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Salford students to visit Zermatt after climate change study gets green light

May 09, 2018

Professor David Collins (1949-2016)
Professor David Collins (1949-2016)

One of Europe’s longest-running climate change studies will enter its 44th summer – thanks to students and academics here at Salford. The Alpine Glacier Project, which measures mountain meltwater quality and quantity, will continue this June, despite the death of its founder Professor David Collins.

David’s supporters – including family and friends and the Royal Geographic Society - rallied round to fund the project which provides the opportunity to work in Zermatt, and gain invaluable scientific field experience on the mountain. The Project has also become a charity to enable it to attract new sources of funding with donations very much welcomed.

Dr Neil Entwistle, lecturer in Geography, who heads to Zermatt in June with four Salford undergraduates, says he is delighted to have secured the Project’s immediate future.

“As David always stressed, to understand climate change you need records over long periods of time.

“He was uncompromising in his approach to field measurement and this scientific method has been learned by hundreds if not thousands of students over the years.

“The accumulation of data means we can monitor climate change and its effects and become clearer about the overall balance between climate, glacier mass and the meltwater system.”

David began the Zermatt study in 1974 while studying for his PhD and carried it through at the University of Manchester, Oxford University, and as Professor of Glaciology at Salford until his death in 2016. Research of this type is normally conducted by full-time academics, but David pioneered the involvement of undergraduate students who have become the backbone of the team.

Students can apply from anywhere, not just Salford, as undergraduates or postgraduates and for bursaries and scholarships, to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

In 2016, Prof Collins’s final trip, first-year Salford undergraduate Zak D’Amelio won a RGS apprenticeship to go on the field trip.

Neil, who ran the London Marathon to raise funds for the project, adds: "By using our findings here, we can learn more about other parts of the world, such as the Himalayas where meltwater availability is critical for hydropower production, irrigation and water resources development, and where floods have devastating impacts on humanity."