Almost three months have passed since the “hot” phase of the Ortler project, meaning those three weeks in September and October 2011, when an international research team extracted for the very first time an ice core from the bottom of the summit of the Ortler glacier in the Eastern Alps. This happened four times: the team was able to extract a 75 metre ice core three times and a 60 metre core once.
During that same period some 20 high school students from the surrounding area got involved through educational activities organised by the same researchers. The goal was to bring teachers and students to the place where the research was taking place – and while it was ongoing – in order to allow them to “witness” the research.
The ice cores were cut, packed and sent on a long journey. They were stored in freezers and then transported by truck and plane, crossing the Atlantic Ocean before reaching the cold chamber of the Byrd Polar Centre in Columbus City (Ohio, USA). Some of the ice cores are still stored in the laboratory of the University of Venice, awaiting preliminary analysis. As to the detailed analysis, the researchers involved are currently gathering the necessary resources. That again is the most challenging part of the research. Their goal is to collect all the data from the analyses in order to be able eventually to dedicate themselves to interpreting the findings.
During the past months the participants in the project’s educational activities have slowly been processing their experience. Students and teachers have rethought their experience, also thanks to the activities which have been carried out in the ten participating schools. Some of them have published reports on the portal TIMU, some have returned to the subjects discussed during the Camp in class, some have looked at photos, and others have prepared a presentation of their experience forthe Science days at EURAC.
Today we are publishing some of the materials collected during the students’ and teachers’ visit to the perforation site: a picture gallery and a short video collage. By looking at them one can see how much the participants (the students Giulia Carella, Gulia Denti and Philip Verdross and their teachers Franca Antonietti from the Torricelli high school in Bolzano/Bozen and Philip Aspmaier from a high school in Meran) experienced. But we think that these visual reports are not enough to explain what happened. This can be better illustrated by reading a short interview given by Philip during the Science days at EURAC. We have published this here in full:
Professor, at the very beginning I had not really understood what this project was going to be about and I thought it would just be one of the many. Until I reached the glacier and saw the perforation site. Something happened there. While a researcher was explaining the perforation system, he had to stop because the drill had reached a stone and could not go any further. The researcher, who had been giving us the explanation, started to discuss with his colleagues and the technicians. That lasted a long time, and they were quite concerned. It was not clear, what the best course of action would be. The mood was tense. We were like an audience. The problem was then solved. But I was able to understand: during research, unforeseen events can occur, no matter how well you have planned and organised your work. Really, ANYTHING could happen. It is a real adventure, during which nothing is predictable or certain. Only now I am I able to understand it. Thanks to a stone.
Philip Verdross ( “A. Einstein” high school, Meran, Bolzano/Bozen)