intro image to Malin Kylander's blogg, with her image, africa's map and som carton animals

By reading the six introductory questions and trying out some of the suggested activities children get a background understanding of climate and climate research.
They can then follow me on my journey to southern Africa this May where I will collect valuable samples that I use to reconstruct how climate has changed in the past.
By studying the past we get a better understanding of Earth’s complex climate system and how it will change in the future.

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24 May | Travel-day

Today was a travel-day for us. Before we left St Lucia we did however make a short stop at the local market.

Street with fruit stand

On arrival to our accommodation we repacked our samples in preparation for the trip back to Sweden The dog that lived in the house were we were staying took a break from chasing monkeys and kept a good look on what we were doing.

two people outside a house
Dog laying on matt outside a door

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23 May | On the Game Reserve

Kudus along a road

Today was one of our more exciting days. We went iSimangaliso Wetland Park to look at a wetland called Mfabeni. Mfabeni is unique because it is very old with the bottom being 45,000 years old. Going to this place was extra special because it is on a reserve and filled with many of the African animals we think of, all roaming freely. As researchers we were given special permission to get out of the car and have a look. We were pretty nervous since there could be dangerous animals like hippopotamus waiting for us while we were walking. On the way into the park we saw kudu, which are the second largest antelope type here. You can tell how old they are by the numbers of curves the horns have. We saw zebras as well.

zebras in the grass

When we climbed out of the car we saw no animals and the ground was pretty dry. To help us walk through the high grass we used the hippo paths that were full of fresh prints.We walked to the middle of the wetland and had a look at the sediment.

Mbafeni is very beautiful and we really hope that we get to work on the sediments here.

We made it safely back to the car without running into any big animals but we did see leopard tracks on the way. Leopards are very shy though and we didn’t actually get to see one. We decided to drive further into the park and just as we pulled away we saw a rhinoceros. He was very impressive but I was glad to not have to meet him on foot!

rhinoceros crossing road

After lunch we drove into town and hopped on a tour boat so that we could see some of the wildlife that lives in the lake. Over 1000 hippopotamus live in this lake along with sharks, crocodiles and many different birds. It didn’t take long before we ran into some hippos!

rhinoceros in pond

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22 May | St Lucia

inside a car, watching people walk along the road

I am writing this by candlelight as for the second day in a row the electricity has been shut off in the afternoon. They do this to save energy since there is not enough for everyone.

Today we packed up our things and started on our drive to the coast and a town called St Lucia. Along the roads and the highways, people are walking, even small children. We also saw many, many fields of sugarcane, which is used to make sugar.

We also saw row after row of trees planed to make wood. They only plant one kind of tree at a time and they are not even trees found here normally but in Australia.

sugarcane field
rows of trees

The sign that welcomed us as we came to this town warned us that there are hippopotamus around, especially at night. Hippos can be very dangerous and people should not be walking around at night. At the hotel we found out they even sometimes come to the pool.

sign beware of hippos at night
people hiking

After lunch we went and looked at another wetland. As you can see below it looks very different from the one we went to yesterday! It is called a swamp and it has high trees and other plants since it is so much wetter and warmer here
than at Dartmoor Vlei. Again, we tested to see how the sediment looks but we couldn’t get very far since the plants are so thick and close together.

We tried to get up a bit higher so we could see how big the wetland was. On the way we met a dung beetle and a grasshopper that was very cleverly hidden.

people looking onwards and pointing
dung beetle

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21 May | The Midlands

view of front side of house

Our new accommodation turned out to be a pleasant surprise;
besides really comfortable beds we also now have hot water, electricity, and toilets!

Facilities we were not spoiled with up in Lesotho.


people on a hill
wetland in the Kerkloof Nature Reserve.

Today we went out on more field work. This time to Dartmoor Vlei, a wetland in the Kerkloof Nature Reserve. On the photo below we are standing on a hill and looking out over the wetland. It is winter and very dry here just now. That is why the plants on the wetland are brown, but it is still wet in the middle of the wetland. We know because we got wet feet!

Fieldwork on wetland in the Kerkloof Nature Reserve.

We crossed the wetland and Trevor (see picture) took up sediment so that we could see what it looked like. Peat, that is sediment made of plant remains, started growing here 12,000 years ago and is found 145 cm down from the surface we were standing on. While we were at Dartmoor Vlei we even took some soil samples from the surrounding hills.

On our way back to the car we got company of some cows!   

people walking on field with some cows after

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20 May | On the Road Again

Today it was time to leave Lesotho and the mountains. We will miss the beautiful view from our rooms here.

view of mountains with red sky

On the way down we got a good look at the kind of rocks that make up the area. These are called basalts and they were formed by volcanic explosions 180 million years ago.


We even got to see some baboons as we drove down the mountain.

At lunch we met our colleagues Jemma Finch and Trevor Hill from the University of KwaZulu-Natal who are both experts on pollen. We said goodbye to Stefan and thanked him for all his help. We are now settled in a place called Hilton, which is halfway between the mountains and the coast. Tomorrow it is off to a new wetland!


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19 May | More Sampling


Today we spent the morning gathering more sediment samples.
In the afternoon we got some time to have a look at the village where we are staying.
We have even made a few friends.

The people live in round stone houses, which they need with the strong winds up here.

round stone houses
Boy wear blanket like a coat

It is cold and many of the villagers wear coats that are like big blankets to stay warm like this little boy.

Tomorrow we will drive back down the mountain on this winding road to South Africa.


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18 May | Time for Fieldwork

Fieldwork with russian corer

Today we went to a large wetland. There we used a Russian corer (see picture) to collect peat which is sediment made of a lot of plant materials. The wetland is surrounded by mountains and we even saw sheep, horses, birds and “ice rats”.

ice rat outside its hole
Caroline, Malin and Jenny

After a good day of sampling we will go and have some supper! Good night from Jenny, Caroline and Malin!


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17 May | We’re Finally Here!

Malin, Caroline and Jenny on airplane

After 13 hours of flying we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The trip went just fine with no problems.
Waiting for us at the airport was our colleague Stefan Grab from the local University of Witwatersrand.

The plan for the day was to drive to the high mountain kingdom of Lesotho, which would take the whole day. The countryside for the first few hours of the drive was very open and very dry. Slowly we started seeing more and more mountains.

Mountain i Lesotho

After many hours driving we came to an area with many hills and villages where people live.

area with many hills and villages

Finally, 7 hours later, we reached the border of South Africa where they checked our passports. The road was very bad and we needed a truck to get us over the rocks and through the streams.

Lesotho border crossing

We drove up, up, up the mountain through the clouds. We were scared to look over the edge because it was so steep. Eventually, we got to the top at about 2800 m above sea level. Here the air is very thin and you can feel a bit sick because there is less oxygen in the air. When we arrived, we went to the Lesotho border crossing to get our passports checked.

clods in valey

Now we are making some spaghetti for supper and will go to bed early since we are tired from our trip. We are living in a little village on top of the mountain and the wind is shaking the house. There is only electricity from a generator. They will soon turn it off. When that happens it is so dark you cannot even see your hand in front of your face but you can see the stars clearly above you.

house looking like a warehouse

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Many thanks to Mark Johnson, Björn Gunnarson, Elin Norström, Peter Langdon, Anna Plikk, Jenny Sjöström, Minna Väliranta and Ewa Lind for their photo contributions.

The fieldwork is partly funded by The Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (