The University of East Anglia is currently building a brand new facility to grow sea-ice under realistic Arctic or Antarctic conditions. The role of sea-ice in the Earth’s climate is important for many reasons, including acting as an insulating layer for the oceans, reflecting sunlight back into space and providing a valuable habitat to species such as microscopic algae to polar bears.
However, conducting experiments on sea-ice is difficult (sampling sea-ice nearly always involves removing the sea-ice and storing for analysis back in a lab), relatively dangerous - reference those polars bears mentioned earlier - and usually very expensive. The running costs for an icebreaking ship, such as the Norwegian’s Polarstern Vessel is around £50,000 per day. The idea of creating a miniature version of the Arctic in the laboratory not only reduces the day to day costs of sea-ice research but also entirely removes the dangers posed by polar bears!
EnvEast is a new doctoral training partnership offering a wide variety of projects in Environmental Sciences. Recently recruiting it’s second cohort of students, a fresh batch of research projects are getting underway, both at UEA and other partner institutions. Today, we are focusing on one project, from new Student Ryan Gilchrist, Dynamics and Impacts of Deep Water Oil Spills in the Faroe-Shetland Channel.
With the golden age of antibiotics discovery now in the past it is with rising apprehension that many of us regard the current rise in antibiotic resistance. In 2013 the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davis, warned of an “apocalyptic scenario” in which even the most routine medical operations may become life-threatening due to untreatable infections.
Like many of the French people, I have been very shocked by the attacks in Paris. It is scary, even if we insist that we are not afraid. Of course we are. But I am not only scared by the potential of future attacks. I am more scared by the way that society might change for the worse. The next months and years will be decisive for our society. They will decide the extent to which we stood up to the attack. That is where I make the links with my research. The recovery process from the terrorist attacks is in some ways analogous to the recovery process following a disaster, i.e. what I am studying for my PhD.
If I dare to compare a terrorist attack with a “natural” disaster, it is because they are both a sudden event which bring to light previous issues in the society. The theory of vulnerability in disaster studies argues that there are no natural disasters 1,2. Disasters are human constructs. If the entire society is well-functioning, it can adapt to the hazard and the society recovers quickly and on a sustainable way. If the society is sick, if a part of it is marginalised, then the disaster may generate highly negative impacts in the long-term.
The centuries-old motto, which appears on the French capital's crest, has been a central rallying cry in the wake of the Paris attacks. Public figures have reiterated its message in the last days, emphasising the need to resist and come together in the face of unimaginable adversity.
Paris and the international community have an opportunity to do just that in less than a fortnight. The COP21 has already been branded as the most important environmental conference of our lifetimes. Its significance is doubled now, as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) stressed.