“What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you in your line of work?” and other fun questions in our “ask me anything!” event HAPPENING NOW!

Come ask us anything on here, on the #OceanAMA, on reddit! :-)

Or tell us about the weirdest thing that has happened to YOU in your line of work!

“A brief history of climate in the Nordic Seas” — A #scipoem

A brief history of climate in the Nordic Seas*

Understanding of climate change
explaining a record’s full range
playing the cause-and-effect game
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

data: proxies or direct obs
predicted future poses probs
relationship is not the same:
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

mechanism seems to differ
Gulf Stream currently seems stiffer
than in future or past, we claim,
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

Understanding of climate change
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

*based on an article by Eldevik et al. (2014). Form is a “kyrielle sonett”

Greenhouse Gases — A #SciPoem

Greenhouse Gases

Air around us: full of water
Vapour, clouds or rain
Warmer air holds
more. A feedback.

CO2 belongs in the air
Volcanoes or
Breathing cattle
Not burnt fossils

Natural sources for methane
Ampl’fied by us:
Farting cattle

Soil cultivation produces
nitrous oxide
Burnt biomass

Chlorofluorocarbons are
synthetic stuff
reg’lated now

Those five main components changing
Changing climate

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”: A #SciPoem

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”

This quote’s source: the IPCC
On what in total ninety-sev’n
Percent of scientists agree
The evidence of climate change

Risen by more than one degree
The av’rage surface temperature
Since anno nineteenhundr’d. See?
The evidence of climate change

The oceans have absorbed some heat
And have become a lot warmer
Espec’lly in the surface sheet
The evidence of climate change

Combined, four-hundred k-m-square
In Greenland and Antarctica
Of ice did melt, flowed off somewhere
The evidence of climate change

And everywhere around the sphere
Glaciers are retreating. Andes,
Himalayas and everywhere
The evidence of climate change

Satellite observations show
Northern Hemisphere snow cover
Was much more five decades ago
The evidence of climate change

Sea levels rising by the flow
Accumulated in the sea
Of all that melting ice and snow
The evidence of climate change

Not changing levels of the sea
But its own area and height
Arct’c sea ice declines rapidly
The evidence of climate change

Intense rainfalls destroy down streams
Temperatures are at record highs
The weather reaching new extremes
The evidence of climate change

Getting sourer through and through
Ocean waters acidify
When oceans absorb CO2
The evidence of climate change

“Grubletegninger” — using sketches presenting alternative explanations of a situation to spark discussions

In my personal #SciCommChallenge, one thing on my things-to-try list were “grubletegninger” — pondering sketches, or sketches to ponder. It’s a format developed in Norway and there is quite a collection available at naturfag.no. (And that my sketches below happen to be on a Norway-themed note pad is pure coincidence :-))

The idea is that the sketch of a situation is given, along with a couple of people who each give a statement explaining the situation. For example on the topic of whether a sundial can be used in both hemispheres, the characters state things like “yes, you just have to position it the other way round”, “yes, if you swap the numbers”, “no, because the sun moves in the opposite direction”, “it will work, but with a 12 hour offset”.

This can then be used to spark discussion in a student group. Since many possible misconceptions are made explicit on the sketch itself, it is easy for students to identify with one of the answers and explain why they think that it is the correct one. It is also useful to use answers to argue against, to use them as a starting point for experimentation, to bridge between school science and the real world. I really like this format and think it could be a very useful tool in science outreach, too!

And I think making many different possible answers explicit is actually the most important feature of this tool. My first Grubletegning-sketch (which I did based on a vage memory and before checking out the naturfag.no website) is not nearly as good for sparking thoughts and discussions as it could be if it was laying out different lines of argumentation!

Of course, in the end it is not very different from a multiple-choice exercise, with the different distractors giving the different answer options. But how much more appealing is it when combined with a nice sketch, and actual people (albeit sketched ones) giving the answers, rather than your teacher giving you one correct answer and a couple false ones, and not telling you which one is which? I think this might actually be an excellent tool in outreach to engage people in discussions.

And I am looking forward to coming up with situations that could be used for grubletegninger, and to actually sketching them in a slightly nicer way than I did above. I am trying out a sketch pad next weekend, there might be a huge increase in the quality of graphics on this blog in the near future ;-) Or not, we’ll see ;-)

energie:labor at European Researchers’ Night 2017

Yesterday Alice and I spent the afternoon and evening in the cute coastal town of Eckernförde, enjoying the summer-y weather, the Baltic Sea, and — of course! — the science outreach. It was European Researchers’ Night!

We represented the energie:labor and our research group by entertaining many many people in our little blue tent:

The goal was to engage the public in thinking about physics, particularly about energy. What better tool to use than a thermal imaging camera?

I’ve talked about the many ways you can play with that sort of camera before (see here), but last night was special. To catch people’s eyes and engage children as well as grown-ups, we had prepared a couple of fun experiments, for example hitting gummi bears with a hammer and observing how that changes the temperature.

Despite the large media interest we didn’t make the local newspaper’s front page today ;-)

To get an impression of how much fun we had, watch the movie below. This was an hour before the official opening of the event, and the last seconds we had to actually do things ourselves before we got run over by curious crowds. Who knew that people are so keen on learning physics? ;-)

Thanks, Alice, we are a great team and I had so much fun! :-)

Response of the ACC to climate change #scipoem

The response of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to recent climate change*

Around and around the southern pole
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, inspiring
Around and around the southern pole
Seemingly without a goal
Going east, east, east, untiring
East, east, east, admiring!
Around and around the southern pole

Around and around the southern pole
To “the mightiest of all ocean currents” people bowed
Around and around the southern pole
In the Southern Ocean playing the most important role
Despite going slowly, it has never slowed
Enormous amounts of water have flowed
Around and around the southern pole

Around and around the southern pole
Up to 2 kilometres wide
Around and around the southern pole
2 to 4 km deep the flow, no shoal
putting Atlantic, Indic, Pacific, side by side,
connecting them with an enormous tide
Around and around the southern pole

Around and around the southern pole
No continents are in it’s way, by winds the whole is driven
Around and around the southern pole
Blending the world’s oceans’ waters in its endless stroll
Oceans that otherwise are riven
Its importance for climate is given
Around and around the southern pole

Around and around the southern pole
As climate changes, so does the driving wind field
Around and around the southern pole
But studies show that on the whole
Despite the ocean being exposed to winds without shield
In total no changes to the current are yield’d
Around and around the southern pole

*Inspired by an article by Böning, Dispert, Visbeck, Rintoul & Schwarzkopf (2008). This poem’s form is called “rondelet”.

Ask me anything! on October 18th #OceanAMA

Hi! I am Mirjam. We are investigating ocean currents in a 13-m-diameter swimming pool that sits on a merry-go-round. Ask me anything!

I will be hosting an “Ask Me Anything” event!

I am a member of Elin Darelius’ team of scientists. We are investigating ocean currents near Antarctica — by doing scientific experiments in a 13-m-diameter rotating water tank in Grenoble, France. Ask me how experiments in water tanks can tell us something about ocean currents; how we usually observe ocean currents from ships; what it is like to work with an international team in a foreign country; how you become an ocean scientist; anything else you want to know! Looking forward to hearing from you! :-)

To ask me anything, you can either leave comments below or head over to my page on OceanAMA and ask questions there. I will be answering them from Grenoble on October 18th!


#scipoem on an Darelius et al. article about ice shelves

“Observed vulnerability of Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf to wind-driven inflow of warm deep water”*

Let’s talk ab’t a favourite paper
“Observed vulnerability of Filchner-
Ronne Ice Shelf to
wind-driven inflow
of wa(-a-a-a-a)rm deep water”

An ice shelf is ice that is floating
on top of the sea as it’s flowing
down from a continent
this one is prominent
more ar’onl’ the Ross Shelf is coating.

In oc’nographers’ jargon, “deep water”
(as we learned by heart at my alma mater)
are defined by their propertie’
and live in the deep, deep sea
and currently they are getting hotter.

But “warm” is a relative measure
bathing in it would be no pleasure
it’s temperature typically
less than just one degree!
Go measure yourself at your leisure!

As winds weaken now during summer
warm water, like led by a plumber,
climbs up the continent
and can now circumvent
sills and reach ice from under.

If temperatures rise as projected
a lot of the ice will be ‘ffected.
Raising the lev’l o’ sea,
changing hydrography,
which needs to be further dissected.

Because of its climatic impact
which Elin has now shown to be fact
we need close observation
of deep water formation
so all changes can carefully be tracked.

*that’s the title of an article by (Elin) Darelius et al. (2016) which served as inspiration for this poem.

Tale of arctic melting and deep water formation #scipoem

Tale of arctic melting and deep water formation

Freshwater freezes long before saltwater does,
and it also floats on top of saltwater.
In the Nordic Seas, deep waters are formed.
If there is a lot of freshwater,
less deep water can be formed.
The sea freezes over.
Ice then insulates,
prevents heat flux,
shutting down

this is
too simple.
fresh water layers
are also the currents.
East of Greenland, to name one,
flows fast the East Greenland Current,
taking away all the freshwater
through the Denmark Strait south, and further south,
where the freshwater mixes with saltwater
until anomalies return decades later,
starting the circle again. Now what if Greenland melts?*

*I don’t actually have an answer to the question what will happen if there is a large input of freshwater into the Nordic Seas (which seems unavoidable under global warming when both Arctic sea ice and Greenland glaciers melt). My own research, interpreting measurements taken in the region between 1950 and 2000, shows that during that period the fresh meltwater got transported south, out of the Nordic Seas, as suggested in the poem (Glessmer, Eldevik, Våge, Nilsen, & Behrens, 2014). However, even the newest of those measurements are almost a decade old now, and the debate among experts about what will happen is wide open. Exciting times!