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GEM internships in Australia

GEM internships in Australia

GEM internships in Australia

With partner universities in the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, the United Kingdom and Iceland, the GEM MSc course has a strong European flavor. Recently, however, four of the 2011-2013 GEM students travelled “down under” to spend a trimester at the GEM associate partner, Sydney University in Australia. In addition to following some courses and interacting with other MSc students, the GEM students spent three weeks of their stay to follow an internship.

Two of the students - Oskar Löfgren from Sweden and Anouk van Stokkom from the Netherlands - worked together on a water quality sampling project in Sydney Harbour. The aim of the project was to collect data of different water quality and oceanographic parameters which will be used for several research projects at Sydney University. The data will also be used by Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority (SMCMA) to develop biogeochemical and hydrographical models. The water sampling was carried out by boat at 26 different sample sites in the Sydney Harbour. Two full days per week were necessary to collect different samples, including water for laboratory analysis from both the surface and the bottom, sterile water samples for analysis of bacteria such as enterococci, water transparency estimates made with a secchi disc and water depth with a sounder. A water quality sampling sonde recorded measurements of turbidity, temperature, conductivity, salinity, pH, chlorophyll and oxygen from surface and bottom.

Oskar and Anouk assisted in the lab work in which they filtered water samples. One set of filters was used to measure carbon content, by weighing dried filters before and after burning. The other set was fixated with iodide to prevent decomposition and used for algae species identification.

Oskar and Anouk said that “the project was very rewarding by offering such a wide variety of work, data collection in field, lab work, data management and GIS”. On reflection, they consider that “the internship would benefit from being a bit longer - maybe five or six weeks instead of three”.

We hope to again offer the opportunity to visit Australia this year and we are investigating the possibility of extending the internship period as Oskar and Anouk have suggested.

Photo 1: Map of water salinity at water surface in Sydney Harbour

Photo 2: Anouk and Oskar filtering water samples.

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