ECOPOTENTIAL @European Researchers’ Night in Spain, Italy and Greece

29th September 2017, Spain, Italy and Greece

Ecopotential scientists could not miss the participation at the European Researchers’ Night, an Europe-wide public event dedicated to popular science and fun learning, that takes place each year on the last Friday in September. In September, research institutions from all over Europe opened their gates to citizens and students and proudly showed their work and research infrastructures. ECOPOTENTIAL has been presented in Pisa (Italy), in Greece (Heraklion and Thessaloniki) and in Granada (Spain) in an array of manners: talks, exhibits, visits of schools.

In Granada, Spain

The group from the University of Granada organised a showcase event for teenagers in which they explained the expected impacts of global change in the Mediterranean area as well as the concept of ecological modelling. The students had the opportunity to manipulate and execute a simplified Agent-Based Model simulating the population dynamics of the pine processionary moth, a species expected to benefit from global change. In the model, they could increase or decrease the average temperature and see how the processionary population was affected by this growth, as well as how the pine on which it feeds would develop under such new conditons. The students were very interested in understanding the population dynamics of the pine processionary moth. They are familiar with the pine processionary because it is very easy to observe it while walking in the countryside near Granada. They showed great participation and interaction with the Agent-Based Model. Furthermore, it was a great example for them to understand how climate change is a real threat in their life. The original model in which this simplified version is based uses Lidar-processed images to define the distribution of the pines on the landscape. Work is on going within the group to use satellite images to detect defoliation caused by this species and thus validate model results.

In Pisa, Italy

In Pisa, students, children and adults visited the CNR-IGG stand in the Researchers’ Night setting inside the CNR Research campus. During the event, CNR researchers explained their activities and their research in a fun way, involving visitors in experiments, performances, educational activities, scientific games and much more. IGG Researchers also presented the main aim of the ECOPOTENTIAL project and how to use the satellite data to study the Earth’s ecosystems, to families, schools, children and people of different ages and cultural backgrounds. The stand has always been crowded!

A new ECOPOTENTIAL video, prepared by IGG Researchers, focused on major ecological challenges related to each Protected Area and on the tools and models used to address them, has been appreciated a lot by adults and kids. The video showed the beauty of the landscapes as well as the research activities conducted and it helps to understand the importance of Protected Areas conservation. You can watch it from the ECOPOTENTIAL website here: (http://www.ecopotential-project.eu/outreach/video.html).

In Greece, Thessaloniki and Heraklion

Researchers of the CERTH and FORTH invited visitors to their stand where the main ECOPOTENTIAL results have been shown. It was a rainy day in Heraklion, nevertheless the exhibition has been a success.

CERTH displayed posters and videos on ECOPOTENTIAL and the researchers gave two presentations, one about the overall project and one about the use of remote sensing for monitoring land cover changes, vegetation conditions and flood events. Visitor categories included pupils, students, adults, parents and scientists. CERTH team members discussed with visitors upon their queries, using as basis the ECOPOTENTIAL communication material, and provided information adapted to the visitors’ familiarity with the Earth Observation domain. Provided information ranged from general remote sensing applications to technical details on the ECOPOTENTIAL project implementation. Visitors have also been invited to browse the ECOOTENTIAL website and they had the chance of exploring the variety of landscapes and ecosystems of the European protected areas.

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