Articles

Here you can read articles written by senior scientists and postgraduate researchers. New articles will be continually added. If there is a topic you would like to know more about, contact us. You can also get involved by adding your own comments and questions.

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 concern, but encompasses economics, sociology, geopolitics, national and local politics, law, and health just to name a few. But with so many other problems in the world should we care about climate change? What we are finding is that if we do not produce win-win solutions then climate change will make all our other problems worse.   Human induced Climate Change We have strong evidence that we have been changing...

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 of Hertfordshire Puddingstone that is featured in the Atmosphere Gallery, first opened in 2010.   Thanks to geology, the scientific case for human-induced climate change has recently become significantly more plausible.  New observational science based on cores taken from deep beneath the floor of the oceans offers crucial support and control for the computer-based forecasts of those creating models of future climate change.  Thanks to the work of the late...

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 mm a year.   This growth can persist for many thousands of years before being interrupted.  As with trees, speleothems commonly display annual layers which may be visible when a sample is polished, or recognised through chemical analyses.  Ideally, a sample will accumulate regular, parallel layers,  allowing the investigator to study its growth through time, and see changes in environmental conditions. These speleothems grow in caves within limestone rock.  Typically the...