Big oceans, big IT: Modelling plastic pollution in the ocean

Department of Physics undergraduate Thomas Stokes reflects on his recent research placement at the Grantham Institute. Approaching a new project can be a daunting prospect. This is especially true when you’re trying to model real-world systems; given how mind-bogglingly complex the ‘real world’ can be, it is easy to feel dwarfed by the problem at hand. Oceanographers, however, can’t afford such anxieties – they deal … Continue reading Big oceans, big IT: Modelling plastic pollution in the ocean

A beginner’s guide to shaping global climate policy at the World Meteorological Organization

SSCP-DTP student Stephane Mangeon (Department of Physics) explains why you can expect to hear a lot more about the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Geneva, proudly standing on the banks of the Rhone river and the stunning Lake Geneva, is famed for its banking industry and for being the home of the uber-rich. But Geneva is also an international hub for diplomacy and development, reaching broader horizons than its home … Continue reading A beginner’s guide to shaping global climate policy at the World Meteorological Organization

It’s a small world: How air pollution in Europe can affect rainfall in India

Grantham PhD student Dilshad Shawki explores the latest research unpicking the influence of human activity across the globe on the South Asian monsoon. Each summer the South Asian monsoon drenches the Indian subcontinent, as strong moisture-laden winds from the Indian Ocean deliver over 70% of the region’s annual rainfall in just 3 months. As such, the monsoon’s bountiful rain is crucial to the economy and … Continue reading It’s a small world: How air pollution in Europe can affect rainfall in India

Seven ways maths can save the world

  Can numbers, algebra and trigonometry save the planet? This was the question put to experts during a panel discussion at Imperial hosted by the Grantham Institute and the Mathematics of Planet Earth CDT. CDT students Paula Rowińska and Tom Bendall report back on seven ways that mathematicians are already working towards securing our planet’s future. From meteorology to economics, a wealth of scientific research … Continue reading Seven ways maths can save the world

Climate science: what’s the next big thing?

On 22 April, over 170 nations signed the global climate agreement drawn up in Paris in December. As we reach a turning point in global action on climate, Grantham Institute Head of Policy and Translation Alyssa Gilbert discusses the next big questions for climate research. The climate change deal forged in Paris was a triumph of science, as well as politics. But the agreement was … Continue reading Climate science: what’s the next big thing?

Why climate science needs more lunatics

Dr Jan Zika, NERC Independent Research Fellow in the Department of Physics and a Grantham Affiliate explains why we need brilliant climate scientists now more than ever before. In 1560, our moon did something that it does only every generation or so. As it circled the Earth at a stately pace of one rotation per 27 days, it found itself directly between us and the Sun. … Continue reading Why climate science needs more lunatics

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?

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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?