On Thursday 20th and Friday 21st September the GCSE Geographers took a trip to Winterton-on-Sea as part of their course to carry out some fieldwork. The aim of the day was to study whether Winterton fits the profile of a typical sand-dune system. Students tested two sections of the dunes, one which was relatively untouched and one where a car park had been built. They also used the day to learn about fieldwork techniques in physical Geography.



Zack and Felix went on the trip and tell us what they did, ‘During September, year 11 students visited Winterton-On-Sea, a small town on the Norfolk Coast, conducting physical fieldwork to help with Paper 3 in our Geography GCSE. First and foremost, precautions and safety were talked over to make sure the trip could go without a problem or any incidents. The most important parts were to take care when going over the dunes (due to the growing steepness as you moved from the sea) and to not lose the equipment!

All the data was collected with equipment provided by the amazing Geography department. Each data collection was performed at the point where the gradient of the land began to change from what it previously was (eg from flat to a mild – almost unnoticeable – incline). 

1.     Red and white (ranging) poles — should be with the same stripe pattern — were used along with measuring tape to show the change in gradient between the lands plus the distance it took.

2.    Using a clinometer and the ranging poles, measure the gradient change (angle) by lining the placement up to the corresponding colour on the opposite pole. This also acts as an indication of what dune section you are at (eg the first section of a sand dune is called the embryo dune and moves into mature dunes).

3.    While others are measuring the gradient and distance, someone else should be using a punnet square to calculate the percentage of vegetation along with the variation in species. This could be done by randomly placing the punnet square within the area separated by the poles.

4.    Additional to the punnet square, the height of the vegetation should be measured to get a more accurate idea of which dune segment you have reached.

This process continued from the beach all the way to the treeline of the mature dunes, a section of trees and other large vegetation, resulting in many readings/data due to the constant gradient changes. We stopped recording and marked down the change which we had noticed in the formation of the sand dune as we walked along it.

The process was repeated in a more affected area to show the impact human interaction has on the formation/development of sand dunes, which was the whole concept behind the expedition. The second set of readings started from the car park, since the change from the flat beach to the steep of the carpark was much too dangerous, and retreated back to the fences of the housing by the mature dunes. 

Overall the day was a success, we all collected accurate results which we will be able to use in our GCSE Paper 3 on the Physical Fieldwork questions.’

Dr Barrett commented, ‘It was a very windy day but the students persevered really well. They took up to 40 sets of measures to ensure the data was comprehensive. Well done to all of the Geographers for their hard work and mature approach throughout the trip.’ 

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