At the beginning of June, QUADRAT DTP second year students from University of Aberdeen and Queens University Belfast reunited in Courmayeur, Italy to spend the week together to learn more about glaciology. QUADRAT DTP is a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Queen’s University Belfast that offers studentships that cover themes including Biodiversity, Earth Systems and Environmental Management.

The week was full of beautiful hikes through the valleys that surround Mont Blanc to get up and close with glaciers and moraines to understand more about how they have shaped the landscape around them. The week was also interspersed with lessons about freshwater ecology, soil and vegetation biology, and using drones for mapping. We also visited the local avalanche team to learn more about how they monitor and prepare for avalanches in the area. For the biologists among us, we also had some fantastic wildlife spots including marmots, ibex, bearded vultures and a plethora of alpine plants.

One of the highlights of the week was heading up on the cable cars to just under 3,500m to get right up into the mountains to ‘the top of Italy’ to see the source of the glaciers in the area and consider the threats and changes they are exposed to. Throughout the week, we also took turns to present updates to our own research projects to the rest of the cohort, and it was a great opportunity to hear more about what everyone has working on. Not to mention sampling the local gelato occasionally too!

The whole week was a fantastic learning experience on a subject area that, for many of us, was completely new. It was extremely thought provoking to see small parts of glaciers break off and fall in real time, and so to see the effects of climate change happening right in front of us. We must also give a huge shout out to James Dill-Russel, Xavier Badham and SBS’s own Danni Thompson who took on the enormous challenge of cycling all the way to Geneva from Belfast/Paris in the aid of sustainable travel!

It really was a fantastic week, and I would like to thank QUADRAT once again for providing such a unique experience for us all.