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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
  1. Kevin Ashford

High-five or fist-bump 'more hygienic' than handshake

The traditional greeting of a handshake could be responsible for spreading bugs and bacteria, according to a study by Aberystwyth University.

Scientists there carried out research, published today in an American scientific journal, which revealed up to ten times more e-coli can be passed on by a handshake, compared to more modern greetings of a high-five or a fist-bump.

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Let's not shake on it: Hygiene concerns over traditional greeting

Bumping fists may be a more hygienic greeting than shaking hands, experiments at Aberystwyth University have revealed.

Credit: Oli Scarff / PA Wire

Using rubber gloves and a thick layer of E. coli, scientists at the university exchanged handshakes, high-fives and fist-bumps.

Their results revealed the transfer of potentially disease-causing bacteria is highest during a handshake.

This was reduced by more than half in the high-five, with germ transfer a whopping 90% lower when bumping fists.

US President Barack Obama is a fan of the fist-bump Credit: PA Images

"People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. If the general public could be encouraged to fist-bump, there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases."

– Dr Paul Whitworth, Aberystwyth University

Young scientists demonstrate robot building skills

The 'humanoid' robot has been on display in Aberystwyth this weekend. Credit: ITV News

Young scientists in west Wales have been demonstrating their robot building skills to the public this weekend.

The Technocamps Beach Lab in Aberystwyth showcases creations they've made at after-school clubs organised by the local university.

One of their creations is a robot whose body parts can be 'printed' using a 3D printer and is the first full-size adult 'humanoid' in west Wales.

Wales from space - thanks to schoolchildren's camera

These photographs were taken by a camera launched more than 15 miles up by primary school pupils at Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth.

With the help of experts from Aberystwyth University, they build a capsule and launched it from the playground with a helium balloon on Thursday morning.

The camera photographed Cardigan Bay, the Llyn Peninsula and the south west of England, before the balloon burst.

After a journey lasting 2 hours and 51 minutes, it landed in a field near Llandrindod Wells.

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Scientists develop grass which could reduce flooding

The 'supergrass' could help prevent flooding by absorbing more water. Credit: ITV News

Scientists at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) are partly developing a so-called 'supergrass' which could help reduce flooding.

The 'supergrass' will enable soil to retain more water and could help prevent some of the devastating flooding seen at the beginning of this year across Wales and the UK.

The new type of grass is being developed as part of a £2.5m project and could be in fields in five years time.

Aberystwyth students leave as high tides forecast

Tides are expected to peak tomorrow morning and evening. Credit: PA

Aberystwyth University has cancelled all teaching activities today and again on Monday, as more high tides and strong winds are forecast.

The University has warned students that the new band of stormy weather is likely to make the Promenade area a 'hazardous place' this weekend.

Seafront University Residences will close at 4pm today and students have been asked to inform the University of their planned whereabouts over the weekend.

University: New halls will have dedicated Welsh area

Aberystwyth University has said the new, Penglais Farm, residences will include "a dedicated area for Welsh language students, with a particular social area for Welsh speakers."

It said "these are early days" for considering the Pantycelyn building's future, and it will remain as a Welsh medium hall during the 2014/15 academic year.

Aberystwyth University is fully committed to increasing its Welsh medium provision to ensure that our students are able to contribute to maintaining the University's Welsh language community ethos.

The University is investing over £45m at the Penglais Farm residences. This will be located close to the main Hub building and shared by all the Penglais Farm residents.

The new accommodation will be of a very high standard, comprising self-catering flats with between 6 and 8 bedrooms each; they will all have en-suite facilities, kitchen/eating area/lounge and TV.

The University will now begin a business exercise to explore options for the future of Pantycelyn.

Pantycelyn will therefore remain as a Welsh medium hall (as it is currently) during the academic year, 2014/15.

Student representatives have been part of the discussions all along on the nature of the new accommodation and the facilities available to them.

The University will continue its discussions with Welsh medium students, the Pantycelyn Hall committee and UMCA about the Penglais Farm facilities and how to build and develop the Welsh language ethos there.

– Aberystwyth University spokesperson
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