Carbon dioxide: the good and the bad, the right and the wrong

Professor Colin Prentice, AXA Chair in Biosphere and Climate Impacts  “Carbon Dioxide: The Good News” – This is the title of a recent Global Warming Policy Foundation report (Goklany, 2015) that focuses on the benefits of CO2 for people. In a hard-hitting foreword, eminent physicist Freeman Dyson claims that the entire scientific and policy establishment has been suffering from a form of “tribal group-think” that involves … Continue reading Carbon dioxide: the good and the bad, the right and the wrong

Taking the planet’s temperature: How are global temperatures calculated?

Grantham intern Peter Davies (Department of Physics) delves into global temperature records. Statements such as “2014 earth’s warmest year on record” or “No global warming for 18 years 1 month” are conclusions from different atmospheric temperature data sets.  Before assessing which is true it is important to understand how temperatures are measured, how data sets are created and used to calculate global temperatures, and the … Continue reading Taking the planet’s temperature: How are global temperatures calculated?

Where can we best tackle the ocean plastics problem?

Following recent research suggesting that 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic,  Department of Physics undergraduate Peter Sherman investigates how we could clean up our oceans. There is a lot of plastic in the ocean, and the situation is only getting worse. Within the next decade, oceanographers predict that there will be ten times more plastic debris in the ocean than today. Marine plastic is known to have … Continue reading Where can we best tackle the ocean plastics problem?

ferns

How much CO2 can trees take up?

In the fourth post in our sustainability series, SSCP-DTP student Rebecca Thomas considers the role of the biosphere as a carbon sink, and assesses whether planting trees can really offset carbon emissions. The terrestrial biosphere (land based vegetation) is often considered to have benefited from climate change over the last 50 years (an argument that is used by a number of climate skeptics). Trees, after … Continue reading How much CO2 can trees take up?

Why should we act on climate change? A glaciologist’s perspective

by Professor Martin Siegert, Co-director, Grantham Institute See a headline on TV about climate change and it will undoubtedly be accompanied by, among other images, a glacier suddenly calving a colossal iceberg into the sea, or a polar bear clinging helplessly to an ever-diminishing ice floe. Glaciology, the study of snow and ice in all its forms, gets into every living room, hammering in the … Continue reading Why should we act on climate change? A glaciologist’s perspective

Responding to environmental change

This blog post is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change event, organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO). A recent event in London brought together emerging environmental scientists (PhD students and early career researchers) with leaders from business, policy and academia to explore the … Continue reading Responding to environmental change

Resilience to environmental hazards

This blog post by Malcom Graham, an SSCP DTP student, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO). See the full list of blogs in this series here. Environmental hazards are becoming more frequent and severe, … Continue reading Resilience to environmental hazards

Managing environmental change

This blog post by Rebecca Emerton, a Scenario DTP student at University of Reading, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO). See the full list of blogs in this series here. In addition to natural … Continue reading Managing environmental change

Antarctic glacier

How will Antartica’s ice-sheet contribute to 21st century sea level rise?

by Professor Martin Siegert, Co-director, Grantham Institute On 27th October I convened a meeting at the Royal Society of London to discuss the results of a recent 20-year research horizon scanning exercise for Antarctic Science (Kennicutt et al. 2014). Part of the discussion focused on the research needed to better quantify Antarctica’s likely contribution to sea level rise in the coming decades and beyond, as … Continue reading How will Antartica’s ice-sheet contribute to 21st century sea level rise?

Ocean heat uptake – checking the facts

By Dr Flora Whitmarsh, Grantham Institute The recent slowdown in global temperature rise has led to suggestions that global warming has stopped. In fact, the Earth system is still gaining heat, and the slowdown was likely caused by a series of small volcanic eruptions, a downward trend in the solar cycle, and increased heat uptake of the ocean. Writing in the Telegraph, Christopher Booker claims … Continue reading Ocean heat uptake – checking the facts