About Bethan Davies

I am a Senior Lecturer in Quaternary Science at Royal Holloway University of London, specialising in glaciology and glacial geology. I wrote and developed the AntarcticGlaciers.org website as part of an ongoing commitment to outreach, education and research impact. Read more about me at www.antarcticglaciers.org/bethan-davies.

It’s good to be a little bit nervous

Public speaking is a big part of any academic’s job (and many other jobs, come to that). Crippling nerves are debilitating, and can inhibit a speaker’s flow and presence. If you suffer from severe nerves in this way, the best advice I can give you is to a) seek professional guidance on public speaking, and b) to practise and do it often. Continue reading

The A to Z of Antarctica

Here is, hopefully, an informative and hopefully entertaining A to Z of all things Antarctic!

  •  A – Antarctica. The 5th largest continent in with world, with 26.5 million km3 of ice.
  • B – Beaker [slang]. A scientist who visits Antarctica to undertake research.
  • C – Cold. Antarctica has the coldest average temperature of any continent. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at Vostok: -89.2°C on 21st July 1983. Continue reading

Fellowships, models and outreach

So long and thanks for all the fish

Each year, SCAR (the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) awards a few fellowships to young researchers, to allow them to visit another university and collaborate with a new team. I was lucky enough to be awarded one in 2012, which I took up this winter. And now, after six months at the Antarctic Research Centre (ARC), Victoria University of Wellington, my SCAR Fellowship is over and it is time to head home, back to Aberystwyth. Continue reading

Giving a good presentation

Presentations are the mainstay of academic life, as well as the corporate and business world. Undergraduate students will probably need to give solo or group presentations as part of their coursework. Postgradute students will certainly have to do so. But giving a good presentation is an art, and it takes a lot of practice. I thought in this blog post, I would share some of my tips and practical suggestions for giving a good presentation. Continue reading

Sea level rise over the next 2000 years

A new paper by Levermann et al. in PNAS uses the record of past rates of sea level rise from palaeo archives and numerical computer models to understand how much sea level rise we can expect per degree of warming in the future. These data suggest that we can expect a global sea level rise of 2.3 m per 1°C of warming within the next 2000 years: well within societal timeframes. A 2°C of warming would result in a global sea level rise of 4.8 m within 2000 years. This would inundate many coastal cities in Europe alone, and cause untold economic and societal damage.

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AntarcticGlaciers.org – one year on

It’s one year almost exactly since AntarcticGlaciers went live at the start of July 2012. One year since I fumbled my way into this complex world of science communication. When I started out, I had little idea of what I was doing. I had never Tweeted (I viewed it rather as a waste of time), never made a website, and had never written for anyone other than academics and my peers. Continue reading

Patagonian Ice Sheet thinning during a changing climate

J.Boex, C. Fogwill, S. Harrison, N.F. Glasser, A. Hein, C. Schnabel and S. Xu.  Rapid thinning of the Late Pleistocene Patagonian Ice Sheet followed migration of the Southern Westerlies. Scientific Reports 3: 2118, p. 1-6

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The Patagonian Ice Sheet

Patagonian mountains east of the North Patagonian Icefield. Credit: Stephen Harrison

Patagonian mountains east of the North Patagonian Icefield. Credit: Stephan Harrison

This recent open-access paper in the new journal Science Communications, which is part of the Nature group, has demonstrated that the during the deglacial period (~19,000 years ago), the Patagonian Ice Sheet in South America responded rapidly in response to changing precipitation patterns and warming during the last deglaciation. The fact that the Patagonian Ice Sheet responded so quickly to changes in precipitation and temperature has vivid implications for the current, and future, behaviour of the current North Patagonian Icefield  and South Patagonian Icefield. We already know that the shrinkage of the North and South Patagonian ice fields was faster over the last decade or so than at any point in the last couple of centuries. Understanding on a broader scale how these sensitive, high-latitude ice masses are dependent on small changes in atmospheric circulation means that we will better be able to predict the future behaviour of these ice sheets. Reconstructing rates of ice-sheet decay since the Last Glacial Maximum means that we can better assess the mechanisms of climate change (including changing wind patterns) during a major climate transition. Continue reading

The Role of Scientists as Communicators: From the Classroom to the Pub

Do you consider yourself a science communicator? Does your research group participate in public outreach? Do you have creative ways to engage non-technical audiences in your research? Have you ever evaluated your education and outreach efforts? If so, we invite you to share with us during an informative session titled The Role of Scientists as Communicators: From the Classroom to the Pub (ED038) at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting in December. Continue reading