Friday, 20 July 2018

Teaching Alpine Processes - in Arolla Switzerland with the University of Lausanne

Inspirational view of Mt Colon on the first day of work
I have just returned from an inspirational week teaching a new Lancaster University 3rd year undergraduate module in Arolla in the Swiss Alps.  The new module,"Alpine Environmental Processes", was run in collaboration with our colleagues at the University of Lausanne, arising from a series of long term discussions we have shared seeking a strategic partnership.  

Particular thanks and credit must go to Professor Stuart Lane from University of Lausanne who was our collaborating partner and helped lead the way for us Stuart has been researching in Arolla since his first visit back in 1989.   Stuart is an inspiration. 

Stuart Lane with the students

The LU team, myself L and Rob Mills R

Our base was the stunning Hotel Aiguille de la Tza Arolla and I was accompanied by the talented Dr Rob Mills from Lancaster, who also has prior experience researching in the valley.

The format was that Lancaster and Lausanne students partnered together and chose to focus on some detailed aspects of alpine environmental processes, choosing from a number of thematic areas.  This year, as it was a pioneer, the Lancaster group was relatively small and we had groups focussed on studying soil respiration in relation to avalanche damage, studying the effects of soil nutrient cycling in relation to an altitudinal gradient, studying processes leading to glacial ice melt in relation to moraine cover, and finally studying rates and properties of glacial meltwater.

On the medial moraine of the upper Arolla Glacier

Studying soil respiration with an altitudinal gradient

It was a marvellous week that I found it rewarding and inspiring, and I was particularly excited to be able to walk on the Haute Arolla Glacier and see processes close up, some of which took me back to my undergraduate days.  I took lots of photographs which you can view here and also made a film which can be viewed below, and we have a hashtag #LECAlpine.  I cannot wait until next year!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Phosphorus - at the ASLO Victoria

On 10-18th June 2018 I was invited to attend and talk at the 2018 ASLO (Association of Limnology and Oceanography) summer meeting in Victoria, Canada, called "Water Connects!". Specifically, I was asked to give a tutorial in a session Called "Past Present and Future Phosphorus Cycling: From the Mine to the Deep Sea". 

The session was organised by Jose Manuel Mogollon (Leiden University in the Netherlands), with Lauriane Vilmin (Utrecht, Netherlands) and Pater Kraal (Royal NIOZ, Netherlands).  Other interesting contacts who were part of the group were Julien Nemery from the University of Grenoble, who was doing some neat comparing French and Vietnamese Rivers, and a great perspective on a paper on the Baltic Sea by Michelle McCrackin and Dennis Swaney et al (who kindly showed a screen shot of my Legacy Hypothesis paper!). John A. Harrison from Washington State University was also a great contact who gave a neat perspective on the global scale challenges of modelling P.   

To conclude the session Jose the convenor gave a nice perspective on the P cycle in the oceans and touched on some interesting cases of ocean anoxia, which I find fascinating.  It was an inspiring grouping for me because I was amongst big picture earth system and ocean perspective people who helped me widen my thinking away from the traditional soil and catchment science that I find myself among day to day.  

As well as my core session it was great to catch up with my buddy Jim Elser and co author of our in progress book for a progress check-in together.....

I also enjoyed the social activities, the highlights of which were a hire-bike ride around the coast and a harbour social where I met my old Aussie mate Mike Grace from Monash University.

I was very impressed with Victoria, decent kind people and a progressive attitude.  Thanks for having me everybody!