Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Aquaculture: Pathway to food security in Kenya: Continuing the Research...by Andy Marriott

Aquaculture cage fish Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)
collected from a local cage farm.
Well it’s been a fun ride and we have now finally come full circle for the Aquaculture project in Kenya. As I mentioned way back in May 2018 a small group from the Inorganic Geochemistry team (IG) at British Geological Survey (BGS) in collaboration with The School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Eldoret (UoE), The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science (UoN), and the experienced research team at the Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) based in Kisumu, Kenya were successful in winning funding from the Newton-Utafiti International Links programme with the British Council. The project investigated problems of “food insecurity” in the Kenyan portion of Lake Victoria (only 6%) and the implications of both anthropogenic pollution and land run-off from changes in land use (soil erosion) and their impact on the health and nutritional quality of aquaculture farmed fish for “food safety” as proxies for pollution.

The idea of exploring how micronutrients contributed to Aquaculture fish, their nutritional quality and the associated problems of pollution pathways and food security were challenging, working in the second largest Lake in the world. Sampling locations were difficult to navigate due to thick matts of water hyacinth (Fig 1) and collecting waters, sediment grabs and cores in 2 metre swells in the Lake would have tested the most hardened of sailors.

Nonetheless, water, sediment samples and most importantly wild and caged fish samples were collected from the May, November and January sampling trips for the project. Samples were prepared in Kenya ready for shipping to and analysis at BGS to identify sources of potential circulation of pollutants from the north to southern locations of Kenya’s borders.

Clockwise from top left: Invasive water hyacinth causes problems with navigation for the local fishermen and communities
 around the Lake; Van Veen sediment grab with collected sediment from the bottom of the lake which will be analysed for
 trace element concentrations; Aquaculture cages (20 x 20m) housing 10,000+ Nile Tilapia.
Initial findings of the Aquaculture project were disseminated at a stakeholder’s workshop including NGOs and local aquaculture cage owners and fisheries managers. The workshop was held on the 25th January at KMFRI headquarters with an introduction from our hosts KMFRI about the Lake and it’s management, followed by talks given from the Aquaculture project leaders Dr Andy Marriott (BGS, PI) and Prof Odipo Osano (Eldoret, Co-PI) and a  talk given from Safina Musa a member of the KMFRI research team.

A breakout was then organised with those attending split into four groups to discuss the findings of the project and to highlight their concerns for the fisheries, aquaculture farming and the state of the Lake. The groups having elected their spokesperson would then put their questions to the project team leaders. Questions from the aquaculture aspect and what possible impact cage culture would have on the local fishermen and water quality were predominant with problems of environmental issues pertaining to the overwhelming issue of water hyacinth were also a major concern.

From L-R: Dr Chrisphine Nyamweya (KMFRI) opening the proceedings at the Aquaculture Workshop at KMFRI
 headquarters; Safina Musa discussing the state of aquaculture in Kenya from the KMFRI research team.
Dr Marriott explained that “wild fisheries and aquaculture coexisted in a relationship and not one of competition” with “one helping to sustain the other” e.g. preventing possible future fish stocks collapsing. Additional to this, was the importance of fish not only as a protein source but for their essential micronutrients which could be one of a number of potential routes to food security in the Kenyan diets. However, fish alone are not the only answer to the provision of essential micronutrients, they also need to be supplemented with a diversified diet e.g. kale, sukuma wiki (collard greens), pumpkin leaves, to boost these as part of the recommended daily intake (RDI).

Moving on from the fisheries discussions, water quality and information on pollution and their pathways were addressed with Prof Osano indicating the “problem was more widely dispersed than just localised input”, with areas covering the drainage basins in Kenya and their effect on the Lake again highlighted from his presentation.

Gaps in the knowledge base needed to be addressed, with both the input contributions “point source” and their impact “end point” effects will need to be monitored if we are to implement measures to control, reduce or more importantly understand these environmental impacts. Collaborative projects between UoE and BGS (Geo-chem & Health, Kenya Rift Valley, IG in Kenya Part II) are continuing to assess the issues of environmental impacts from anthropogenic activities and their connection with health. Further funding for PhDs and MScs hopefully will contribute further to the research.

Finally, an address was made by Lilian Wanjohi (British Council, Kenya) and Caroline Nyanoti (British High Commission, Nairobi) part of the Newton-Utafiti International Links funding body, in congratulating all involved in the Aquaculture project and the achievement of the findings, which highlighted the need to continue to monitor and manage the Lake and to address the concerns of all who use and live in and around its waters.

Dr Marriott concluded that future funding had been successful (Nottingham-GCRF seed funds) which would continue our work from the Newton-Utafiti project through to summer 2019. A further bid is in place (BBSRC-GCRF), which if successful would mean continued work to 2021 on the Lake studying problems of pollution in Aquaculture and wild fish e.g. Food Safety, Human and Ecological Health, through water quality assessments studying associated sedimentation rates in water from soil erosion and changes in land-use.

Acknowledgements:
I would like to thank the Newton-Utafiti International Links programme and the British Council for funding the project and allowing us to do this research. I would also like to thank the BGS-ODA programme and Center for Environmental Geochemistry for their continued financial and technical support. I would also like to thank all of the participants from the County Government of Kisumu, Lake Victoria Environmental Management Program, National Environment Management Authority, Lake Basin Development Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology and researchers from KMFRI who took time to attend the workshop and give us invaluable feedback on the Lake.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Full steam ahead with the sampling on the RRS James Clark Ross: ORCHESTRA Part 3…by Carol Arrowsmith

Carol sampling at the CTD on the
RRS James Clark Ross currently
 out in the Weddell Sea
Carol is half way through a research cruise across the Weddell Sea as part of ORCHESTRA, see her previous blogs Investigating the Southern Ocean: Part 1 and From Chile to the Falklands and beyond: ORCHESTRA Part 2 

We are now cruising along the 60oS latitude, having crossed the Drake Passage, passing Elephant Island (off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula), between Coronation and Laurie Island and are now out in the Weddell Sea at approximately 23oW. This leg of the ORCHESTRA hydrographic/tracer section covers the northern rim of the Weddell Gyre and is called ANDREXII (Antarctic Deep Water Rates of Export). This leg was previously sampled 10 years ago so we are interested to see the difference global warming has made to the ocean.

We are roughly half way into our sampling of sea water for temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, dissolved inorganic carbon, total alkalinity, inorganic nutrients as well as taking meteorological and surface ocean observations. The sample collections and data measurements are being undertaken by various teams of scientists from NOC, BAS and PML, as well as me from the BGS. My samples, for the determination of oxygen and carbon isotope ratios (to tell us about heat and carbon source), will be analysed when they arrive back at the stable isotope laboratory of the BGS head office in Nottingham later this year. We are collecting samples from various depths from 100 “stations” (stopping points on the cruise), we have collected 67 stations and collected 1200 samples so far (and its quite hard work!)…

Some of the women on board the JCR with me celebrating
International Women’s Day 2019 in the snow and hail!
The sea water samples collected from various depths in the ocean are taken using an instrument called a CTD. A CTD is a device used to measure the Conductivity (used to determine salinity), Temperature, and pressure of seawater (the D stands for "depth," which is closely related to pressure) of the ocean but also collects discrete water samples. The water samples are taken using 24 “niskin” bottles arranged around in a circular rosette. The CTD is lowered into the water with the niskin bottles opened at both ends until it reaches the maximum bottom depth. Using a weighted trigger that is sent down a cable the bottles can be closed remotely. The 24 niskins are closed at different depths as the CTD is brought back to the surface. So niskin 1 contains the deepest water sample and 24 the surface sample. Getting water samples from different depths in the ocean is important to understand how the water chemistry and physical properties changes with depth. We expect to see more anthropogenic impact in the upper few hundreds of meters of the ocean.

See my previous blogs 1 and 2:
Investigating the Southern Ocean: Part 1
From Chile to the Falklands and beyond: ORCHESTRA Part 2

ORCHESTRA is in the second year of a five year collection programme around the World’s oceans. I will be collecting samples from the RRS James Clark Ross. I will be tweeting @CarolArrowsmith and @ORCHESTRAPROJ and Facebooking (Orchestra project) along the way, as well as updating the BGS Geoblogy. Carol Arrowsmith is a chief technician in the stable isotope facility at the BGS.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Tropical palaeoclimate meeting as temperatures break records in the UK…by Heather Moorhouse

The DeepCHALLA group meeting in February 2019
In 2018, the UK NERC-funded collaborators of the International Continental scientific Drilling Program - DeepCHALLA project met in Cambridge amidst a Siberian blast, known as the “Beast from the East”, as temperatures plummeted and ice and snow disrupted UK travel. In 2019 however, the scientists met in tropical Lancaster, during maximum temperature records for the month of February. It is predicted that weather events will be increasingly unpredictable, variable and extreme, and the temperature differences between our two meetings merely serves to highlight the future under climate change.
 
This is why projects such as DeepCHALLA are important. If we can improve our understanding of what drives long-term climatic variability, we can then improve our predictions about what might happen in the future. Such predictions can help communities improve resilience to climate change. DeepCHALLA is a collaboration of scientists looking into ~250,000 years of climate and environmental change in equatorial east Africa. Much of our knowledge about global climate systems come from the poles so this is a fundamental research gap in which to explore.

The DeepCHALLA group meeting in February 2018
The meeting this February in Lancaster consisted of NERC-funded UK scientists from BGS, Cambridge University, Lancaster University, SUERC and Queens University, Belfast; alongside collaborators from Belgium and Israel. We have been looking into a variety of proxies from a lake sediment core taken  from Lake Challa, a deep volcanic crater lake on the Kenyan-Tanzanian border. There have been some exciting reconstructions of the past environment using the volcanic ash, radioactive isotopes, palaeomagnetic signals, and chemical markers from phytoplankton remains found within the sediments.

My role at Lancaster has involved working with the BGS group, to prepare samples from the organic matter and the phytoplankton remains found within the sediment. In other words, we have been looking at the chemical markers stored within these proxies that provide a unique snapshot of the environment at certain times in the lakes history. Specifically, we have been using these proxies to help understand changes in lake carbon cycling using the carbon isotopes and ratios of precipitation versus evaporation of the lake using the oxygen isotopes. We are particularly interested in the period known as the African “mega-droughts”, unprecedented periods of drought that lasted millennia and were believed to have occurred around 130-90 thousand years before present. Nearly (but not quite all…) of the laboratory analyses are complete and so, the next steps will involve bringing together all the proxies across the entire project, in order to provide a robust chronology of the “mega-droughts” and other events, and determine how the landscape and lake has evolved over time and how the climate may have helped shape this.

Heather is a post doctoral research assistant on the NERC funded grant (between Lancaster, BGS, Cambridge, Belfast, SUERC) based at Lancaster University.

Follow us on twitter @ICDP_DeepCHALLA and Facebook DeepCHALLA

Friday, 8 March 2019

Eloise: BGS Apprentice and Woman of the World!



As it's both National Apprenticeship Week and International Women's Day it would be remiss of us not to hear from another of our wonderful female apprentices. Today Eloise takes over the blog to tell us a little more about her experience at the BGS:


Hi, my name is Eloise, I am an apprentice at BGS and I am going to tell you about my experience so far!
When I finished school at 17 I really didn’t want to go to university; the idea of being in thousands of pounds worth of debt for a degree really didn’t appeal to me, not to mention the fact that I had no idea what career path I wanted to go down. I began as an apprentice in a leisure centre and became a qualified lifeguard / swimming teacher and gym instructor but soon realised that I wanted to expand my learning beyond the limits of a pool.

I started with the BGS in January 2018 after finding a Level 2 Business administration apprenticeship being advertised on the BGS website. Since then I have completed the Level 2 qualification and have been taken on again for another 18 months to complete Level 3.
I learnt more in one year about the working environment through on-the-job training than school ever taught me. 

My first twelve months at BGS went like a flash and it doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since my first day!  The amount of apprentices on site has grown considerably since I joined, and we now have people of all ages, from school leavers to full time staff wanting to learn a new skill. 


Currently my time is split between two teams; Corporate Communications and Business Development. This split has been fantastic for me, as it allowed me to experience the work that the two teams do and find out what I do best. I have a love for meeting and talking to new people, getting involved with projects and I have been really lucky to get involved in some really interesting events, such as the BGS family fun day at our Keyworth office. I love that the public gets to see so many things that they may not realise the BGS does!

At last year’s family fun day I was able to talk to members of the public about all the amazing things I had learnt so far in my apprenticeship and help out with activities for young children. I also helped with the set up and running of the event on the day and collecting feedback from visitors.  
As you can see from the photos, I had a lot of fun… captioned by my colleague Mike Ackroyd ‘Come to BGS and see the world’…. or be the world if you get overexcited like me!

This year’s open day is coming up soon so keep an eye out if you come along… I may or may not be trying out the Dino costume again.







Thursday, 7 March 2019

National Apprentice Week 2019



The British Geological Survey is passionate about developing minds and introducing people to science, whether it’s schoolchildren visiting our main Keyworth site – more on that next week – or offering apprenticeships within one of our many research, business development or communications teams. 

The BGSs apprenticeship programme welcomes both school leavers and those wanting a career change the opportunity to learn new skills and develop in both a professional and personal context within the British Geological Survey. As an organisation, we realise that not only do apprenticeships benefit those appointed, but that we as an employer and the wider economy as a whole are enriched by employing a new workforce with a thirst for learning.  

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we invited a few of our current apprentices to tell us a little bit about their role within the BGS, and how they’ve found the process:


Tom

My apprenticeship at the BGS is within the professional development team for Groundhog Desktop. My first six months alone have been such a steep learning curve, not only through moving from education to the world of work but also in developing new skills. Communication, independence, presentation skills and delivering training are just some of the areas within which the team at BGS have helped me to progress. With the creation of a 3D viewer to sixth form/school outreach providing the next generation of potential apprentices with the information they need on the opportunities out there, this apprenticeship and the team is allowing people to access some amazing opportunities to improve themselves.

Liam

I’m a Database Engineer and analyst at the BGS. I’ve only been here for about five weeks, however I settled in straight away and have learnt so much already. So far, I have been working with a team of experienced database developers to design a laboratory information management system. This has not just progressed my problem solving and IT skills but, more importantly, my communication skills and ability to work professionally and effectively in a team. I am very excited for all the opportunities I will face in the future to work a variety of different projects in the many different scientific fields that BGS takes part in.

Sam

I have been an apprentice at the BGS for six months now, working in informatics for data science for a business administration course. Although the transition from school to work has been entirely new to me, BGS helped fit me to a role that suits me best, as well as pushing me to become a better-rounded person. Offering different courses and activities, such as football, within the workplace has also been enjoyable and has helped me develop outside of an office setting. BGS has helped me understand the core qualities needed and desired within a workplace and has helped me to work on the skills I need, which has led to me being more confident within myself. BGS has made me feel welcome and useful within the company, taking care of me now and also looking toward my future career.

Megan

I work in the data ingestion team within the BGS. My apprenticeship course is a Business Administration Level 2 Qualification. I’ve been at the BGS just over six months now, and in that time I have already learnt so many new skills and come across new challenges. Working in a team that has enabled me to recognise and develop skills has been brilliant and has helped me to progress as a person, as well as in a work context. This apprenticeship has given me some fantastic opportunities and I look forward to the future.

Josh

Since starting my apprenticeship here at the BGS I’ve had all sorts of responsibilities in my role as a Digital Marketer. I’ve taken part in events, designed logos and infographics and produced newsletters which are sent out to thousands of people, helping to improve our product exposure. I’ve learnt so much from working here and from the wide variety of projects I have worked on. It’s helped me understand what my interests are and where I want to go next.


Liz

I recently completed an apprenticeship in Business Admin in the library at the British Geological Survey. The BGS offered me a path whereby I could learn the skills required to work in libraries ‘on-the-job’, gaining relevant and practical experience, without having to return to university and pursue a specialised (and expensive!) Library Science post-grad. The past one-and-a-bit years have been an extremely valuable experience as I have developed my skill set and learnt new things, especially with regards to communication, organisation & data handling. With libraries becoming increasingly digital, and the changes happening in how we publish (open-access etc.), it is a very interesting time to be working in a research library. I look forward to the rest of my time here and taking advantage of all of the opportunities that BGS has to offer.

Jonathan

I’m currently working at the BGS within the Groundhog Desktop development team as an Apprentice Software Developer. I have been working here for just over seven months and in that time I have learnt so much, not just in programming but also developing business skills. I have done lots of tasks whilst here, ranging from working on the Groundhog application to visiting a university to help train students in using the software. My experience at BGS has been invaluable in helping me progress as a person, and with the amazing opportunities that I’ve been offered so far, I can look forward to my future career.


The British Geological Survey’s apprenticeship scheme offers paid work for approximately one year and can lead, in some cases, to securing a permanent role within the company. Please keep your eye on our jobs page for details on upcoming schemes. 

#NationalApprenticeshipWeek #NationalApprenticeshipWeek2019 #NAW2019 #BGS #BritishGeologicalSurvey #GroundhogDesktop #Internships

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Capacity strengthening in field collections and laboratories for geochemical sampling and public health in Western Kenya...by David Samoie, Odipo Osano & Diana Menya

In late 2018 BGS was awarded funds from NERC via the GCRF funding initiative to supplement on-going activities in developing countries supported by the BGS-ODA programme, with one of the objectives to enhance activities at a local level.  Here David Samoie from the University of Eldoret describes a field collection initiative which he led and organized with this funding support.

This was to be the 5th field sample collection for a joint project between the University of Eldoret (UoE), Moi University (MU) and British Geological Survey (BGS) in collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO). The project seeks to explore a potential link between soil geochemistry and the spatial incidence of esophageal cancer and other human/animal health issues in the Great Rift Valley corridor in western Kenya – see previous blog.
 

Preparation and Training

 
For the previous 4 sampling trips, members of the BGS team led 3 separate field teams with two or three field assistants (academic leads from UE and Moi, technician and post graduate students) to help out in the field and in most Counties a Public Health Officer. Through the activity, training was provided in sampling and initial sample processing procedures for soil, drinking water, crops and urine from rural households, alongside data capture for each site onto fieldsheets.  Gradually each Kenyan member took on more responsibility with emphasis on quality assurance. Training included:
  • Detailed planning before and after sampling for sample locations and logistics.
  • Accurate record keeping in the field and cross-checking of samples with field lists.
  • Use of photography as backup of record in the field – daily back-up of field sheets.
  • Avoiding sample contamination and ensuring sample preservation.

Good isn’t always expensive! The sampling team was trained on the Use of Maps.Me. A free mobile Smartphone software application. This application is a very powerful tool in pre-sampling site planning, route guidance and recording of the geographic coordinates and altitude of actual sampling site.  Sampling an area of 3835 km2 with an even spatial spread would not have been possible without the support of the software and training. The sampling sites for our first independent field collection using the NERC-GCRF funds were predetermined using soil type/pH maps and locations for previous collections. Thirty selected sampling points were pre-assigned onto the mobile app.  (maps.me) and used to navigate from one site to another, making sure to get as close as practically possible to these predetermined GPS sites.

 

Sampling

 
Armed with smartphones, maps.me app. and other sampling gear the Kenyan team managed to collect 302 samples of Soil, Water, Urine and Plants, from 30 households in Bungoma and Busia counties in Western Kenya. Field data capture sheets were completed, along with water chemical parameters measured at each household.  Soil samples were sieved to 2 mm when found dry and plant samples were washed to remove surface contamination.
 
At the end of each day, samples were checked against field sheets, water and urine samples stored in cool boxes and plant/soil samples aired where possible. On completion, all samples were taken to the UoE lab for further processing before shipping to UK. The processing involved air drying of leafy vegetables in a glass house (circa 30oC); peeling and freeze drying of fruits and root vegetable; pulverizing grains by use of coffee grinders taking care to avoid cross contamination; and oven drying of soils. The soil samples were packed in zip lock bags, the leafy vegetables in paperbags and the rest of the samples were packed in vacuum sealed plastic bags.

 
All samples were cross checked again to prepare sample lists for export permission by the Kenyan Authorities (KEPHIS).
 
Waters and urines were refrigerated, soil samples were oven dried at 30oC and then split spilt to provide a reference sample to create an archive at UoE for future student projects and a portion to be sent to BGS for analyses.
 

Our experience - Challenges and Mitigations

 
  • Impassable roads. Because the sampling points were randomly and evenly spread on the map, sometimes it was hard to reach the actual locations.  The routes suggested by the software app. were sometimes practically impassable and minimal adjustments were to locations were made when required. Certainly 4x4 vehicles is recommended at all time during sampling.
  • Informed consent and honor of African Culture and taboos were adhered to. We strived to win confidence of household members and in many occasions the enthusiastically participated in sample collection at the field and provided required information.
  • At the time of sampling in January, it was dry season and the roads were more easily passable, but very dusty. Travelling for about 200 km everyday for 5-6 days on unpaved and dusty roads was testing. The area of sampling also required more precautions for mosquitoes.

Benefits of sampling and laboratory experience to UoE


This sampling exercise has greatly benefited UoE lab staff and students to put into practice the training received from BGS for field collections and instigation of quality assurance procedures from collection to lab data output. Via this training in Kenya and through training secondments to BGS funded by Professional Fellowships (CSCUK-ACU) for David Samoei (May-2017) and Doreen Meso (May-2019), the UoE laboratory capacity has been greatly enhanced by this interchange of experience.

The lab has also benefitted greatly with equipment procured for sampling. These include Freeze driers, coffee grinder, balances, sieves, and other expendable laboratory supplies, soon to be joined by equipment to improve capacity in preparing samples for chemical analyses via BGS and a network of jointly funded grants’ applications.

Our future prospects is to undertake more processing of sample collections at UoE, such as basic and fundamental tests like pH, LOIs and chemical extractions to a greater quality of output with guidance from high end facility labs such as at BGS and other partners in the network. This will greatly reduce the workload in BGS in relation to processing samples from Africa, through building confidence in local capability. These will necessitate further training and exchange of skills to be able to develop data outputs to international standards comparable for publication and to be able to offer paid analytical services within Kenya to provide sustainable and more regular sources of income using our peers as a benchmark.

This collaboration so far has opened opportunities for individuals in our labs, as well as a widening network to bid for joint proposals for a broadening range of research projects in the theme of environmental geochemistry and health. Continuing collaboration with BGS will help to develop the network of funded projects and to build local capability through practical experience and supplementation of equipment where possible.                      

Acknowledgements


We acknowledge the funding from the NERC-GCRF funds, via the BGS-ODA programme for this sampling trip and previous support over the last few years. Technical support from the BGS Team (Dr Michael Watts, Dr. Andy Marriot, Dr. Dan Middleton, Humphrey Olivier) especially the ever present remote assistance, constructive criticism and reminders from Dr. Michael on Whatsapp platform; the  sampling team (David Samoei, Doreen Meso, Job Isaboke, Esilaba Anabwani, Melvive Anyango, Amimo Anabwani, for exacting themselves during whole sampling period; Prof Odipo and Dr. Diana Menya for effective local coordination, pre-visits to the local Health facilities: Public health Officers, Community Health Workers and Community Heath Volunteers of Bungoma and Busia Sub county Hospitals for effective community entry; and the Management of University of Eldoret and Moi University for its support during the whole process.

Monday, 4 March 2019

From Chile to the Falklands and beyond: ORCHESTRA Part 2...by Carol Arrowsmith

A Magellanic penguin
Carol Arrowsmith is currently part taking in an expedition to the Southern Ocean as part of ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate by Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transports), a NERC funded programme with partners at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) (lead), the National Oceanography Centre, (NOC) Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and many more including BGS.  

I left the UK last Saturday and flew to Punta Arenas in Chile. There we waited (with various, BAS, NOC and university colleagues) to board the RRS James Clark Ross; a few days later we departed for the Falkland Islands. On board our first task was to lash down all the equipment in the ship’s laboratories needed for our sampling and familiarise ourselves with the layout of the ship. We have been accompanied for most of the journey so far by a variety of birds and mammals, including magnificent black-browed albatross, that mostly just sit in the water surrounding the ship waiting for food (to upwell from beneath the ship).

Carol in front of the RRS James Clark Ross in Stanley
After three days sailing we docked at Stanley, Falkland Islands. We were unexpectedly granted 3 hours shore leave so some of us disembarked (even after 3 days of an 8 week cruise it was great to be on land!)…The Falklands bright and breezy as its late summer here.  We walked to nearby Gypsy Cove, the most accessible wildlife site from the capital city. It is part of the Cape Pembroke peninsula which is a National Nature Reserve. The small bay with its white sandy beach is sheltered from prevailing winds and is home to good numbers of Magellanic penguins who breed here, nesting underground in burrows.

Heading back to the ship, we were caught in a hailstorm and there was even some snow, all to be expected in a day in the Falklands!

In Stanley we dropped off some crew and picked up a mass spectrometer and fresh supplies. We are now heading  for the Drake Passage and to the Antarctic Peninsula, some of the roughest oceans in the world! We expect to start sampling soon after…


ORCHESTRA is in the second year of a five year collection programme around the World’s oceans. I will be collecting samples from the RRS James Clark Ross. I will be tweeting @CarolArrowsmith and @ORCHESTRAPROJ and Facebooking (Orchestra project) along the way, as well as updating the BGS Geoblogy. Carol Arrowsmith is a chief technician in the stable isotope facility at the BGS. 

Friday, 1 March 2019

Increasing data exploration through a single licence


Unlocking the value in geospatial data

Geographically referenced data or ‘geospatial’ data has become an increasingly important part of our day to day lives. On a personal level it’s been helping us plan routes, holidays, where to live and shop. Behind the scenes, it’s helping power online retailers, set insurance prices, and prioritise where roads, schools and homes are built. Britain has some of the best geospatial data in the world, and whether we realise it or not, it is changing the way we see the world and the way we live our lives.
In 2018, the UK Government set up the Geospatial Commission as an impartial expert committee within the Cabinet Office, to drive the move to use public and private sector geospatial data more productively. Research estimates that this could contribute up to £11 billion of extra value for the economy every year. The British Geological Survey (BGS), along with HM Land Registry, the Ordnance Survey, the Valuation Office Agency, the UK Hydrographic Office and the Coal Authority have been identified as Partner Bodies of the Commission as we hold the UK’s most valuable location data. As partner bodies we are working with the Commission to make the most of the opportunities presented by geospatial data. Before we can do that our first challenge is to remove some of the barriers or blockers that restrict access to data.

Removing the licence barrier

One of these barriers identified by the Geospatial Commission was licensing. Anyone who has tried to access any form of protected data will appreciate that conditions placed on data can severely hamper access. Getting past the legal terms and conditions can cause real headaches.
Licensing of data is an important function for many organisations including BGS. It helps to protect our intellectual property, explains the limits of liability and ensures it can be re-used in a way that allows us to generate income which supports the ongoing maintenance of the underlying data. We can’t simply remove terms and conditions nor switch to an ‘open’ licence. We can, however, make the terms under which we supply data easier to understand and consistent with the other Partner Bodies.

Harmonised terms for data exploration

Under a Geospatial Commission funded project, licensing experts from the partner bodies, have been working to create a single Data Exploration Licence to enable anyone to take data from our organisations under harmonised terms. The Data Exploration Licence will allow anyone to freely access data while they research and develop ideas and propositions. They can even display their results and create working prototypes before having to commit a commercial arrangement.
The partner bodies anticipate rolling out the Data Exploration Licence in April but we’re keen to start talking about it now. If you’re want to know more about this or the wider project to simplify licences please contact Gerry Wildman.
  
A geospatial data revolution requires a licensing revolution. We’re hoping this is the first step on a journey to more closely aligning licenses across the Geospatial Commission’s Partner Bodies.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Investigating the Southern Ocean: Part 1…by Carol Arrowsmith

Carol organising her equipment at BAS prior to departure
In a few days I will be embarking on my leg of the major NERC project called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transport) to collect seawater samples for isotope analysis. My leg is called ANDREX II - Antarctic Deep Water Rates of Export (ANDREX), and is the second time this part of the ocean has been sampled. I will be boarding the RRS James Clark Ross in Punta Arenas and following a stop off in the Falklands will start sampling from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula along the 60°S parallel and across the Southern Ocean to 30°E, before returning to the Falklands in mid April.


Why are we collecting seawater samples from the World’s oceans?

Since the industrial revolution, the global ocean has absorbed around 30% of anthropogenic (human-produced) CO2 emissions. In addition, 93% of the total extra heat in the Earth system since the onset of global warming has been absorbed by the global ocean. Improving climate prediction requires us to learn more about how the global ocean works, and how it interacts with the atmosphere to control the split of heat and carbon between them, especially given the extra heat and carbon we are currently producing.


The Southern Ocean is key

A key region in this context is the Southern Ocean, the vast sea that encircles Antarctica. The Southern Ocean occupies around 20% of the total ocean area, but absorbs about three-quarters of the heat that is taken into the ocean, and approximately half of the CO2. This is because of its unique pattern of ocean circulation: it is the main region where deep waters rise to the surface, allowing new water masses to form and sink back into the ocean interior. This exposure of “old” waters to the atmosphere, and the production of new waters at the surface, is fundamental to the exchanges of heat and carbon with the atmosphere.


The track of the ANDREXII cruise
Despite knowing the key role that the Southern Ocean plays in global climate, there are many important unknowns. These include how exactly heat and carbon are taken up by the oceans and how fast this occurs (especially important because of the Anthropocene period we are living in), and how much heat and carbon is currently stored in the oceans. These questions are being addressed using various chemical and physical measurements of the ocean, including the stable isotope composition of the seawater (which we are responsible for at the BGS). Oxygen isotopes will tell us about how much freshwater to seawater there is at particular locations (which will help us understand melting of the Antarctic ice mass and therefore heat) and carbon isotopes will tell us where the carbon is formed and how the ocean uses the carbon.  

The ANDREX leg in particular seeks to assess the role of the Weddell gyre in driving the southern closure of the meridional overturning circulation, in ventilating the deep global ocean, and in sequestering carbon and nutrients in the global ocean abyss.


Progress

ORCHESTRA is in the second year of a five year collection programme around the World’s oceans. I will be collecting samples from the RRS James Clark Ross. I will be tweeting @CarolArrowsmith and @ORCHESTRAPROJ and Facebooking (Orchestra project) along the way, as well as updating the BGS Geoblogy. Carol Arrowsmith is a chief technician in the stable isotope facility at the BGS. 




ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate by Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transports) is a programme funded by NERC and includes partners at the British Antarctic Survey (lead), the National Oceanography Centre, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and many more including BGS.

Monday, 18 February 2019

How to heat a city…and decarbonise it using heat pumps!...by David Boon and Gareth Farr

With only 11 years to go until the first UK emissions target deadline, the race is now on for the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 57% by 2030 of 1990 levels. BGS geoscientists, David Boon and Gareth Farr ask ‘How on earth will we do it?’.

Cartoon illustrating the concept of using shallow urban aquifers and
heat pumps in district heat networks.
Credits: City of Cardiff Council/BGS/WDS Green Energy Ltd
In our first blog titled 'How to Heat a City', we announced our intention to install a pilot open loop Groundwater Source Heat Pump (GWHP), as part of an InnovateUK funded feasibility study to better understand how UK shallow aquifers can supply low carbon heating in urban areas. The recently established Cardiff Urban Geo Observatory hosts the GWHP pilot, which is conveniently surrounded by a world class groundwater monitoring network with over 100 temperature sensors in 60 boreholes, providing high resolution baseline data. Groundwater in urban areas can be slightly warmer than rural areas, due to the ‘subsurface Urban Heat Island effect’, and this human footprint actually makes heat pumps run more efficiently.

The pilot GWHP scheme is a collaboration between WDS Green Energy, City of Cardiff Council and the British Geological Survey. The physical infrastructure comprises two shallow boreholes (~20 m deep) that abstract and simultaneously re-inject shallow groundwater from an ice-age sand and gravel aquifer which underlies much of the city.

The heat pump system works by passing groundwater through a heat exchanger where 2 Kelvin degrees of its thermal energy is transferred to a heat pump which uses a gas phase-change to raise the water temperature to a useable 46oC. The heat pump keeps the inside of the school at a comfortable 22oC using a renewable energy resource that has low carbon emissions and is cheaper to run than the old gas boilers. 

As part of the InnovateUK project we fully instrumented the heat pump system with sensors above and below ground to allow us to follow its long-term environmental impact and energy performance. The project proved this technology could be scaled-up across Cardiff and other UK cities with similar shallow aquifers, where the geology allows.

The GSHP pilot plant room and associated monitoring and data telemetry. (Credit: BGS-UKRI)
Shallow aquifers can be a super-efficient way to run a heat pump as the borehole pumps do not require much energy to lift the water compared with deeper schemes. The energy efficiency of our pilot GSHP system is around 450 %, over four times more efficient than a condensing gas boiler, and is actually saving the council money on its energy bills!  And what about that all important CO2 target? …well after 3 years' the pilot GWHP had reduced the cost of heating with a 35 % reduction in CO2 emissions from the school overall.

The project has also had impact on energy policy in Welsh Government and was featured as a case study in a recent National Assembly for Wales Low Carbon Heat Research Briefing. The Cardiff Urban Geo-Observatory, which includes the heat pump monitoring pilot, has also been selected along with the Glasgow UKGEOS site as a pilot area for a new 3-year EU GeoERA project called MUSE (Managing Urban Shallow Geothermal Energy), and as a European Plate Observing System (EPOS) site.

CO2 emissions reductions resulting from switching from a gas boiler to a
shallow groundwater source heat pump.
Data courtesy of Cardiff City Council.
We will continue to monitor the environmental impact of the scheme on the aquifer source, and the BGS Geothermal Team is keen to support other UK cities in their journey to explore their range of geothermal resources. The project has also attracted lots of interest from industry keeping the project’s Principal Investigator, David Boon, busy giving presentations to stakeholders such as the IEA Heat Pump Technologies Annex 52 meeting in London in September 2018, seminars for Construction Excellence Wales and APSE Energy. The research findings will feature in a new CIBSE Code Of Practice (CP3) and in peer-reviewed papers.

Although open-loop ground source heat exchangers are not suitable in all geological environments, we have been working to understand the wider 3D geological and hydrogeological settings at a city-scale, with the release of a 3D superficial geology model of Cardiff. This evidence will allow better ‘above’ and ‘below-ground’ planning and regulation, and will (we hope) stimulate market growth in renewable energy systems and supply chains.  More demonstration projects like this are needed to improve the image and public perception of renewables. Local authorities can invest in renewable energy such as heat pumps using interest-free Government-backed finance schemes like the SALIX finance and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. Case studies such as ours can give society and business the confidence to invest in shallow geothermal technologies to accelerate the energy transition.

Acknowledgements
David Boon and Gareth Farr have jointly managed and overseen the creation of the Cardiff Urban Geo Observatory (2014 – 2018).  The project has evolved naturally out of City Region Geoscience project (under former Chief Geologist Wales, Dave Schofield), the 2015 InnovateUK feasibility project (led by David Boon), and by listening to local stakeholders in Wales. Massive thanks go out to the project team: Ashley Patton, David Schofield, Alan Holden, Rhian Kendall, Laura James, Steve Thorpe, Corinna Abesser, Johanna Scheidegger, Jon Busby, Susanne Self, BGS Dando Drilling Facility, and others. Key partners are Cardiff Harbour Authority, City of Cardiff Council, WDS Green Energy, David Tucker (Nu Vision Energy (Wales)), and Innovate UK/ BEIS. @BGSWales