news 2018



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Environment - 28.12.2018
7 times Imperial made you double-take in 2018
Some surprise headlines need a second look, and quirky studies can often have serious impact on our lives. From holographic teachers to turtles that breathe through their genitals, here are a handful of the stories that made readers do a double-take in 2018. Napoleon dynamite In August, research from Dr Matthew Genge revealed that electrically charged volcanic ash short-circuited Earth's atmosphere in 1815 causing global poor weather - and Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

Life Sciences - Environment - 21.12.2018
Forget-me-not: Scientists pinpoint memory mechanism in plants
Plant scientists at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham have unravelled a mechanism that enables flowering plants to sense and 'remember' changes in their environment. The research, published , reveals potential new targets that could support the development of new plant varieties, including cereals and vegetables, that can adapt to different environmental conditions.

Environment - 21.12.2018
Forget-me-not: Scientists pinpoint memory mechanism in plants
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have been awarded 1.6M by the Natural Environment Research Council to lead a project investigating shipping emissions in the Arctic and North Atlantic atmosphere. Called SEANA (Shipping Emissions in the Arctic and North Atlantic Atmosphere), the project also includes partners from the University of Exeter, British Antarctic Survey and Cranfield University.

Environment - 21.12.2018
Divining Roots: revealing how plants branch out to access water
New research has discovered how plant roots sense the availability of moisture in soil and then adapt their shape to optimise acquisition of water. The discovery could enable crops to be bred which are more adaptive to changes in climate conditions, such as water scarcity, and help ensure food security in the future.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 20.12.2018
Finds chloroform emissions, on the rise in East Asia, could delay ozone recovery by up to eight years
Earlier this year, the United Nations announced that the ozone layer, which shields the Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, and which was severely depleted by decades of human-derived, ozone-destroying chemicals, is on the road to recovery. The dramatic turnaround is a direct result of regulations set by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a global treaty under which nearly every country in the world, including the United States, successfully acted to ban the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the main agents of ozone depletion.

Environment - 19.12.2018
‘Pause’ in global warming was never real, new research proves
Claims of a 'pause' in observed global temperature warming are comprehensively disproved in a pair of new studies published today. An international team of climate researchers reviewed existing data and studies and reanalysed them. They concluded there has never been a statistically significant 'pause' in global warming.

Environment - 17.12.2018
Drones can detect protected nightjar nests
Thermal-sensing cameras mounted on drones may offer a safer and more cost-effective way to locate nests of the elusive European nightjar in forestry work and construction areas, finds new research by Cardiff University. The team from the University's School of Biosciences conducted a pilot study in Bryn, a Natural Resources Wales conifer plantation in South Wales, to test the suitability of drones to detect nest sites of the protected bird.

Environment - 13.12.2018
3 million for major research study into UK greenhouse gas emissions
A study to develop new methods for evaluating the UK's greenhouse gas emissions using atmospheric observations has been awarded 3M by NERC. The project, led by researchers in Bristol's School of Chemistry, is vital for assessing climate change mitigation measures. Led by Dr Matthew Rigby , the study will deploy a new generation of greenhouse gas measurement techniques that will allow us to better determine emissions from different sectors of the economy.

Environment - 11.12.2018
House size increases after hurricane strikes
Victims of hurricane strikes in the US are becoming more vulnerable to future disasters by re-building their homes bigger than before, research has suggested. In a new study Cardiff University scientists have shown that in specific locations, houses hit by hurricanes are being replaced by new houses that in some areas are more than 50 per cent bigger.

Computer Science - Environment - 11.12.2018
Exciting plans to transform Grade II-listed Municipal Bank welcomed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street
Researchers at the University of Birmingham are set to benefit from the largest IBM POWER9? Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer cluster in the UK. The University will integrate a total of 11 IBM POWER9 systems into its existing high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure, called the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR).

Environment - Life Sciences - 06.12.2018
Under the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree
Tonight the crowds will gather in Trafalgar Square to see the lights on the world's most famous Christmas tree switched on. But it's the bits we can't see that make the Norway Spruce ( Picea abies ) so magnificent. CT scanning - X-Ray Computed Tomography (X-Ray CT) - is an imaging technique originally developed by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield for medical application.

Environment - Life Sciences - 05.12.2018
Study solves mystery of how geckos walk on water
It's official, the humble gecko is the Maserati of reptiles. Despite being just a few centimetres long, the gecko is known for its superior acrobatic skills and ability to power through the most challenging terrain, such as, climbing the tallest trees and running across cold, slippery ice. Scientists have now cracked perhaps its most head-scratching talent of all: how it walks on water.

Environment - Life Sciences - 04.12.2018
Clue to ecosystem recovery after pollution
Scientists have discovered a fish species which significantly evolved and expanded its ecological toolset, after an effort was made to reduce pollution in its ecosystem. The study, led by the University of Glasgow and the University of Konstanz and published in Nature Ecology and Evolution , found that the gangfisch - a European whitefish subspecies - expanded its genetic diversity after habitat loss and hybridization with other whitefish subspecies during eutrophication.

Life Sciences - Environment - 03.12.2018
Nature's 'laboratory' offers clues on how plants thrive through genetic diversity
PA 253/18 Scientists have turned to nature's own 'laboratory' for clues about how plants adapt in the environment to ensure their own survival. A study led by researchers at The University of Nottingham has suggested that while plants evolve to adapt to their conditions, they also maintain a small degree of diversity to stay one step ahead of changing conditions.

Environment - 29.11.2018
University of Birmingham deploys advanced AI computing power for research
In a study published today, a team of ten drought scientists, including the University of Birmingham, argue that while many dams and reservoirs are built, or expanded to alleviate droughts and water shortages, they can paradoxically contribute to make them worse. This perspective paper is published today (13 November 2018) in the journal Nature Sustainability .

Environment - 28.11.2018
Bulk of social media content supports climate change research
The majority of content and commentary being shared on social media supports the scientific consensus on climate change, according to new research from the Oxford Internet Institute. The findings are welcome relief from growing concern around the polarisation of the climate change debate. Despite broad consensus among scientists that climate change is both occurring and caused by human activity, the populist campaign expressing scepticism on the validity of the scientific consensus shows no signs of movement in their beliefs.

Environment - 14.11.2018
Calls for careful consideration when planning dams and reservoirs, and more efforts in water conservation
Evolution of the major groups of fish that we recognise today took place in shallow waters, close to the seashore, according to new research at the University of Birmingham. The findings, published in Science suggest that, while coral reefs may be vital for diversification at the present day, fragile near shore environments were crucial for evolution some 480-360 million years ago.

Life Sciences - Environment - 12.11.2018
Misunderstood flying fox could prove bat species demise, warn scientists
A large fruit-eating bat native to Mauritius is the subject of controversy over the announcement of a major cull to protect the Indian island's fruit crops, despite a lack of evidence as to the extent of damage directly attributed to the endangered species. An international team of researchers, including the University of Bristol, that monitored the damage directly caused by the Mauritian flying fox to commercial fruit has found the bat is responsible for only some, and could be managed effectively without the need to cull.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 07.11.2018
Opinion: Methods for protecting England’s coastal communities ’not fit for purpose’
Professor Tom Spencer from Cambridge's Department of Geography and Professor Gerd Masselink from the University of Plymouth say evidence suggests there should be far stricter controls on coastal developments. In October 2018, a stark report suggested that current methods being used to protect England's coastal communities are 'not fit for purpose'.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 05.11.2018
Three Bristol academics win Philip Leverhulme Prizes
Dr Juliet Biggs, Dr Claire Haworth and Dr John Russo have each been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for their research. The Prize is awarded for 'achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising'. Dr Juliet Biggs (School of Earth Sciences) Dr Biggs studies active volcanoes and earthquakes to examine the physics of plate boundary development.
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