Oxygen Isotopes in Speleothems

Oxygen Isotopes in Speleothems

Stalactites and stalagmites (also called speleothems) are found in cave environments across the planet (see Figure 1). They form as water from the surface percolates into the ground and drips into the cave. Speleothems can be extremely...
COP21 by numbers

COP21 by numbers

As world leaders reach a landmark deal aiming to curb global emissions of greenhouse gases, and keep temperature rise below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we take a look at the COP21 vital stats.
Key Facts for Future Climate - COP21

Key Facts for Future Climate – COP21

COP21 – Paris Climate Conference 30th November to 11th December 2015 Key facts for future climate    What is COP21? And who is involved? COP21 has involved two weeks of talks between government officials from around...
Oceans and climate change: ecosystems

Oceans and climate change: ecosystems

As the final part of our oceans and climate change series, this article explores marine ecosystems, looking at primary productivity, microorganisms, and changes in species composition and biodiversity.  Have a look at the previous parts of...
Oceans and climate change: ocean chemistry

Oceans and climate change: ocean chemistry

As part of our oceans and climate change series, this article explores ocean chemistry and the impacts that climate change may have on the marine environment. We focus on ocean acidification and eutrophication. Take a look...
Oceans and climate change: physical processes

Oceans and climate change: physical processes

As part of our oceans and climate change series, this article explores physical ocean processes and the ways that they interact with, and respond to, climate drivers. We examine key issues such as changes in ocean circulation...
Oceans and climate change: Key facts

Oceans and climate change: Key facts

 What is an ocean? The global ocean covers 71% of the planet. While there is one global ocean, it is split into five geographical regions. These are the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific...
Climate Week 2015: Climate Science Challenge

Climate Week 2015: Climate Science Challenge

This year we celebrated Climate Week with a public event at Manchester Museum inviting visitors to take part in our Climate Science Challenge. Over 1,200 visitors joined in our celebrations, and together with researchers and...
Interview: Powering the Top of the World

Interview: Powering the Top of the World

Powering the Top of the World is a new documentary by Christoph Mazur and Chris Emmott, from Imperial College London. It explores energy supply in Nepal, and the innovative solutions to sustainable energy provision in some...
Snail shells provide detailed records of environmental change

Snail shells provide detailed records of environmental change

By Dr Jonathan Lewis and Prof Melanie Leng The shells of molluscs from all over the world – on land, in lakes, and in the ocean – contain very detailed imprints of past climate change....
In brief: the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report

In brief: the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report

Ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse for no action Michel Jarraud – World Meteorological Organization    What is the Synthesis Report? The newly published IPCC Synthesis Report, released on 2nd November, draws...
The greenhouse effect and its role in the Earth’s climate

The greenhouse effect and its role in the Earth’s climate

The Sun bathes the Earth in radiation. Much of this radiation reaches the surface, warming the planet and driving the climate.  The surface then emits heat (as infrared radiation), most of which does not escape...
Understanding past sea-level change

Understanding past sea-level change

Sea-level change is an important consequence of climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic.  Global mean sea level has been rising. For the 20th century, the average rate was 1.7 ± 0.5 mm yr–1 (IPCC AR5), and...
In brief: the UN Climate Summit

In brief: the UN Climate Summit

This week, delegates from the UN met in New York to discuss global climate change and to develop strategies for tackling these issues.  What are the outcomes of their discussions? And what does this mean...
Volcanoes and climate change

Volcanoes and climate change

What happens to the atmosphere when volcanoes erupt? Can volcanic eruptions lead to climate change? In 2010 the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in south Iceland brought air traffic in northern Europe to a standstill for almost...
Can isotopes help define the Anthropocene?

Can isotopes help define the Anthropocene?

By Dr Jonathan Dean, Prof Melanie Leng and Prof Anson Mackay   The Anthropocene is a term that is increasingly being used to refer to the current interval in geological time in which humans have...
Desertification: land degradation under a changing climate

Desertification: land degradation under a changing climate

Today, 17th June, is the World Day to Combat Desertification, with an event being held by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and hosted at the World Bank in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), TerrAfrica and Connect4Climate. The...
Quaternary science in the UK: 50 years of past climate research

Quaternary science in the UK: 50 years of past climate research

2014 is a big year for Quaternary science! In January, the UK Quaternary Research Association (QRA) celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The QRA is a research organisation which focuses...
Mitigating climate change - The IPCC WGIII report

Mitigating climate change – The IPCC WGIII report

What is the IPCC WG III? On 14th April 2014 the IPCC Working Group III (WG III) published their latest report (link) on climate change mitigation. This is the third of three reports from the...
Oxygen isotopes and lakes

Oxygen isotopes and lakes

Lakes occur across the globe and are sensitive to climatic change. Analysing the sediments that have accumulated at the bottom of lakes over time can help us to reconstruct past environmental change. Here, we focus specifically...
Moraines – piles of dirt record glacier fluctuations

Moraines – piles of dirt record glacier fluctuations

What are moraines? And how do they form? Moraines are piles of debris deposited by glaciers. Such landforms can form along the margin of a glacier – at the front or its sides – or...
The Royal Society and National Academy of Sciences - Climate Change: Evidence & Causes

The Royal Society and National Academy of Sciences – Climate Change: Evidence & Causes

“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate. The atmosphere and oceans have...
Researching the belly of Icelandic glaciers

Researching the belly of Icelandic glaciers

Glaciers are some of the best indicators of climate change. Their existence depends on a fine balance between mass accumulation (usually through snowfall) and mass loss (mainly by ablation or melting). Any small increases in...
IPCC special: Future climate phenomena and regional climate change

IPCC special: Future climate phenomena and regional climate change

The latest report of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) combines new and better observations with improved models to provide a clearer and more definite picture of humanity’s influence on...
Antarctic expedition to estimate thinning ice sheets

Antarctic expedition to estimate thinning ice sheets

Antarctica might seem like a desolate and inhabitable continent with little to offer other than perhaps the sight of penguins, but it holds the answers to many scientific questions. Simply put, Antarctica is covered by...
IPCC special: Long-term climate projections

IPCC special: Long-term climate projections

Chapter 12 of the 5th Assessment Report of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) deals with future projections of climate change in the long-term. Long-term in this case means beyond the middle of the 21st century...
Microbes on ice: Climate amplifiers?

Microbes on ice: Climate amplifiers?

Lifeless ice? At first glance, the cryosphere – including all frozen water on Earth – appears to comprise vast, cold expanses devoid of biology. However, even the most remote, hostile and unlikely icy locations in both...
Measuring Greenhouse Gases

Measuring Greenhouse Gases

It is not at all trivial to make precise measurements of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, but exactly this is needed when assessing climate change impacts from human emissions. Only when present concentrations are...
Changing glaciers in Antarctica

Changing glaciers in Antarctica

Glaciers are the ‘canary in the coal mine’. Shrinking glaciers are the world’s most visual, most impressive evidence of globally warming temperatures. This is particularly evident around the Antarctic Peninsula, which is currently warming at...
Bogs, bugs and bryophytes: reconstructing past climate from peatlands

Bogs, bugs and bryophytes: reconstructing past climate from peatlands

Bogs as archives of past climate change Since approximately 12,000 years ago, when the major ice sheets of the last ice age began their slow but relentless decline in the face of rising temperatures, Northern...
Shouldn't climate scientists try harder at communicating their findings?

Shouldn’t climate scientists try harder at communicating their findings?

Public interest in climate change has exploded over the last decade. The increased exposure of public audiences to the scientific discourse, however, is not always straightforward. By the time scientific understanding has migrated to the...
The Anthropocene: our place in Earth's history

The Anthropocene: our place in Earth’s history

The Anthropocene – the concept that the Earth’s surface geological processes are now human-dominated – is often considered to be more or less synonymous with climate change.  Today, however, climate change is only one component – relatively minor,...
Wildfire: recycled sunlight or fuel for climate change?

Wildfire: recycled sunlight or fuel for climate change?

The rainforest is burning in Sumatra, Indonesia. A majestic Meranti tree is close to the fire line. As flames from the surrounding canopy rage closer to this ancient tree, water quickly evaporates from its leaves,...
Extinction: the changing face of the biosphere

Extinction: the changing face of the biosphere

In the Earth’s 4.6 billion year history, over 99% of all the species that have ever existed have become extinct. In the majority of cases, these extinctions are due to competition between species for space,...
Alpine plants and recent climate change

Alpine plants and recent climate change

Alpine plants grow above the altitudinal tree-line in mountains around the world. Because alpine plants grow in areas with low summer and winter temperatures, very low night temperatures, frost, short growing-season, high winds, or extended snow-lie,...
Climate history from lakes

Climate history from lakes

Lakes are distributed widely across the globe, and depending on their location, they can be particularly sensitive to changing climate.  For example, global warming is having a significant impact on lakes in polar and alpine...
Beyond the science: Facing the challenge of climate change

Beyond the science: Facing the challenge of climate change

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, along with global population, poverty alleviation, environmental degradation and global security. The problem is that ‘climate change’ is no longer just a scientific...
Challenged by carbon: rocks and climate change

Challenged by carbon: rocks and climate change

You can’t argue with a rock.  So ideally we would now be on a field trip.  Instead, I offer you a short film made in the field by the Science Museum to accompany a lump...
Cave deposits (speleothems) as archives of environmental change

Cave deposits (speleothems) as archives of environmental change

Speleothems, from the Greek words for cave and deposit, include the familiar descending stalactites, upward-growing stalagmites and more continuous sheets called flowstones.  They grow slowly, at rates of between 1 mm a year to 0.001...

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Trailer for the Thin Ice film.  An affiliated project bringing the inside story of climate science.  This feature length documentary is produced by scientists at Oxford University and Victoria University of Wellington (NZ), and creates an intimate portrait of the global community of researchers racing to understand our planet’s changing climate.