Mobility Grant: Subglacial systems and ice flow dynamics

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Inigo Irarrazaval has obtained a Doc-Mobility grant for his project « Subglacial systems and ice flow dynamics induced by glacial lakes in Exploradores glacier, Patagonia » which he started last October. He shares here his experience.

© Francisco Croxatto

Can you say a word about the genesis of your Doc.Mobility project ?

From relatively small alpine glaciers, I switched to the Patagonian Ice Fields. The idea came from the desire to use my early doctoral knowledge to expand my expertise to a different setting. And to complete my thesis with skills that were difficult to develop at UNIL. Before I started my doctorate in mobility, I obtained a one-month grant (Mobility2018 CLS-HSG, Centro Latinoamericano-Suizo of the University of St. Gallen) to conduct a pilot study. The success of this pilot study allowed me to clearly define what objectives I could achieve in one year with Doc.Mobility. The Aysén University team I had met immediately showed interest and supported my project.

What difficulties have you overcome ?

Unlike the Alps, there are still few studies in Patagonia. One of the challenges was to collect and compile the few available observational data. Fieldwork in a remote area where weather forecasts are not accurate poses an additional challenge! Especially for piloting the drone, where windless and dry weather conditions are needed….

What do you think this experience will bring you ?

New skills in glaciology of course (such as photogrammetry, mass balance). Being fully in charge of a project, from proposal to implementation, is also a great experience.

Advice for future PhD students in mobility ?

Plan well ahead and have a plan B and C ready. And try to meet face-to-face with the supervisor abroad before establishing a collaboration.

So how do you see the next step after Doc. Mobility ?

So many questions about glaciers remain unanswered! Research in Patagonia is expanding and I would like to continue my research there as a post-doctoral fellow, based in Chile, Switzerland or elsewhere.


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