Ortles Day: Research meets School through the Atlantic Ocean

Just some decades ago it would have been incredible to still imagine it! Three research centers in different locations connected to speak about science in front of an audience of students, teachers and researchers from different countries. This is what happened during the first ” Ortles Day”.

The multi-broadcast event among the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University, the European Academy or Research of Bolzano (Italy) and the Botanical Institute of the University of Innsbruck (Austria) has been a success in science and outreach. Topics of the meeting: ice cores, pollens and their use in the paleoclimatology. But the undisputed protagonist of the day has been the Ortles Project, that in 2016 turns 8 years old.

The value of this kind of event is building bridges between research and school that in countries,such as Italy, are really disconnected from each other. Students, both Italians and Americans, present at the meeting gave a vital impulse to the organization. They represent the future of science and the whole planet.


Here the program of the event.

From USA to Europe: the first "Ortles Day"

Today, April 14th, a meeting about the Ortles Project will be held among 3 locations connected via a multi-broadcast event: the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University, the EURAC of Bolzano in Italy, and the Institute of Botany of the University of Innsbruck in Austria. Topics of the meeting include ice cores, pollen, education events, paleoclimatology and last findings of the Ortles Project.
In fact, in Europe, many people wonder: what happened to the ice cores extracted from the Ortles glacier in 2011?
Below the flyer (in English).
Stay tuned, and we will update you.



A first indication that ancient ice was still present in the Tyrolean Alps arose from the 1991 discovery of the famous ~5200 years old Tyrolean Ice Man who emerged from the low elevation ablating ice field of the Hauslabjoch (3210 m) located ~30 km from Mt. Ortles, the highest mountain in South Tyrol, in the Italian Eastern Alps. This discovery provided an exceptional time window into our past history, focusing on how humans were interacting with the Alpine environment in the Neolithic and how rapid climate change may have affected their life, also contributing to bury the Tyrolean Ice Man first in snow and then in ice.

The 5.2 kyr old Tyrolean Ice Man (right) that emerged in 1991 from the ablating ice at the Hauslabjoch, ~30 km north of Mt. Ortles. Landesgendarmeriekommando fur Tirol/Austria


Una studentessa del Campus di Glaciologia sull' Ortles ci scrive : Ein Tag Antarktis in Sulden

Das Eis und der Schnee unter den Füßen knirschen. Hin und wieder erspäht man den Schatten eines Felsens, ansonsten ist man von einer weißen Welt umgeben. Die Windböen ziehen und zerren an allem, was ihnen im Wege steht. Und trotzdem verschluckt die Stille der Eiswüste fast vollständig das Stapfen der Bergsteiger.


20 Schülerinnen und Schüler deutscher und italienischer Maturaklassen aus ganz Südtirol, haben sich dieses Jahr in Begleitung erfahrener Bergführer auf die Suldenspitze gewagt. Trotz polarähnlicher Wetterverhältnisse, hat es eine kleine Gruppe bis auf den Gipfel geschafft.

La sera precedente i giovani hanno partecipato a una videoconferenza con Alessia Cicconi, una ex-insegnante italiana che lavora all’università a Columbus (Ohio, USA). Lei ha avuto la possibilità di vivere alcuni mesi nel posto più arido del mondo: nell’Antartide. Alessia ha raccontato della sua esperienza straordinaria: ha trascorso l’estate nella base italiana.


Glaciology Camp 2015



Dal 15 al 19 settembre si è svolta in località “Franzenshöhe” nel Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio la quinta edizione del seminario scientifico bilingue incentrato sui ghiacciai, la loro vita ed i fenomeni che li caratterizzano organizzato dal settore innovazione e consulenza del Dipartimento alla formazione di lingua tedesca in collaborazione con l’Area pedagogica dell’omologo Dipartimento di lingua italiana.


Paleoclimatology from Mount Ortles to the USA


Hi! My name is Giuliano and I come from Venosta Valley (Italy), a beautiful, tiny place in the heart of the European Alps. Given my background in environmental physics and my passion for the mountains, the ice and nature brought me to the new job I have started.

Me hiking in South Tyrol (Photo: Giuliano Bertagna)
Me hiking in South Tyrol (Photo: Giuliano Bertagna)

I work at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, in the USA. This is one of the few research teams in the world that specializes in retrieving ice cores from high altitude areas and glaciers, such as the Alps. My project will last two years and will be summarized in a final report about climate and glaciers in the Bolzano Province.

The Byrd Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, USA (Photo: Giuliano Bertagna)
The Byrd Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, USA (Photo: Giuliano Bertagna)
Mount Ortles and Columbus, Ohio in the world
Mount Ortles and Columbus, Ohio in the world


Summer school in Glaciology 2014


The 4th edition of the summer school in Glaciology, organized in the framework of the Ortles Project, involved 22 students from Italian and German high schools of the Province of Bolzano.

The summer school occurred between Sep. the 16thand 19th at the Hotel Refuge Franzenshöhe, located at 2200 m along the road to the Stelvio Pass in South Tyrol. The first day of the summer school the students learned the geological and petrographic properties of metamorphic rocks that are typical of the Stelvio area (paragneiss and orthogneiss). In addition permafrost and the role that it plays in shaping the landscape were studied.


High altitude illness

EURAC Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine


Staying two weeks at almost 4000 m on the peak of Ortles Mountain is not only a stress for the body but also a considerable logistical difficulty in the case of a rescue” says Giacomo Strapazzon, vice head of the EURAC Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine. It is for this reason that the Ortles project members needed an assistance medical team during the field work. But beyond the safety aspect, the expedition had ideal characteristics to perform an independent study on high altitude illnesses. In contrast to previous work in this field in which participants are monitoring during gradual ascent at high altitude, our participants were transported by helicopter to 4000 m, i.e. without physical effort and within a few minutes, and remained at this altitude for 2 weeks. This allowed complete monitoring of the acute acclimatization process of the body after this rapid ascent to altitude. The medical research included traditional clinical examination as well as ultrasonography and blood analysis before and during the expedition. Ultrasonography of the optic nerve and lungs were tested as a possible tool for early diagnosis of high altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema, two of the most important causes of death among mountaineers.