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The field trip

Join educators from 10 universities across Europe on a 3-day field trip to a Swedish island.
Map of Utö
© Susanne Hjerp

Day 1 

The ferry to Utö is called Silverpilen (“the silver arrow”), perhaps because silver was among the metals that have been mined on the island since Viking times.

The path to Södra Sandvik takes us through forests of ancient pines and birch trees.

The ferry brings us to Gruvbryggan (“the miners pier”). From there, we walk approximately 2 km through the forest to Södra Sandvik (“southern sandy bay”). This is where we will explore the climate of the past:

  • Alasdair Skelton, Professor at Stockholm University will focus on spectacular rocks which tell of the making of Scandinavia and the rise of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere 1.9 billion years and on what we can learn from the ancient past concerning our uncertain future.
  • In a landscape sculpted by massive ice sheets, Todd Ehlers, Professor at Tübingen University will focus on climate variability in the 800 thousand years that bring us to the present day and on what we can learn about the crucial role of carbon dioxide in the climate system.

Södra Sandvik means the southern sandy bay. On either side of the bay are fantastic rock formations which tell of 1.9 billion years of Earth history.

Before returning to the village, which is close to the pier, and on our way back, we learn about the tools which scientists use to find out about the climate of the past:

  • Laurence Vidal, Professor at Aix Marseille University will introduce paleoclimatology. She will explain how scientists use sediments and rocks to find out about how the climate changed in the past.
  • Thibaut Devièse, Associate Professor at Aix Marseille University will introduce geochronology. He will explain how scientists use radioactive “clocks” in sediments and rocks to find out when the climate changed in the past.

Day 2

We walk back to Södra Sandvik on the second day of our field trip to start exploring the present-day state of the climate.

  • Goulven Laruelle, Research Associate at Université libre de Bruxelles begins this session by describing the carbon cycle, how humans are perturbing it and how this drives global warming.

Orchids are common in calcareous meadows in the Stockholm archipelago.

We walk from Södra Sandvik around the rocky headland to a tiny settlement called Kroka (“the hook”). While we walk, we listen to a podcast by Dr. Marco Petitta from Sapienza Università di Roma. He talks about human-induced global warming impacts on the water cycle upon which not only humanity but also the other 8.7 million species depend on.

The settlement of Kroka is situated amongst calcareous meadows and grazed pastures, both of which are havens for biodiversity. Here, we will learn how human-induced global warming impacts on biodiversity and can ultimately result in a mass extinction.

  • Moreno Di Marco, Research Fellow at Sapienza University explains past, present and future impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
  • Donatella Magri, Associate Professor at Sapienza University reflects on how unheaded climate change can result in a global extinction crisis.

Day 3

Before setting out, we listen to Delia Laura Popescu, Researcher at the University of Bucharest, as she outlines the Sustainable Development Goals which set a framework for climate change solutions while seeking to avoid conflicts with other goals.

Then Radu Dudău, Associate Professor at Bucharest University shares his thoughts on energy sufficiency and efficiency which he exemplifies by considering effective use of heat pumps as an energy source. 

We then walk towards Barnens bad (“the children’s bathing place”).

Barnens bad means ”the children’s bathing place”. The water is very shallow and sheltered making it a perfect place for children to play in the water.

On are way, Associate Professor Juan Malo from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid shows us examples of renewable energy in the village. He also points out associated risks for biodiversity.

Sitting at a table alongside at Barnens bad, José Ramón Ares, Professor at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, reflects on the role of hydrogen for energy production and storage.

After lunch, we meet Gudrun Zagel, Associate Professor at Salzburg University. She tells about the legal framework within which climate policies are made and implemented. Then, Anne Cadoret, Senior Lecturer at Aix Marseille University uses marine protected areas to exemplify the crucial role of policy in guiding climate change solutions.

In the early evening, Alasdair Skelton, Professor at Stockholm University and Gioia Falcone, Professor at Glasgow University talk about carbon budgets and life cycle assessments. The session concludes with Ria Dunkley, Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. She could not join us on Utö, so she connects with us live from Scotland to share her thoughts with us on pathways to changes of behavior as a driver for climate change solutions. 

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