AGM 2021 and “Computing in cold places: ice cubes, fjords and handwarmers”

Performing surveys with a novel deep-water sonar scanner in Greenland. Image copyright: Dr Mark Neal, 2021.

On Tuesday 26th October at 7pm, we hold our Annual General Meeting for 2021. As part of the meeting, we are pleased to welcome Dr Mark Neal to talk about “Computing in cold places: ice cubes, fjords and hand warmers.” Mark will take a look at using computing to perform surveys with a novel deep-water sonar scanner in Greenland. This will discuss the challenges in performing this work and the lessons learned. 

The meeting with start with a short Annual General Meeting for BCS Mid-Wales Branch, taking about 10 minutes. The talk begins straight after the AGM.

The event is on Zoom and it is free and open to everyone.

AGM Notice

The notice for the AGM is available.


To register for this free online event, please go to


Fieldwork in any environment carries challenges and surprises but working in the extreme cold multiplies the opportunities for mistakes and failures in a number of ways. 

A recent trip to Greenland to perform surveys with a novel deep-water sonar scanner exposed a number of interesting problems and modes of equipment failure. It also revealed that the majority of failures were due to “normal” human error which lead to failures, increased expense and reduced data quality on a number of occasions.

I will describe the conditions that we worked in on the floating ice, transport of equipment and people, the experience of working with complex IT systems and software in that environment and a few of the lessons that I learned. In particular the need for lightweight equipment, robust connectors, robust interfaces (hardware and software), reliable power sources and well established routines are considered.

Speaker Biography

Mark Neal left academia 4 years ago and now runs his small company that specialises in custom building hardware, firmware and software systems for research organisations in academia and industry. 

The company has customers working in a number of fields including precision agriculture, autonomous survey, wild animal tracking, environmental monitoring and agrochemical application.