Hi. My name is Mark Brandon and I am Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science and member of the Science Faculty.
At heart, I am a research scientist and have spent my entire career studying the polar oceans around Antarctica and the Arctic. You can see the sorts of science I have published listed at the OU's Open Resarch Online, and on ResearcherID.
But of course a huge and exciting part of my job is creating teaching materials on environmental science for the University. You can see the courses I have written books for on my faculty home page, but you can sample a couple of chapters of Environment: Journeys through a Changing World in the LearningSpace.
I have also been working with the Open Broadcasting Unit on various TV series such as Coast and my favourite to date – Are We Changing Planet Earth? That was a pretty serious couple of programmes narrated by Sir David Attenborough about the state of the planet – and it won a lot of awards.
At the moment I am working on a really great project that combines both environmental science education and public outreach. The BBC Natural History Unit and Open University are working on a series called Frozen Planet , and allied to the series I am working on a Science Short Course about the science of the polar regions.
And that is the reason I am off to the Cold Coast or Svalbard.
Svalbard is a small archipelago on the edge of the Arctic Ocean and I will be up there for a week working alongside a BBC Frozen Planet film crew.
It seems a bit strange to be heading into the cold just as spring is arriving in Britain after our worst winter for many years, and as I am going so far north it is going to be pretty cold. Looking at the weather forecast for the week, when I land it is going to be below -10C.
That is nothing new to me as I have done a lot of polar fieldwork and wrote a blog on one recent trip for Open2. On that trip I started my blog with an entry called “heading for the global warming front line”. Over the last couple of weeks when I have told my friends I am heading north to do some climate related work some have been surprised.
"I thought global warming was over now – isn’t the world cooling?"
It may have been cold in northern Europe and North America but globally – so far 2010 is the third warmest year since 1880. There are a bunch of graphs and plots shwoing the warming on the NASA site.
Graphic showing January-February 2010 mean surface temperature & anomaly
If you look at part of the Arctic I am going to, it is in the warmest region on the plot. It is still the front line, and over the next couple of weeks I will be writing on this blog about what I find in the Arctic and the people I meet there.
Until the next entry...