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Team Alps 2016: we went back again

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Fieldwork is an important part of a physical geographer’s research. Cianna Wyshnytzky (PhD student in the School of Geography) is currently writing up her thesis which focuses on the mechanisms of minor moraine formation in high-mountain environments of the European Alps. Here we have Cianna reflecting on fieldwork from this summer:  

“You may have already seen two blog posts about Team Alps, regarding 2014 and 2015 fieldwork. I never provided a follow-up on the 2015 work, so here is a brief summary:

  • We collected some data using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), to gain information about the subsurface sediment in the Schwarzensteinkees and Waxeggkees valleys. Unfortunately, we didn’t collect nearly as much as we wanted due to equipment failures.
  • We additionally collected some terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data in the Schwarzensteinkees valley, to learn more about the geomorphology of subtle landforms.
  • Josh (MSc student) continued measuring lichen to assess their use as a chronometer in high-Alpine settings.
Dr Sven Lukas and MSc student Harry McMahon sampling sediments in the Austrian Alps.
Dr Sven Lukas and MSc student Harry McMahon sampling sediments in the Austrian Alps.

“We then came back to London (unfortunately we couldn’t stay in Austria all year!) to compile our data. I have since carried on writing up my thesis, also incorporating another field site in Switzerland, and am on track to have it turned in and defended by the end of September. With the framework for 2015 in place, we decided to visit the upper Zemmgrund, Austria, field area one last time. The primary purpose for me and Harry (MSc student) was to collected more GPR data. Oh how we long for the good ol’ days of geomorphology where it was all about sketching sections and landforms, with equipment no fancier than a pencil and paper! Unfortunately we ran into problems with the GPR equipment again and had to abandon it. It’s always necessary to have contingency plans when conducting field work, so we decided to find and describe more lateral moraine sections for Harry’s thesis. All the while, Josh continued measuring more lichen, which means that he now has quite the impressive dataset to sort through!  

“Luckily, we were met with mostly agreeable weather and the comfortable hospitality of the Berliner Hütte to come back to at the end of the day. We even got to take part in a Steinbock rewilding, introducing three zoo-raised Steinbock to the mountains outside the hut to promote a healthier genetic line in the region!

“That wraps up the degree-based fieldwork for the three lasting Team Alps students… we expect successful MSc and PhD theses to be completed soon, followed by several publications. Keep your eyes and ears open!”

Steinbocks are set free during a rewilding event in Berliner Hut, Austria.
Steinbocks are set free during a rewilding event in Berliner Hut, Austria.

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