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Welsh glaciologists to study huge Antarctic lakes

Scientists will drill deep into the ice shelf. Credit: Prifysgol Aberystwyth University

Glaciologists from Aberystwyth University will fly to Antarctica at the beginning of November to study large lakes forming on the surface of ice shelves.

Professor Bryn Hubbard and Dr David Ashmore from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences’ Centre for Glaciology will be working with collaborators from Swansea University on the Larsen C ice shelf.

Larsen C covers an area two and a half times the size of Wales

It's a long, fringing ice shelf in the northwest part of the Weddell Sea, extending along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Professor Hubbard and Dr Ashmore will be using hot water to drill up to 150m down into the 200m deep ice shelf to study the many layers of ice that make up Larsen C.

The ice shelf is significant for scientists trying to understand the effects of climate change on Antarctica.

Two other ice shelves in the area, Larsen A and B, have broken up and disappeared since 1995 and scientists have been trying to understand why.

“Despite its accessibility, this region of Antarctica is surprisingly poorly known on the ground. Dark patches on satellite images appear each summer and these are interpreted as large surface melt ponds, but no one has actually studied them on the ground; to date we don’t even have a photograph of the lakes we believe we will see on Larsen C.

– Professor Bryn Hubbard Aberystwyth University

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Colwyn Bay waterfront to re-open to public

The latest phase of work on Colwyn Bay's waterfront project is to re-open to the public today.

The waterfront will reopen to the public today. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The project cost £6.7 million and included work repairing the damages to the existing sea wall and renewing a section of the promenade. It has been partly funded by the Welsh Government's flood defence grant.

The first phase saw hundreds of tonnes of sand being dropped on the beach. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Waterfront project is a programme of sea defences designed to protect against flooding and damage from the sea.

It has also included safeguarding the railway line, the A55, businesses and homes in Colwyn Bay.

The first phase saw hundreds of tonnes of sand being flushed onto the beach to provide a defence from the sea during storms.

Snowdon found to be taller than originally recorded

Experts have found that Snowdon is a metre taller than originally thought.

The three surveyors have discovered the iconic mountain now stands 1086m.

The height of Snowdon was last measured in the 1960s Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The team spent a night on the summit of Snowdon using high-tech GPS and mapping equipment.

But the Ordnance Survey which is responsible for creating the UK's maps says the height of 1085m is correct.

It says the summit was last measured in the 1960s where the height was measured to a natural rock which has now been buried under a construction.

The team of surveyors spent a night on Snowdon to carry out their work Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

We acknowledge that in very few cases there are enduring manmade features which can complicate our assessment of the natural summit; therefore decisions have to be made on a case by case basis.

Clearly, in this case something has been built on top of the natural rock and that has been measured and rightly shown to be a different height.

In this case Ordnance Survey has decided to preserve the original height of the natural summit of the mountain and retain the value 1085m on our maps.

– Ordnance Survey Spokesperson

Rare fungus found

The Fen Puffball was discovered in Powys. Credit: Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales says it's uncovered a type of rare fungus previously unknown in Wales during a survey of 200 of the country’s most important bog and fen sites.

The detailed surveys of peatlands in Wales often reveal rare and unusual species and it was during one of these the team found the Fen Puffball (or Bovista paludosa).

The National Peatland Survey has been looking at the benefits of good quality peatlands to people, the economy and wildlife.

Peatland is an important habitat for nature, stores millions of gallons of water to help reduce flooding and stores carbon which helps to combat climate change.

Finding this puffball in Mynydd Epynt in Powys was an added bonus as it's the first time this fungus has been found in Wales, it is extremely rare and only five examples have ever been recorded in the UK.

Such is its rarity that that the Fen Puffball is named on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) list as a UK priority conservation species

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Anti-fracking protest gets underway

Protest gets underway at the Senedd Credit: ITV Wales/Nicola Hendy
Environmental groups Friends of the Earth Cymru and Frack Free Wales have organised the event Credit: ITV Wales/Nicola Hendy

An anti-fracking demonstration is taking place outside of the Senedd, as part of co-ordinated anti-fracking protests around the world.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth Cymru and Frack Free Wales are organising the event.

In a statement, a Welsh Government spokesperson said:

"We are committed to ensuring that the economy and people of Wales benefit from energy developments. The evidence currently available is insufficient to determine whether gas from hydrocarbons in Wales can contribute to the future energy mix and provide benefits to the people of Wales. This will only be determined through further exploration and research."

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Anti-fracking demonstration to take place in Cardiff

Fracking is controversial in Wales and across the UK. Credit: PA

An anti-fracking demonstration is to take place outside the Senedd later as part of co-ordinated anti-fracking protests around the world.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth Cymru and Frack Free Wales are organising the event in the Welsh capital, which will get underway from midday.

Researchers launch buoy to measure wave energy

The buoy is loaded on to Swansea University’s research vessel. Credit: Swansea University

Swansea scientists have launched a research buoy to measure the strength of waves four miles off St Govans Head in Pembrokeshire.

The Directional Waverider buoy will measure wave height and direction in an initial year-long project to work out how much energy is stored in the waves off Wales.

The buoy is launched into the sea off St Govans Head. Credit: Swansea University

Data collected will be used to inform decisions about whether it is feasible to convert this energy into renewable electrical power, via off-shore arrays.

Throughout the project duration, the public can also view the live buoy data online, through the Cefas WaveNet website.

“The marine energy industry in Wales is really starting to take off. This research buoy will allow us to refine our oceanographic models of the area, to inform where the best sites are that can be used by technology to harness our wave energy resource.

“This work will also further contribute to The Crown Estate’s recently designated South Pembrokeshire Demonstration zone, as the primary deployment site in Wales for wave energy converters.”

– Dr Ian Masters Principal investigator
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