Polar Software Workshop and Hackathon

Training the next generation of polar scientists in software sustainability

Organised in collaboration with the UK Polar Network and the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) UCL, more than 20 early career polar scientists were given the opportunity to improve their software skills during an interactive workshop. As with many scientific disciplines within polar sciences we have our software heroes with the opensouce code stored in github… and we have those who would never dream of sharing their code. There are, however, many who would like to fit into the first category and to be more open but are concerned about sharing their code. It was this group that we aimed to help, as well as those who would like to learn better practices in writing and developing their software.

The UCL Earth Sciences deinonychus ready to welcome participants to the workshop.

Several SSI fellows provided invaluable help on the day, not only through delivering their own sessions but also staying around and helping participants through the other practical sessions. Adam Jackson kicked off the day with an introduction to open science and sustainable software, and David Perez-Suarez and Yo Yehudi ran hugely successful workshops on testing and open scientific code through github respectively.

SSI Fellow Adam Jackson kicks off the day with an introduction to open science and sustainable software.

In addition to this training we had two speakers from industry who demonstrated that their software skills have transferred to careers outside of academia: Ruari Rhodes (Hiscox) spoke to us and Sam Thomas (Zopa) shared some of his wisdom from his previous work in academia. We were also fortunate enough to have an interlude from the coding from UCL’s Professor Chris Rapley who shared his extensive knowledge on climate change communication, setting us up nicely for the following day’s hackday.

Workshop particpants get to grip with David Perez-Suarez’s testing session.

The UK’s First Polar Hackathon? Following the training workshop, many of the participants returned to participate in (as far as we are aware!) the UK’s first polar science hackathon. We were joined by participants from Airbus and other departments from UCL (physics and geography) to work on a variety of problems, including machine learning, shipping routes through the Arctic and extreme events in Greenland. Projects were judged by popular vote, with a focus on open science, collaboration within the team, as well as results found during the day. Prizes for the hackathon were generously provided by Indorse.

A welcome pizza break from coding during the hackathon.

We will share results of this workshop with the international earth sciences community at December’s American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. We would like to thank the Software Sustainability Institute for providing funding for this workshop through my fellowship fund as well as the Association for Early Career Polar Scientists for additional travel support and endorse for sponsoring our Hackday. 
 
The resources from the workshop are available here: 
 
Adam Jackson (UCL)- Open science and sustainable software presentation source files
 
David Perez-Suarez (UCL)- Testing, Testing, One, Two… slides repository 
 
Ruari Rhodes (Hiscox)- Multi-lingual workflow and spatial data resources 
 
Yo Yehudi (InterMine, University of Cambridge)- Open Scientific Code using Git and GitHub materials slides 
 
Chris Rapley (UCL)- Climate Change- Delivering Value slides

UKPN and APECS Russia Present ARCTIS2019

Association of Polar Early Career Scientists in Russia (APECS Russia) and UK Polar Network together with Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences invite you to attend an interdisciplinary field course in the Russian Arctic - "Arctic Interdisciplinary Studies - ARCTIS".  
ARCTIS will cover main domains of disciplines: Atmosphere, Cryosphere, Terrestrial, Marine and Social & Humanities.  

The main goal of ARCTIS is to facilitate bilateral and interdisciplinary cooperation of early career scientists from the United Kingdom and Russia on Arctic natural and social studies. The course will be designed to create a fruitful and interactive platform to share ideas, exchange knowledge and gain new skills and experiences by developing collaborative science project concepts as a result of the meeting.  

The field course will take place in Apatity, Kirovsk and Murmansk, Murmansk region, Russia.  

To apply for the field course, click here.  

Application deadline: 22nd November 2018
Notification of acceptance: 30th November 2018
ARCTIS Field Course: 18th - 22nd February 2019
  ARCTIS2019_eng
(if you hover over the pdf below there are multiple pages to scroll through for more info!)

Software Workshop

  • Do you write any code?
  • Have you ever come back to your code from 6 months ago and had no idea why it doesn’t work any more (or what it even does)??
  • Does your code mysteriously stop working overnight even though you’re sure you didn’t change anything?
  • Do you ever wish you could get back your lovely code from last week that worked just fine before you changed it?
  • Do you use (or will you use) any kind of software in your research at all?
 

If you answer yes to any of the above then this workshop is for you!* We are holding a free day long workshop at UCL on September 18th on polar software which will cover everything from version control and writing better code to specific software used in polar research. We have a range of brilliant speakers from academia, as well as some who have taken the software skills they have learnt from academia into industry.

Apply here now! Limited help with travel costs are available. Registration is free, deadline is August 31st. If you’re not already convinced (and you really should be) there’s free lunch too 🙂

This workshop is for all early career polar researchers no matter your level of experience, masters, PhD and beyond and has been partially funded by the Software Sustainability Institute.

We also encourage participants to stay for our polar sciences hack day on September 19th- we will be joining with students from other disciplines (e.g. physics, computer sciences) to come along and work on some polar problems for a day so even if you don’t think you’re great at coding here is your chance to get some help from those who are, and put into practice the skills you learn during the workshop.

Any questions? Email Sammie Buzzard at s.buzzard@ucl.ac.uk

Homeward Bound expedition

By Maddie Brasier.

I’ve been a member of the UKPN for 5 years now, I joined the committee as the education and outreach officer in 2013 and have since helped organise and lead outreach activities across the UK. The network and its meetings have been a great source of peer networks throughout my PhD and I was most grateful to receive a UKPN donation toward my Homeward Bound Expedition to Antarctica this year.

Homeward Bound is an international leadership initiative for women in science, the programme is delivered over a 12-month period training the participants in science communication, leadership, personal strategy and visibility, culminating with a three-week expedition to Antarctica. A total of 78 women from 14 different counties and different STEM fields took part in the expedition which visited Antarctica in February-March 2018.

During the expedition I could network with the other Homeward Bound participants, gaining contacts around the globe and insight into different scientific disciplines including conservation, policy, education and sustainable technologies. This was an amazing experience and opportunity. Science working groups within the 2018 cohort are now planning initiatives to help improve the gender gap in science, reduce our impact on the planet and raise awareness of climate change.

Antarctica was chosen as the backdrop of Homeward Bound because of its isolation and vulnerability. Training in this environment, removed from everyday life and communications, where our impact of climate change is so visibile, underlines the growing need for international collaboration to help future generations live more sustainably. During the expedition we visited 4 different research bases; Carlini (Argentina), Great Wall (China), Palmer (USA) and Rothera (UK) as well as sites of historical importance; Port Lockroy and Base Y (British) and other locations of biological interest.

As many UKPN members will be aware, visiting the polar regions is a unique and very moving experience. Being able to visit so many bases is also very rare. Having studied Antarctic biology for the last 6 years during my masters and PhD, I was really excited to see Antarctic science in action and learn more about operations in the field. These insights will feed back into future outreach work, helping to inspire young peoples into STEM subjects.

Once again I am really grateful for the support of the UKPN and as I move onto the next stage of my career (I finished my PhD 3 weeks before my expedition), I hope to take these newly acquired skills into my future work. The Homeward Bound program is a 10 year initiative and for any UKPN members or followers thinking of applying, I am more than happy to discuss my experience of the programme and help with applications.

If you wish to contact Maddie please email her at mjbrasier90@gmail.com

The UKPN donation came from an education and outreach grant from the British Antarctic Territory department of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

More information on the Homeward Bound expedition can be found here

UK-Russia Arctic Early Career Researcher Workshop

On 1-2 March the 1st UK-Russia Arctic Early Career Researcher Workshop will be hosted at Moscow State University hosted by the Faculty of Geography and Marine Research Center. The event is organised by the NERC Arctic Office and the UK Science and Innovation Network in Russia, in partnership with the UK Polar Network and the National Committee of the Association of Early Career Polar Researchers in Russia.

The event is aimed at building practical connections between early career researchers from the United Kingdom and Russia, with the aim of promoting international scientific cooperation and identifying avenues for future joint UK-Russia Arctic research.

The programme of the workshop features a series of presentations from participants, discussions in break-out groups and visits.

The event will be held under the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education 2017.

UK-Russia Arctic Research ECR collaborations

The UK Polar Network invites applications from UK-based early career researchers (from PhD level to 10 years post-PhD) to participate in and foster research links through collaborative workshops in the Russian Arctic.

These events are in collaboration with the UK Science & Innovation  Network, APECS Russia, NERC Arctic Office and Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Workshops will be held at Moscow and Cambridge with travel and accommodation support available.

Application deadline is 5th January, 2018 and any additional enquiries can be addressed to the NERC Arctic Office: arctic@bas.ac.uk

Download application form and return with a 1 page CV to applications@polarnetwork.org

Early Career event at UK Arctic Sciences

On Wednesday 20th September, during the UK Arctic Sciences Conference, the UK Polar Network will host an early career panel event. The theme will be "International Collaboration" to tie in with the theme of this years Polar Week, organised by APECS. The panel will be held between 18:30 and 19:30 in the Oban Inn (Stafford Street, Oban). We will be at the venue from 18:00 to 20:00, and food will be available to order at the bar. Panellists include Dr Jon Cohen (University of Delaware), Dr Helen Findlay (Plymouth Marine Laboratories), Dr Tom Brown (Scottish Association for Marine Science), Dr Jo Browse (University of Exeter), and Henry Burgess (UK Arctic Office). Please join us for this early career event (generally undergraduate to post-doctorate level, but we're not very exclusive). Contact Laura Hobbs (laura.hobbs at sams.ac.uk) for more information.

Join us for Antarctica Day 2016!

This year sees the return of the collaboration between the UKPN and Our Spaces to lead the Antarctica Day (1st December) festivities. As part of the events, we are inviting individuals, pupils, classrooms and schools to participate in celebrating Antarctica Day by designing a flag for the Antarctic.
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Handprints for peace from Cape Henry Collegiate School, USA

Design your flags on an A4 size, using pencils, pens, the computer or any other materials. Send your flags to us (education@polarnetwork.org), and the flags will hitch a ride all the way to the Antarctic with our flag-bearers. Your flags will be displayed around the Antarctic, and you will receive a photograph of your flag, along with a certificate for proof of travel, and to tell you where they ended up! Why are we doing this? Why celebrate Antarctica Day? The Antarctic treaty was signed in 1959 by twelve countries who were active in science research during the International Geophysical Year in 1957-1958. The treaty includes statements such as ‘Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only’, and ‘Scientific observations and results… shall be exchanged and made freely available’. The treaty celebrates a milestone of peace in our civilisation with hope and inspiration for future generations. This year, we want to continue to expand Antarctica Day, and expand our flag project. Last year we had over 35 schools and 200 flags. Can we do better this year?
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Antarctica Day 2015 at UKAHT's Port Lockroy, Western Antarctic Peninsula

For researchers travelling to the Antarctic: You can help! Are you heading down to Antarctica or any of the surrounding Antarctic Islands this Winter (November – January)? If so, please let us know! All we ask is for you to help bring down some of these flags, which will be sent to you in pdf or jpg format (however many you are willing to help with!) and photograph them on Antarctica as proof of them having made the journey down south. However you do so is completely up to you – you can be as creative as you want.

For teachers and parents:

A penguin-themed flag from the British International School in Cairo, Egypt

We’ve uploaded many school resources, including class plans and PowerPoints on how you, as an educator, can introduce Antarctica and Antarctica Day into your classroom, and have your students create flags to be sent down to Antarctica. We would like to emphasise that submissions to us can only be up to 5 flags per school - if you would like to submit your flags to us, please contact us on education@polarnetwork.org. The idea is for your students to design flags for the Antarctic. You can either get all students to design flags, and then chose your ‘top five’ or you could design a couple of flags as a whole class/year group. Digital pictures of the flags are sent to us, and we then print off these picture and send them down to the Antarctic with our scientists and engineers in November and December. A picture of your flags will then be taken within the Antarctic, and the student/classroom will receive a certificate to say where their flag was displayed. There is also a chance that a competition will be run for the best flags to be hung up around the British Antarctic Survey and Scott Polar Museum. We can provide a large number of resources and lesson ideas. We would also like to maintain a relationship with the school afterwards, either by a visit to the school from a scientist, or an online Q&A session for your students with a scientist. This is an international activity, and so far we have schools from over 20 countries taking part. The UKPN would love to have your school participate in this exciting event. To help you implement this activity within your classroom, we’ve attached a sample class plan for Antarctica Flags that has been most popular over the last couple of years! If you would like this class plan in another language, please let us know by replying to this email.
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Researcher Christine Dow and her team display a flag at South Korea's Jang Bogo Research Station.

This year, our deadline for submission of Antarctica Day flags will be slightly earlier, on the 1st November (exactly 1 month before Antarctica Day!), because we’d like to get your flags to be photographed in Antarctica on the 1st December.  Lastly, to keep updated and involved in the Antarctica Day festivities, please follow us on Facebook (UKPN and Antarctica Day) and Twitter, where we will be regularly posting your flag submissions and other relevant items counting down the days to December 1st. Please get in touch at education@polarnetwork.org if you have any questions.

UKPN at the Leeds Science Festival

The UK Polar Network (UKPN) members for the very first time conducted an education and outreach event at the University of Leeds as a part of the Leeds Science festival on the 21st of March, 2016. We conducted an exciting 1 day workshop titled ‘Pole to Pole: Life at the ends of the Earth’ for school students aged 12-15 years. The workshop was divided into two sessions of 2 hour slots each. Small scale experiments were set-up in order to educate and create awareness on various aspects of climate change in the polar regions such as ocean acidification, sea level rise and the changing albedo. In each of these aspects, the vulnerability of the polar regions to increased emissions of carbon dioxide, industrial pollution, deforestation etc. was stressed on. Students at the workshopStudents at the workshop   Students were first introduced through a continental jigsaw puzzle to the similarities and differences between the Arctic and Antarctic with regard to ocean/wind circulation, temperature, sea ice extent, flora and fauna. This set a good backdrop for the rest of the cool scientific experiments that were to follow! Once the students were aware of terms such as ice sheets, glaciers, difference between land ice and sea ice, they were run through with a sea level rise experiment. Here they placed ice on a rock (representing land ice) and ice floating in water (representing sea ice) in two separate tubs. Both the tubs were filled with water and ice was melted using a hair dryer. The students were then asked to guess which tub would show a rise in the water level and also the reasons for it. Herein sea level rise was brought into the picture and the impacts of such melting on especially coastal inhabitants discussed. Second part of the experiment was based on thermal expansion using a tube filled with blue liquid placed in a tub with boiling water. The rise of the blue liquid in the tube was used to explain that as water temperature rises, it expands, also contributing to sea level rise. In sync with the above experiment was the concept of albedo. Students recorded the difference in temperatures between a white and black tile heated by a light bulb. They also measured reflectance of different ‘land types’ – open ocean, snow, sea ice, forest etc. and were asked to place the albedo of these in an increasing or decreasing order. The students were enthused to learn of these differences which led to interesting discussions on the effects of changing albedo in the polar regions on sea level rise and the vicious positive feedback that it sets into motion. To show one of the major and increasing impacts of climate change, an experiment on ocean acidification was also conducted. Students used vinegar on sea shells to see the corrosive effect of acid on marine organisms. They also tested using a pH indicator and by blowing into beakers containing warm water and ice cold water, the higher solubility of carbon dioxide in the ice cold water and thus the change in acidity. Students were encouraged to seek answers to these observations and come up with a hypothesis to explain this phenomenon. Ocean acidification especially in the polar regions was thus explained and the experiment on sea shells made them realize some of the harmful effects of ocean acidification. What really intriguIMG_20160321_142931_HDR[1]ed the interest of the students at the end of the workshop was the introduction to heavy polar clothing worn by researchers in the Arctic and Antarctic! Volunteers from among the students were picked up and dressed for the audience to see. This led to several interesting questions on survival in such extreme conditions and the UKPN members shared their memorable experiences of having worked in these harsh conditions with the students. IMG_20160321_143008_HDR[1] The aim of the session was thus to educate the students on polar regions and most importantly create an interest in the scientific activities conducted by researchers worldwide at these remote locations. It was thus a day well spent both for the students and UKPN members as the students left more enthused and it served as a great interactive learning experience for the members as well! --Written by UKPN Treasurer Archana Dayal