Climate Change and the Little Ice Age

Happy Friday everyone.

Here is a video from a great YouTube channel called Crash Course which attempts to teach various subjects through 10 to 15 minute episodes. The courses range from World and American History to Ecology and Chemistry. The latest episode of World History examines the interaction between climate change and human social orders during the Little Ice Age, which was period of global cooling from about 1350 to about 1850. Specifically the episode focuses on the linkages between climate instability and political instability in the 17th century.

It is interesting to see the contribution of changing climate and increased social unrest in the Little Ice Age as it is relevant to us today as we experience climate change. It is not all doom and gloom, as the Little Ice Age influenced agricultural innovations illustrates that it is possible to adapt to changing climates.

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Rainy days on Mars?

Understanding the past water budget of Mars has important implications for our understanding of geomorphologic features (and the potential development of life) elsewhere in our solar system. The discovery of valley networks by the Mariner 9 Mission to Mars sparked a long-lived debate over the amount and importance of water at or near the Martian surface. They are the most common drainage feature on Mars and are often cited as evidence for a warm wet early climate on Mars. However early interpretations of surface features suggested surface runoff from precipitation was an unlikely cause for the formation of the Martian valley networks. The relatively low number of valley networks, and their poorly developed drainage systems, suggested that groundwater was a more appropriate explanation than surface runoff. New evidence presented in a 2003 paper by Hynek and Phillips indicated that Martian valley systems are far more complex than first assumed – and that precipitation and surface runoff may have substantially contributed to the sculpting of the Martian landscape.

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Oxfam Ireland and the MDP experience

There comes a time in everyone’s life where you take a deep breath and pause to think. You’re stuck – and I mean STUCK with seemingly no option out – with the unnerving question of whether the path you have chosen for yourself has been an entirely wrong one; even worse, you get that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that you should have listened to your parents and stayed at home. During the lull in our Masters course timetable following the Christmas period (the so-called “January hangover”), I felt the same way.

The NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) placement module in the second semester of our Masters course turned that feeling completely on its head.

As a reference point, let me introduce you to the Masters in Development Practice (locally referred to as the MDP), offered jointly by Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin – taking the ‘practitioner’ on a roller-coaster of a course-ride that explores a variety of development issues such as climate change, sustainable development and gender, through the holistic lenses of economic policy, academic and empirical research and social justice. The course runs over two years and there are three periods built into the schedule where internships are facilitated with NGOs, INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organisations) and other aid/donor organisations. The placement opportunity with development organisations is in fact what attracts a lot of us to this unique Masters programme. Continue reading “Oxfam Ireland and the MDP experience”

Geography Idol (Fieldtrip diary)

Fig. 1: The fieldtrip was destined for the King’s River close to the village of Hollywood (Co. Wicklow) http//

‘You’re going to Hollywood Baby’

Wrapped up and ready to brace the cold February winds the challengers, with their shovels and oranges in hand, set off to try-out for the 2014 Geomorphology fieldtrip.

Fig. 2: The team arriving at Kings River & assessing the recently flooded floodplain.

Most of us newbie physical geographers were a little apprehensive about the trip – what was lateral accretion again, would we spot the terrace and how do we calculate the stream power – all this fluvial talk left some of us feeling a touch sea sick.

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