The Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology… by PhD students Hennie Detlef and Amy Sparkes

Hennie Detlef 
From 15 July to 1 August, 71 students from all over the world came together in the small town of Urbino, Italy to attend the 12th Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology (USSP). After several long hours spent travelling, at times asking ourselves why anyone would choose such a small, relatively remote town for a summer school, we finally arrived and the reason instantly became clear. Urbino, a World Heritage Site set in the spectacular hills of the Marche region, has retained most of its beautiful old town with the university and accommodation situated right in the centre!

The scientific backgrounds of the students were as diverse as their nationalities, but all of us had at least one thing in common; an eager interest in how the Earth’s system and climate has evolved through the past. It was great to engage with a wider scientific community of young researchers all interested in the same area. USSP illustrated the breadth of palaeoclimatology as not only the students but also the faculty, an amazing group of scientists researching at the forefront of our field, was as varied as it possibly could be.

USSP Field Trip 
After an icebreaker party on the first evening, lectures began the next day. The first week was spent learning about basic palaeoclimatological approaches, including biostratigraphy, the construction of age models, climate modelling and sessions on biotic and geochemical proxies. After a one day field trip to the PETM and the K-T boundary, sessions became more analytical with orbital analyses of data collected in the field, providing some hands-on experience with “astrochron” and climate modelling in general. Towards the end of the summer school we travelled through Cenozoic time learning about the newest insights on key geological intervals, from the PETM to the Holocene. Not only did the lectures prove invaluable; so did the interaction with both faculty and other students during poster sessions and breaks. This opportunity was more than helpful, enabling us to discuss our research, exchange ideas, seek opinions on our research questions and data interpretation and foster future collaboration possibilities. Even though it could be a little intimidating to approach some of the world-leading scientists in our field, they encouraged discussion and were always happy to help.

Amy Sparkes 
We were fortunate enough to attend USSP with the help of an ECORD scholarship and would recommend attending USSP to anyone interested in palaeoclimatology. It is a fantastic opportunity to advance your knowledge of fundamental palaeoclimatological principles and increase your understanding of how proxy data interpretation and climate modelling interact. Best of all, it is a chance to meet like-minded people at the same stage of their research careers. The last day in Urbino felt a bit like the last day of summer camp when you have to say goodbye to all your new friends and go back to reality, but everyone went home bursting with new ideas and enthusiasm about their research! We are very grateful to all those who made USSP such a fulfilling and unforgettable experience. This year’s USSP shirts are green and pink, so watch out for us at the next Conference!

By BGS BUFI student Hennie Detlef with help from Amy Sparkes (both from Cardiff University)

Hennie is being supervised by Dr Sindia Sosdian, Dr Carrie Leah, Prof Ian Hall (Cardiff University) and Dr Sev Kender, Prof Melanie Leng (BGS).


Unknown said…
So inspiring, I really want to go there!!