Published on October 9th, 2015 | by JULIA LINDSTRÖM
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
RESEARCH AT THE FACULTY OF MATHEMATICS AND NATURAL SCIENCES
During preparation of the last MatNatPrat journalists’ meeting, where potential next issue subjects and articles would be discussed, we came up with the idea to write an article presenting various research groups at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Well, the idea seemed good, but its realization turned out to be more difficult than we expected. One glance at the web page with all the MN faculty research groups listed was enough to understand, that if we were to explore all groups in one newspaper issue, it would be its main and only topic. Seriously, the amount of the research groups is so impressively high that our initial article will inevitably stretch into a series of shorter extracts, covering several randomly chosen groups.
We hope the information provided in this series will be useful for any of you who is interested in the possibilities of an academic career, searching for an idea for a future master project or is just curious about what all these numerous university research groups are actually doing.
Geophysical Institute, Meteorology
The most important goals of the research activities conducted by the meteorology group is to make weather forecast more reliable and to improve our understanding of the atmospheric process. Additional work is done on improvement of measuring techniques and obtaining valuable data for studies of the physical processes in the atmosphere.
The research includes theory, observation and modelling and is conducted within four major areas: atmospheric dynamics, boundary layer, atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions and radiation.
Atmospheric dynamics deals with the physical understanding of the atmospheric flow with focus on cyclones, storm tracks, meso-scale flow over and around mountains, as well as Arctic weather.
Boundary layer meteorology includes small-scale process studies on the Atmospheric Boundary Layer (ABL, which is the lowest part of atmosphere) structure and turbulence. The data, measured during the research, is also used for the test and validation of Numerical weather prediction models, e.g. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model .
Atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions group members investigate ocean and sea ice systems as they are a potential source of climate predictability. Among the detailed focus points are inter-annual and long-term sea ice–atmosphere interaction, tropical and mid-latitude cyclones and their interaction with the ocean and some others.
Research concerning the determination of the Earth’s radiation budget is valuable for climate and solar energy studies, as well as climate modelling. Radiation measurements data come from the group’s Radiation Observatory and radiation measurements at an offshore platform (EKOFISK).
This is interesting
Starting from September 21, 2015, there is a new free open online course, devoted to climate change issues and developed by Professor Asgeir Sorteberg at the Geophysical Institute and Professor Kerim Nisancioglu at the Department of Earth Science. The main goal is to provide the basis for understanding the underlying physical processes governing climate variations in the past, present and future. The course name is “Causes of climate change” and is available for signing in on www.futurelearn.com.
Department of Earth Science, Quaternary Earth Systems
The major focus of the research activities of the Quaternary Earth Systems group are different geological processes that occurred during the past millions of years. The major research projects are focused in and around the North Atlantic, in both polar regions, in the Himalaya and in Russia.
Different deposits on the Earth’s surface (such as marine and lake sediments, carbonate and sediment deposits in caves) are studied as part of this process. Two research directions can be defined here: process study and palaeoclimatic reconstructions.
The aim of the former is to better understand the geological history mainly during the ice age period (last 2.6 million years). The latter are directed towards reconstructing climate change backwards in time in order to understand how past climate has varied.
Advanced laboratories (such as Uranium-series laboratory and laboratory for cosmogenic nuclides) and coring equipment for marine and terrestrial sediments, as well as a national infrastructure for sediment analyses, EARTHLAB, are used by the group members.
Department of Biology, Evolutionary Ecology (EvoFish)
This research group studies eco-evolutionary biology from applied and fundamental perspectives. Different approaches among with experiments, statistics and computer modelling, as well as many different model species (guppies, daphnids, salmon lice, salmon and gobies) are used in the research process.
There are three main problems the group is working at the moment:
– Does the selective removal of large fish have ecological and evolutionary consequences on the fish populations? In populations that are heavily fished long living and being large is no longer beneficial, while individuals that live “like it is their last day on earth” (grow fast, mature early) are favoured. This change due to fishing pressure may have important implications for the viability of the fish populations and the productivity and benefits of fishing to the society.
– How intensive aquaculture affects salmon lice? The salmon louse is a parasite living on salmon causing damages on the skin and even death. Thus, it’s a problem for wild and farmed salmon. The life history strategy of this parasite is explored by means of comparing individuals from farmed salmon and wild salmon, and how the parasite has evolved to adapt to these different environments.
– Does rearing environment affect the fish for restocking? Fish are reared in captivity to be later released in the wild in order to recover declining wild populations. However, these restocking programmes normally fail. Particularly, the group members are interested in rehabilitating the wild Vosso salmon populations and study whether the rearing conditions during the captivity process can be improved to obtain “better” or “smarter” individuals that will be released and have an improved survival in the wild.
There are some master projects mentioned on the group’s university web page, but according to EvoFish researcher Beatriz Diaz Pauli, bachelor students are also welcome to make their contribution and contact Evolutionary Ecology group members either in case they are interested in exploring one of the abovementioned topics or if they would like to suggest their own ideas for the future project.
We will continue the presentation of the MN faculty research groups in the next issue of MatNatPrat.