BE OPEN Science Festival

The Austrian Research Fund (FWF) celebrated it’s 50th anniversary by arranging a Science Festival in the heart of Vienna.

For five days, the Maria-Theresien Platz was populated with white pavilions filled with some of the best scientists Austria has to offer (and, for two and a half days, me). One of these pavilions (ours) was dedicated to glacier and mountain research. It was filled with ancient wood. And speleothems, even more ancient. And screens showing flowing glaciers. And screens showing simulations of glaciers diasppearing not so far into the future. Take all this and an endless stream of curious school children and no less interested grown ups, and you have the ingredients for a VERY busy day and a good nights sleep at the end of it.
We had great fun talking to children and all other visitors about how information of the past climate is recorded in trees and caves. About what the discovery of a tree that grew 6000 years ago can tell us about the climate at the time the poor thing was buried by the advancing glacier and preserved in the ice for thousands of years. About how glaciers form and why they are shrinking.

Everybody was interested and many asked critical questions (good!), and told us how they perceived the changing climate. Overall, a wonderful experience also for us.


Students are learning about how a glacier is forming. Our weather station can be seen in the background.

Many people contributed to our pavilion including Christoph Spötl (curator), Gabriella Koltai, Tim Philipp (all Innsbruck Quaternary Research Group) and Wolfgang Gurgiser, Mathias Dusch and Anna Wirbel (ACINN)

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