Physical Geography and Meteorology Laboratories
Staff and students use our Advanced Physical and Meteorological Laboratories for teaching, supervised practicals, dissertation work and research activities.
Advanced Physical Laboratory
- Specialist analytical equipment, including a Malvern MS3000 laser particle size analyser, which is used in physical geography, geology and biology studies
- Atomic absorption spectrophotometer and FT-IR spectrometer - a technique for analysing materials against a database of known materials to identify them. This equipment is currently being used to identify the source of micro-plastics found on beaches and in the sea
- Laboratory equipment for analysis and preparation, such as a fume hood, microscopes, furnaces and ovens
- Model simulation facilities including a rainfall simulator, to model rain-splash erosion, and a flume with a 2-metre standard tilting flow channel to model river and other hydrological processes
- Two automatic weather stations (Campbell Scientific), in operation on the roof since 1995, providing meteorological data
- Older UK meteorological data stored in hard copy form
- Specialist PCs supporting unique software
Dr Linley Hastewell provides a sneak peak of some of the equipment within our Advanced Physical and Meteorological Laboratories.
This area of the lab is the more analytical side of the laboratory where students have access to a wide range of different pieces of equipment. What the flume allows us to do is to reproduce those natural conditions and alter them as well.
We can then look at how sediment moves in our manufactured, altered river state compared to that in the field. We also have a range of laser scanners as well. Now, these are used to document changes in the environment. So we've used these on Kilimanjaro, also in Arctic Finland as well, looking at snowmelt. And we can tie that imagery that we get from the laser scanner in with drone footage as well to get a much more complete understanding of how the environment is changing.
We've also got a piece of equipment that the students tend to use when looking at plastic pollution. We have a number of students that go out into the field, take samples, carry out beach surveys. The students are able to analyse those plastic particles and get an idea of not only what the plastic is, but also potentially where it might have come from.
Now, that's really important from a geographical and an environmental context, because it allows the student to not only get an understanding of what the particle is and what the issue is and the extent of that problem. But it also provides opportunities for them to think about the bigger picture and start thinking about how we can address that problem.
And that is a really important quality to take into a competitive workforce.