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© Anouk Volery, All rights reserved

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Participation in 2023 Patagonia Icefield Research Program

Anouk Volery


Université de Fribourg

Lay summary

Description of the programme

The PIRP is a two-weeks summer school organized by Camilo Rada with the University of Magallanes (UMAG) in Punta Arenas, Chile. It took place near Grey Glacier, in the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia. The program revolved around three axes: 1) we learned about logistical prerequisites and safety behaviors to live and work in extreme environments, with a focus on leave-no-trace practices 2) we were taught about measurements techniques for research in glaciated environments and trained these techniques in individual research projects 3) we shared insights with the community of Puerto Natales during an outreach event.

How did you benefit from the programme?

The PIRP offered invaluable insights into the requirements for conducting research in extreme environments – scientifically, logistically, safety-wise. We were familiarized with a large variety of glaciological and geomorphological instruments and were able to test them directly in the field: this truly inspires the adoption of multi-faceted approaches for future research! Also, I now understand the extensive logistical efforts necessary for a successful fieldwork campaign and the potential to minimize its impact on the surrounding environment. Moreover, I acquired hands-on practice and technical skills while leading my individual project on Grey Glacier. Despite working on individual projects, we were always encouraged to discuss and help each other. This created such a stimulating atmosphere and brough novel ideas and inspirations for collaborative research! It also created an amazing sense of community and set a great example for future experiences on the field.

What were the highlights of the training?

The highlight of the program was the complete immersion in the breath-taking and extreme nature of Patagonia. The training and discussions were always held in the field, which helped to link theoretical concepts to visible features in the glaciated environment. It also trained our eyes to read the landscapes around us more skilfully and to find clues to reconstruct past and present processes. During our explorations of the surroundings, the experts kept suggesting ideas for possible research questions and projects, which really opened the mind to all the research possibilities. This immersion in Patagonia created an atmosphere, in which we could feel everyone working as a group and sharing curiosity and love for science!

Would you recommend the programme to other students?

I would 100% recommend the PIRP to master students or PhDs who are interested in pursuing a research career. The PIRP will make you a better researcher and a better team-member on fieldwork. It will strengthen your knowledge and practice of glaciological and geomorphological measurement techniques and will open your mind to new tools and perspectives. It will give you clues on how to plan your fieldwork in ways that are sustainable and respectful towards the environment, as well as for the community who lives and work in the studied region. But be prepared to face the changing weather of Patagonia!


Regional focus High-altitude
Location Grey Glacier, Patagonia, Chile
Funded amount 1,500 CHF
Project dates 10th November 2023 – 26th November 2023
Category Field and Summer Schools
glaciology, icefields