Schools’ climate change research on Peak District moors

Hundreds of secondary school students from across the region will conduct climate change research on the Peak District and Pennine moors from March 9-19, 2012. In the fifth annual Moorland Indicators of Climate Change Initiative (MICCI) as part of National Science and Engineering Week.

The 11-18 year-olds from 12 schools, mainly in urban areas surrounding the national park, will be conducting practical experiments to investigate the impact of climate change and the effects of human activities on the sensitive moorland environment.

Co-ordinator Chris Robinson, of the Peak District National Park Authority’s learning and discovery team, explained: “This is an innovative project involving young people from across the South Pennines in investigating peat moorlands’ potential to help tackle climate change.

“Healthy peat moorlands could retain more carbon than all the forests in the UK and France combined. But centuries of human activities have damaged the peat through pollution, wildfires and drainage which led to severe loss of vegetation and erosion.

“Each school is given a moorland site to investigate and collectively they cover most of the upland areas of the Peak District National Park including Staffordshire, Bleaklow, Derwent and Beeley near Bakewell.”

The students’ research will help the Moors for the Future Partnership, which is now carrying out large-scale restoration through regenerating vegetation such as cotton-grass and cloudberry. The students’ findings in the field will be collated and analysed using handheld sensors and GPS technology.

Over the past five years the MICCI project has spread to other national parks across the UK including Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms in Scotland, Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales and Northumberland, the North York Moors, Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks in England.

New this year is a partnership with the Exmoor Mires project and South West Water and continuing to support the project for the second year is the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network which is helping fund the project and supplying its new climate change survey pack to MICCI schools.

The field trips will be supported by the national park’s Learning and Discovery Team and Rangers, Moors for the Future Partnership, the Moorland Discovery Centre, Longdendale Environmental Centre and the Eastern Moors Partnership.