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Natalie Miedema

Senior Tutor

About Natalie

Class field trips and inquisitive students are just a few of the highlights of the job for senior tutor and first-year mentor Natalie Miedema.

Natalie has been in the position of Senior Tutor for the papers ERTH103 and 104 for three years and she finds that every year she learns more about Earth & Ocean Sciences from the questions brought to her by students.

As the First Year Mentor for Earth & Ocean Sciences, Natalie is available by appointment to talk about anything a student may be having trouble with or need advice on, such as what to study next year and which papers work well together. If she can’t answer the question, she will give the student the tools to find their own answer or point them in the right direction.

A former Morrinsville College student, Natalie loved physical geography at school and always wanted to work in the science. She began a Bachelor of Science (Technology) in 2004, yet graduated with BSc, as she decided to forego the last work experience placement and start her Master of Science early, in 2007.

Her masters research was supervised by Associate Professor Chris Hendy and Dr Megan Balks and looked at non-anthropogenic sources of CO2 in the Waitomo Caves. She started by exploring PCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) data collected from within the Glowworm Cave over a 10 year period. Normally the PCO2 of the cave air increases during the day whilst visitors frequent the cave, and then overnight the cave air PCO2 decreases to background levels (~500 ppm). It was identified that the stream was a potential ‘driver’ of this anomalous ‘high PCO2’ pattern and so instruments to continuously measure the stream PCO2 within the cave, were installed. The resulting data showed that during storm events, when stream discharge increased, the stream PCO2 increased to levels that exceeded cave air PCO2, creating a reverse gradient. As a result CO2 then moved out of the stream and into the cave air, contributing to the higher measurements of cave air PCO2. Using this knowledge Natalie was able to explain many of the anomalies in the 10-year dataset, and was able to conclude that during storm events the stream becomes an important contributor of CO2 within the Waitomo Glowworm Cave.