Monday, 30 June 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series 1st July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series - Spring 2014 

1st July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace)

Imagining the future: people, environment and social change

Anna Pigott

(PhD student, Swansea University, UK)

Anna is a first year PhD student as a human geographer working on environmental issues, supervised by Professor David Clarke and Dr Amanda Rogers.  She came to Swansea in 2011 to complete an MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change, which led to an interest in social dimensions of environmental issues...and to this PhD!

Current anxieties about resource use, climate change, land degradation and species loss (to name just a few environmental issues) pose unprecedented questions about our responsibilities toward future generations, of where we want to get to and how to get there.  Change is deemed necessary, but is difficult to achieve. It is increasingly argued that the imagination of the future can play an important role in social and political change, and yet it is given little reflexive attention in everyday life.   

The concept of imagination can be used in a geographical sense to understand how unifying or dominant ideas about our relationship with the world are shared, negotiated, consolidated, and reproduced in society – in other words, how 'habits of mind' are formed.  In light of this, the imagination of the future matters because it is part of understanding how possible futures are pre-experienced and set in motion, and how they influence our responses to environmental issues in the present.

Some key questions, then, are:  how is the future imagined and represented in the public sphere, and how does this relate to people's engagement with global environmental issues? This project has an empirical focus on Wales because the country’s strong political stance on the environment - and its emphasis on ‘the future’ as a means to rally support (the ‘Future Generations Bill’ will be introduced in summer, 2014) - provides a novel opportunity to explore relationships between representation, political rhetoric, and social change.  

Oceanic Influences on the Melt Rates of Marine-Terminating Glaciers in South East Greenland

Alistair Everett

(PhD student, Swansea University, UK)

 Alistair is a second year PhD student in the Glaciology Group, supervised by Tavi Murray and Ian Rutt. He graduated from Swansea in 2011 from his undergraduate degree (MEng) in Civil Engineering, followed by 18 months working as a civil engineer.
Alistair decided that particular area of engineering wasn’t for him, so took a chance on a PhD and hasn't looked back since! During his PhD, I developed a strong interest in the interactions of ice sheets and the oceans as well as the mechanics of how glacier actually work.

Recent synchronous acceleration, thinning and retreat of tidewater glaciers in South East Greenland has been linked to changes in the properties of ocean currents around the coastline. However, calculating rates of submarine melt to a reasonable degree of accuracy has proved difficult due to the many variables involved. A number of models have been developed in order to do this, but as yet there has been limited validation of these models against field data. This is primarily due to the inaccessibility of the plumes and the expenses required in gathering such data. I use Fluidity, an open-source finite element fluid dynamics code, to build a small scale model of a plume of subglacial discharge at an idealised ice front. The model is designed to be comparable to the limited field data which is available. Once validated, the model can be used to infer constraints on the outlet properties of the subglacial discharge, and hence improve the accuracy of melt rate calculations.

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