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Climate change study survives death of Professor

Friday 11 May 2018

FOUR students will take part in one of Europe’s longest-running climate change studies this summer.

The Alpine Glacier Project, which measures mountain meltwater quality and quantity, enters its 44th summer despite the tragic death of its founder Professor David Collins, DSc.

David’s family and friends and the Royal Geographic Society rallied round to continue his legacy  and provide future opportunities for undergraduates to work in the high Alps to gain invaluable scientific field experience on the mountain. The Project has also become a charity to enable it to attract new sources of funding with donations very much welcomed.


Dr Neil Entwistle, lecturer in Geography, who heads to Zermatt in June with four Salford undergraduates, said he was delighted to have secured the project’s immediate future.“

"As David always stressed, to understand climate change you need records over long periods of time. 

“He was uncompromising in his approach to field measurement and this scientific method has been learned by hundreds if not thousands of students over the years.

“The accumulation of data means we can monitor climate change and its effects and become clearer about the overall balance between climate, glacier mass and the meltwater system.”

Pioneering research learning

David Collins began the Zermatt study in 1974 while studying for his PhD and carried it through at the University of Manchester, Oxford University, and as Professor of Glaciology at Salford until his death in 2016. Research of this type is normally conducted by full-time academics, but David pioneered the involvement of undergraduate students who have become the backbone of the team.

Students can apply from anywhere, not just Salford's Geography courses, as under or postgraduates and for bursaries and scholarships, to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

In 2016, Prof Collins’s final trip, first-year Salford undergraduate Zak D’Amelio won a RGS apprenticeship to go on the field trip.

Added Neil, who ran the London Marathon to raise funds for the project: "By using our findings here, we can learn more about other parts of the world, such as the Himalayas where meltwater availability is critical for hydropower production, irrigation and water resources development, and where floods have devastating impacts on humanity."

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895