Former student and British Antarctic Survey manager talks to Richmond School pupils

Dr Thomas Barningham and sixth form students.

More than 350 geography and biology students at Richmond School and Sixth Form College learnt about the pressing global problems created by climate change from a leading expert in the field of earth science.

Former student Dr Thomas Barningham is a project manager for the British Antarctic Survey and leads the Halley Automation Project which enables continuous monitoring of the ozone hole over Antarctica.

Thomas spoke  about the Halley Research Station, where he is due to return for four months in November.

The station is an internationally important platform for global earth, atmospheric and space weather observation in a climate-sensitive zone.

Built on a floating ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, Halley VI is the world’s first re-locatable research facility, that provides scientists with state-of-the-art laboratories and living accommodation, enabling them to study major international risks from climate change and sea-level rise to space weather and the ozone hole – first discovered at Halley in 1985.

Thomas said: “It’s an honour to come back to the school I grew up in as key-note speaker.

“I remember sitting where the current students are now and being challenged and inspired by what the staff were teaching.

“I hope I can now pay the school back and do the same for the current cohort of students.

“Having an understanding of Environmental and Earth Sciences is critical for addressing the major challenges that we as a society face today.

“Not only are these students the ones that will have to face these challenges head on in their lifetime, but they’re also the ones that will solve and address them.”

Will Mawer, a year 12 student, said: “The talk about the British Antarctic Survey was fascinating, demonstrating the wide variety of interesting career paths that can be taken with further education in geography and science.

“It really inspired me to take my knowledge to a further level, and I may someday go to Antarctica myself, if I get the chance.”

Taryn Hodgson, a Year 13 student, added: “The development of the Halley Research Base over time was really interesting to see, I was amazed at the wide variety of professions needed for operations such as moving the whole base over a large distances to avoid dangerous cracks in the ice shelf.”