Students 4 Students Summer School: impressions from the Climate & Glacier group

Uniting PhD students from a range of disciplines, cultures and research backgrounds gains a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in understanding Earth system processes

The Students for Students Summer School of the International Mountain Conference connected 75 PhD students to exchange research ideas, interests and themes associated with climate change in mountainous environments. We travelled from all over the world to Obergurgl, a village in the Ötztal Alps in Tyrol, Austria. We were hosted in the Innsbruck University Center Obergurgl which provided an excellent and fitting environment to investigate and share our research. A speciality: The summer school was organised by PhD students for PhD students. This was a unique opportunity to learn from each other in a relaxed, hierarchy-free atmosphere! Some more thoughts on Students 4 Students:

  • "Peer-to-peer exchange, where discussion points were prioritized over impressive conclusions, led to more constructive criticism of our work"
  • "The process of commiserating over common problems was a great starting point for identifying where our research overlapped, and how we might collaborate in the future"
  • "Participants opined that the format of S4SSS is up-and-coming to encourage research among students, and such initiatives should be promoted specifically in low-income countries"

The view of the icebreaker: melting ice
The view of the icebreaker on the "Hohe Mut" summit: melting ice

We splitted up into 5 different focus groups: Mountain atmosphere, Mountain biology, Mountain tourism, Natural hazards, and Glaciers, climate & hydro! We will write here from the view of the Climate, Glacier & Hydro group (click here to see an overview of our sessions) and are proud to say that our group had 22 PhD students from institutes of 12 different nations!

Here we are, ordered in the altitude of where we are born: from left (-2 m) to the right (3000 m).
Here we are, ordered in the altitude of where we are born: from left (-2 m) to the right (3000 m).

Our research covered a range of topics and themes, ranging from modelling glacier evolution across a range of mountain ranges, to understanding the importance of accurate climate data as inputs within impact models. Our work, as a result, encompasses a range of different techniques, approaches and study areas, and thus it was very valuable to discuss our findings, experiences and common problems with the group. We showcase a summary of our research interests below:

Word cloud representing keywords from our abstract titles title

Word cloud representing keywords from our abstract titles

Whilst we come from many different cultures, countries and speak many different languages, we often face similar problems both on the observational and modelling side. We are also united by a number of intrinsic values: We are passionate about sharing our experiences in fieldwork, emphasising the value in the exchange of ideas, the dissemination of our research to the public domain, and about contributing and striving for a better Earth. People often say, “one finger cannot lift a pebble.” To carry out successful work, we need all the fingers. The summer school taught us exactly that! Being here made us realise how important it is to share our research ideas and results with people of different fields of knowledge who work from the ground to the space above. If you are further interested in what we have done during the summer school, check out the uibk_climate twitter account !

The time was not only spend in the classroom of the university centre, the surroundings of Obergurgl were also discovered. Half of our group took part in an excursion to the Gaisbergferner, a nearby glacier, and the other half went to visit a setup of a terrestrial laser scanner, which is used to monitor a nearby landslide.

impressions from sessions and excursions
Here are just some impression of our sessions and our excursion options (Gaisbergferner hike / Terrestrial Laser Scanning workshop)

At the end of the week, we met with lecturers (Fanny Brun, Lindsey Nicholson, Jakob Steiner & Fabien Maussion) at the ACINN department. We had a lively panel discussion in a relaxed atmosphere, e.g. about the necessity of sharing and documenting existing field and remote sensing data while at the same time also doing further observations. One of the negative feedbacks from the participants was that they would have liked to have hands-on workshops. As we were a very interdisciplinary group and had limited time, it was difficult to incorporate that into the official program. So, after the official end, we had a spontaneously organised mini hands-on-tutorial for two open-source projects (OGGM & COSIPY).

ACINN meeting with lecturers
Pictures from the Summer School students meeting with the lecturers at the ACINN department. Thanks for the Pizza, IDC Mountain Climate and Environment!

Written in a joint effort by all participants of the Climate, Glacier & Hydro group of the S4SSS 2022!

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