Arctic bound student to share experience with Aberdeen pupils

Arctic bound student to share experience with Aberdeen pupils

An Arctic bound student who is set to brave some of the world’s harshest conditions will give Aberdeen school pupils an insight into preparations for her trip today (Thursday February 4).

Marie Porter will journey to Svalbard - a cluster of islands in the Arctic Ocean which experiences 24 hour darkness and daylight at certain times of year and is heavily populated by polar bears and reindeer – later this month.

She will spend 6 weeks at the University Centre in Svalbard investigating how climate change is impacting on glaciers in the area

Marie has organised the trip as part of her PhD in physical oceanography and glaciology which she is undertaking at the UHI Millennium Institute, co-supervised by academics at the University of Aberdeen.

Over the course of her trip Marie will share her experiences with pupils from St Machar Academy and Achaleven School in Oban, via live video links.

She will also keep a blog documenting her daily activity which will be followed by the pupils online.

During a visit to St Machar Academy today, Marie will explain more about the climate of Svalbard and its place in the Arctic.

She will also show pupils some of the equipment – such as crampons, cross-country skis and ice axes – which she will be using to combat the extremely cold and dangerous living environment she will experience.

Twenty three year old Marie, who is originally from Yorkshire said: “The trip to Svalbard promises to be the experience of a lifetime presenting a unique opportunity to conduct research in this fascinating environment which is undergoing vast changes due to climate change.

“When I arrive in Svalbard it will be just emerging from its season of 24 hour darkness and the daily temperature will be around -10.°C

“I’ve been preparing for the trip by doing lots of outdoor hikes in the Cairngorms and West Highlands using crampons and axes to try to get a feel for what the conditions in the Arctic will be like.  Luckily the snowy weather we’ve been experiencing in Scotland has been massively beneficial to me!

“During my time in Svalbard I will be taking a 6 week course which will feed into the work I’m doing on glaciology for my PhD.  A lot of my time will involve field studies where I will actually be out investigating and researching the landscape.

 “I’m really looking forward to sharing insights into my experience with the school pupils during live web link ups. I’ll be able to show them the view from my window and talk them through the different experiences I’ve been through with the aim of inspiring them to learn more about the Arctic.

“At the moment the thought of journeying to a completely different part of the world to live in such unique conditions seems surreal – but I’m extremely excited. 

Dr Lizzie Molyneux, a Teaching Fellow in the University of Aberdeen’s School of Physical Sciences who has co-ordinated Marie’s liaison with the schools said: “Marie is set to live through some of the most unique experiences of her life over the course of her 6 week trip, and it is exciting that she has chosen to share those experiences with pupils from the local area and beyond.”

Marie can be followed on Twitter at: