Fairbrother Lecture

I’m very excited to be able to reveal that I’ve been asked to give Reading University’s Fairbrother Lecture for 2016.

Named after Jack Fairbrother, who in 1929 became the first student to be awarded a PhD from the University, the Fairbrother Lecture is an annual event at which a current, or recent, Reading doctoral researcher will present their work to a wider audience.

A wider audience means that it should be accessible to everyone so please do come along to hear about my work as well as some more general information about the polar regions.

It’s free but ticketed: more information is available here.

Wednesday 4 May, 19.00, Henley Business School, Whiteknights, University of Reading

Fairbrother 2016 photo


The official announcement:

“The Graduate School is pleased to announce that Sammie Buzzard, a final year doctoral researcher from the Department of Meteorology, will give the Fairbrother Lecture in 2016. In this lecture, Sammie will discuss some of the key issues around global warming and climate change; in particular, the collapse of ice shelves in Antarctica. Sammie’s doctoral research aims to help us better predict the speed and rate at which these ice shelves – one twice the size of Wales – will continue to melt and she will explain the wider impact of this occurrence. Sammie will also highlight some of the challenges of researching one of the most inhospitable places on earth. 

Sammie Buzzard holds a Natural Environment Research Council studentship and had previously been a finalist in the Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis Competition. 

In addition to her studies, in 2015 Sammie completed a Research Council Policy Internship at the Government Office for Science. 

If you wish to attend this lecture, please book your place using the online booking form: http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/about-event-register.aspx


‘The Easiest Rose Ever’ Cutter Review

8/10- Nice and simple but a little overpriced for what it is.
£5.60 Cake Craft World

I got this little gadget at the Cake and Bake show 2015, mostly because they let you try it out first. You can get it from Cake Craft World who had the stand online for just over a fiver, as well as from other online retailers.

I was sold on the ease of use and just how pretty the roses looked but I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to reproduce it at home with my own rolling pin/ no fancy foam mat like the had at the show. However I was pleasantly surprised.


Instead of buying the whole expensive kit they were flogging at the show I made my own glue by mixing a little of the fondant with water, made a soft mat out of a tea towel and cling film and used a sieve and cornflour to keep things dry.

Once I’d put together my own replica of the kit needed (see caption above) I was ready to go. The cutting was straight forward but the shaping with a rolling pin was less easy. You do need something a bit more foam like than a tea towel and a wooden rolling pin is no good as it leaves a pattern, you do need a plastic one or something else round and smooth.

The rolling however was just as easy as advertised and soon I had plenty of roses of various sizes ready to go:

Overall I’d say the £20 kit they sell (with foam mat, rolling pin etc.) is very overpriced but the cutter on its own isn’t too steep and it certainly works. the roses are pretty effective and looking at the design on the website I’d certainly have them on my wedding cake…

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year and thank you to everyone who has followed or read this blog in 2015! Here’s the Toblerone cheesecake* we celebrated with.

I hope to keep posting plenty next year, but I suspect the thesis may get in the way a little. However, once that is done there are some exciting adventures including hopefully some fieldwork in the Bay  of Bengal to tell you about so watch this space…


*It’s really easy, just add 1/2 a melted toblerone per 200g of cream cheese in your standard cheesecake recipe. Let it cool until it’s just starting to get solid before adding!

NERC ATSC Fieldwork Training Part 3- ICE!!

Having spent time getting excited by the local flora and fauna came the day I was most looking forward to- the ice! Course tutor Ed had shipped up lots of radar and GPS equipment to Ny Alesund before our arrival so our first job was to work out how to distribute it all among us to carry up to Midrelovenbreen, the glacier we were going to be working on.

Once we were all loaded up we walked out to the glacier and split into teams on of which used GPS to plot out a path up the glacier, then they were followed by the team with the ground penetrating radar. The radar is on a sledge that would normally be pulled by a skidoo but Ed had decided that as he had a handy supply of PhD students he could use us.


Team sledge dog pulling the radar equipment along the glacier (twice as someone forgot to turn it on the first time…)

We were able to attach some show chains to our boots that allowed us to walk on the glacier without falling all over the place. The path up the glacier was marked out initially by piles of rocks by the GPS team, and then spare team members as the surface of the glacier became far less rock covered the further up we got. 20 years of education to get to pretend to be a rock…



We stopped at the top of the glacier for lunch and a quick sunbathe.


After lunch at the top of the glacier we were shown a melt river that in some places was completely hidden by a layer of snow and ice over the top- a reminder that even a glacier that feels very safe can have hidden surprises.


Once we were back to Ny Alesund a few of us still had some excess energy so decided to go for a hike up towards the atmospheric research laboratory on a hill near to the town. This was our first time out on our own without a course leader so we were hopeful for no bears. Due to the measurements they’re taking  at the lab we couldn’t get too close but we still managed to get high enough to get some excellent views of Ny Alesund even if it was much more of a climb than a hike. The decision to go back down the shale front tested my balancing skills to their maximum, although little did I know that we were being checked up on through the base telescope and probably providing quite a lot of entertainment into the bargain.


A fairy steep and chilly climb up…


But worth it for excellent views of Ny Alseund and this glacier behind the mountain.

Once back at the base we had a chance to look at our biological samples and review Ed’s images from the radar.

The next day it was sadly time to head back to Longyearbyen but this was made slightly more bearable through it being via a stunning flight over the ice caps.

Our final meal of the trip provided an opportunity to finally meet a bear, thankfully our rifle training wasn’t necessary.