N-ice work by Sunderland glacier expert

Mark Allan at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, where an exhibition has been held following a summer of research across the Alps.
Mark Allan at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, where an exhibition has been held following a summer of research across the Alps.
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A WEARSIDE geographer who has followed in the footsteps of some of the earliest explorers, scientists and artists, has seen his work exhibited at the Royal Geographical Society in ­London.

Mark Allan, a former pupil of St Aidan’s School in Sunderland, led a team of three geographers across the European Alps last summer to examine the effects of climate change on the mountain landscape.

The team explored some of the highest terrain in the Alps. This was one of the eye-watering vistas of the Mont Blanc Massif from Aiguille in France.

The team explored some of the highest terrain in the Alps. This was one of the eye-watering vistas of the Mont Blanc Massif from Aiguille in France.

The work was to further their knowledge of the rate of landslides above and around retreating glaciers; an important, but poorly understood response to climate change.

Some of the measurements were obtained using a specially adapted drone, flying by remote control and mapping the terrain in 3D.

The team are helping to pioneer this innovative technique as a new way of monitoring landscape change. Their new 3D data will then be compared to historical imagery to examine how the mountain landscape has evolved over a much greater timescale.

Mark, a PhD student at Northumbria University, said: “The research was made possible, thanks to a bursary of up to £30,000 from Land Rover in addition the use of a brand new Land Rover Defender 110.

The exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society ... was to highlight some of the work we did ... and give examples of the data collected.

Mark Allan, geographer

“Before the trip, we went down to Land Rover’s own off-road facility in Herefordshire to get experience of driving the Defender over rough terrain. The exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington was to highlight some of the work we did last year and give examples of the data collected.”

After leaving St Aidan’s, Mark spent three years at Northumbria University studying Geography, graduating with first class honours.

He then took his Masters at Sheffield University studying Polar and Alpine Change, during which he spent several weeks in the Svalbard archipelago, high up beyond the Arctic Circle where the sun never set during all the time he was there!

He returned to Northumbria University and began a three-year PhD in October 2013.

Some of the research took place directly on the glaciers.

Some of the research took place directly on the glaciers.

Mark will be heading out to the Alps again this summer to conduct surveys on the slopes above a selection of glaciers, to understand how the landscape has changed over the last year.

Land Rover supported the research and supplied the team with a specially equipped vehicle.

Land Rover supported the research and supplied the team with a specially equipped vehicle.