introduce the use of Remote Sensing in different areas of Polar Science to those following us up the career ladder. The completed presentation aimed at early undergraduate / A-level will be available in the near future through APECS and the EO Tech Cluster.
The final day of the school included a practice presentation of the outreach materials created by the students, an introduction to European Space Agency (ESA) satellite data and open-source software to interact with it (Chris Stewart, ESA), and a final keynote delivered by Stephen Briggs (Head of ESA’s EO Science, Applications & Future Technologies Department). His wide-ranging talk on how Earth Observation can, has, and will contribute to a better understanding of the Earth and its climate gave a terrific capstone to the whole course.
Attendees shared that they appreciated the ability of the instructors to link together fieldwork, remote sensing & modeling in a variety of ways. The organizers (Debbie Clifford, Jen Hall, and Matthias Kunz) would like to extend a huge thanks to all the sponsors and instructors who made the school so enjoyable and educational. Based on the success of this event, the UKPN hopes to run another remote sensing summer school in the coming years.

Career mentor panel at IGS-BB 2011

The UK Polar Network will be hosting a Career Mentoring Panel at the British Antarctic Survey during the IGS British Branch Meeting (7-8th September). In addition to the scientific program, the panel will be a great opportunity for early career researchers to ask mentors questions about taking the next steps in their careers. This is open to all early career scientists registered at the meeting: The IGS British Branch Annual Meeting is an informal two-day meeting at which presentations are welcome on all aspects of ice and snow research. Postgraduate students in particular are welcome to attend and present their work. The meeting will consist of both oral and poster presentation sessions. Registration closes on Wednesday 6th July.