Science on Tap outreach event

A brilliant public outreach event called “Science on Tap” was hosted by Chinese Academy of Science, Institute of Soil Science, in the stunning location of Taicheng Library, inside the Old City Walls, in Nanjing, China on the 24th April 2018. Science on Tap is a China-wide campaign led by UK Research and Innovation, showcasing excellence in collaborative research between China and the UK. This Science on Tap event was titled “The Critical Zone, the Earth’s sensitive skin: How human activity is transforming our soil, water and air.” The aim of the event was to communicate the idea of the Earth Critical Zone to local scientists and to highlight a couple of areas of research that are being investigated by our joint research programme.

Prof. Steven Banwart opened the science discussions with an introduction to the idea of the Earth’s Critical Zone and the benefits of working collaboratively in this way towards solving global challenges of soil and water security.  This lead on-to two more in-depth science talks. The first was by Prof. Yongguan Zhu of the Institute of Urban Environment, CAS, discussing the ways to manage the Critical Zone to help make resilient cities and how the Critical Zone approach offers the opportunity to address urban biogeochemistry holistically. The second talk given by Prof. Susan Waldron, of the University of Glasgow, included some great visuals to help explain the role of rivers in the Carbon cycle and the ‘magic’ that the karst system adds. A live experiment preformed during her talk showed how the carbon dioxide in a person’s breath reacts with lime water to form carbonic acid, indicated by a change in the water colour from pink to clear. Susan’s large inflatable globe, marked up with the spatial location and extent of all the global karst systems, took pride of place in the Group photo on the wall. Both talks were followed by many questions and discussions from the floor.

 Alongside a great turn out of local young scientists the event was attended well by local media companies including Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp who filmed interviews and the talks. News articles were also released after the event from the attending journalists and there was a large coverage on social media outlets.

The event was organised by UKRI Beijing office alongside the State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Leeds, UK. Financial support for the event was provided the University of Glasgow and UKRI Beijing. The event was opened by local host Prof. Ganlin Zhang.

Written by Sarah Dennis, University of Leeds.