Saturday, 24 May 2014

Grand Alpine Tour

After Monday night's lecture of the Pole of Cold expedition, it's time for the latest Going Beyond expedition.
This year's trip is not going quite as far as Oymyakon, but is heading for the Alps on the Grand Alpine Tour expedition.
The Twitter feed is up and running and the Land Rover has been prepared.

Here are some details from the expedition website.

The Grand Alpine Tour is a 6,000 mile journey across the European Alps in the footsteps of some of the earliest explorers, scientists and artists throughout the summer of 2014, to quantify landscape change. The original Grand Tour was a journey across Europe and an educational rite-of-passage for young gentlemen of the 16th and 17th centuries. Travellers often found themselves captivated and inspired by the diversity and enormity of the Alpine landscapes, and captured their thoughts and impressions with works of art that even today, continue to decorate the walls of galleries, museums and private collections around the world. With such an extensive and renowned heritage, the European Alps hold a rich archive of art, photography and scientific research, that provide an extensive inventory of change through time, which the team hope to utilise and expand their knowledge and datasets beyond that permitted by contemporary methods alone.
The team of the Grand Alpine Tour aim to further our understanding of the magnitude, frequency and spatial distribution of landslides above thinning and retreating glaciers in the European Alps. Understanding the past and present spatial and temporal distribution of landslides is fundamental to looking for changes in these patterns and key to answering important questions relating to future landscape development. To do this, they’ll be combining contemporary 3D data that they’ll collect along the journey, with historic photographs, paintings and datasets; some of which, are held at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Among other methods, the team will fly an unmanned hexacopter above glaciers and mountain slopes to capture hundreds of aerial photographs, which will be combined to create highly-detailed 3D models which, when compared with repeat models created over various time periods, will document change in the landscape. The team are helping to pioneer this innovative technique as a new method for monitoring landscape change.
The Grand Alpine Tour team will be driving in a Land Rover Defender 110 that has been specially designed and built for the journey, collecting contemporary geospatial data and photography. Their work will provide resources for the RGS (with IBG)’s ‘From the Field‘ program; enabling geography teachers to work alongside practitioners at the cutting edge of geographical research to develop educational resources for the classroom.
The recipients of the bursary are Northumbria University geographers Mark Allan, Dr Mike Lim and Thomas Shaw, who are all active researchers with a substantial amount of experience in the field between them. They will be supported along the journey by artist, Dan Holdsworth, senior lecturer and Mark’s primary PhD supervisor, Dr Stuart Dunning, and several other researchers who will meet them at different stages, to support their work in alpine environments.
The team will depart from the UK early in June 2014 before travelling across France, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, expecting to arrive back in the UK mid-September.

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