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Environment - Chemistry - 10.06.2021
'Vegan spider silk' provides sustainable alternative to single-use plastics
’Vegan spider silk’ provides sustainable alternative to single-use plastics
Researchers have created a plant-based, sustainable, scalable material that could replace single-use plastics in many consumer products. It was a surprise to find our research could also address a big problem in sustainability: that of plastic pollution Tuomas Knowles The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, created a polymer film by mimicking the properties of spider silk, one of the strongest materials in nature.

Environment - 07.06.2021
Experiment evaluates the effect of human decisions on climate reconstructions
Experiment evaluates the effect of human decisions on climate reconstructions
The first double-blind experiment analysing the role of human decision-making in climate reconstructions has found that it can lead to substantially different results. Scientists aren't robots, and we don't want them to be, but it's important to learn where the decisions are made and how they affect the outcome Ulf Büntgen The experiment, designed and run by researchers from the University of Cambridge, had multiple research groups from around the world use the same raw tree-ring data to reconstruct temperature changes over the past 2,000 years.

Environment - Astronomy / Space Science - 04.06.2021
Arctic sea ice thinning faster than expected
Sea ice in the coastal regions of the Arctic may be thinning up to twice as fast as previously thought, according to a new modelling study led by UCL researchers. Sea ice thickness is inferred by measuring the height of the ice above the water, and this measurement is distorted by snow weighing the ice floe down.

Environment - Life Sciences - 31.05.2021
Newly discovered African ’climate seesaw’ drove human evolution
Ancient El Niņo-like weather patterns were the primary drivers of environmental change in sub-Saharan Africa when humans were evolving, according to research involving UCL. Scientists have shown that over the last 620,000 years these alternately wet and dry patterns had more profound impacts in sub-Saharan Africa than  the great ice age cycles, which until now have been more commonly linked to human evolution.

Environment - 27.05.2021
Surge in noise complaints in London during the first lockdown
Noise complaints in London increased by nearly 50% during the first lockdown in Spring 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, finds a report by UCL researchers. Complaints about neighbourhood noise - mainly from residents - and construction increased the most, at 36% and 50% respectively. Areas with higher unemployment rates, more residents with no qualifications and lower house prices saw the biggest rise in complaints.

Environment - 26.05.2021
Floating ocean plastic can get a boost to its wave-induced transport because of its size
Floating ocean plastic can get a boost to its wave-induced transport because of its size
Plastic pollution and other ocean debris are a complex global environmental problem. Every year, ten million tonnes of plastic are estimated to be mismanaged, resulting in entry into the ocean, of which half will float initially. Yet, only 0.3 million tonnes of plastic can be found floating on the surface of the ocean.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 25.05.2021
Scientists track veil of toxic metals carried in Kilauea's gas plumes, revealing hidden dangers of volcanic pollution
Scientists track veil of toxic metals carried in Kilauea’s gas plumes, revealing hidden dangers of volcanic pollution
A team of volcanologists who observed the colossal 2018 eruption of Kilauea, Hawai'i, have tracked how potentially toxic metals carried in its gas plumes were transported away from the volcano to be deposited on the landscape.

Environment - 24.05.2021
Citizen researchers tracking air pollution in our homes
Citizen researchers tracking air pollution in our homes
A group of citizen scientists is being recruited to help investigate the scale of microplastic air pollution inside people's homes. During the first phase of the study, researchers from the University of Leeds will work with 40 families from Bradford, in West Yorkshire, to measure the level of microplastics caught in sampling devices placed inside their houses.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 24.05.2021
Greenland glacial meltwaters rich in mercury
Greenland glacial meltwaters rich in mercury
New research shows concentrations of the toxic element mercury in rivers and fjords connected to the Greenland Ice Sheet are comparable to rivers in industrial China, an unexpected finding raising questions about the effects of glacial melting in an area that is a major exporter of seafood. "There are surprisingly high levels of mercury in the glacier meltwaters we sampled in southwest Greenland," said lead author Jon Hawkings, a postdoctoral fellow at Florida State University and the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.

Environment - Life Sciences - 24.05.2021
Infertility poses major threat to biodiversity during climate change
Infertility poses major threat to biodiversity during climate change
Heat-induced male infertility will see some species succumb to the effects of climate change earlier than thought, new research warns. A study of 43 fruit fly (Drosophila) species by a team including ecologists at the University of Leeds showed that in almost half of the species, males became sterile at lower than lethal temperatures.

Life Sciences - Environment - 20.05.2021
Stressful city life affects birds’ genes
Great tits living in cities are genetically different from great tits in the countryside. Researchers made the discovery after a unique study where they examined populations of great tits in nine large European cities, including Glasgow. The researchers compared the city bird genes with the genes of their relatives in the countryside.

Life Sciences - Environment - 18.05.2021
Intensive agriculture could drive loss of bees and other tropical pollinators
Pollinators in the tropics are less likely to thrive in intensive croplands, finds a new study led by UCL researchers suggesting bees and butterflies are at risk of major losses. Across the globe, lower levels of land use intensity are good for pollinators, finds the new Nature Communications paper which shows the importance of sustainable land management in cities and agricultural regions.

Environment - 17.05.2021
African rainforests can resist severe heat and drought
African rainforests can resist severe heat and drought
Scientists studying the impact of record heat and drought on intact African tropical rainforests were surprised by how resilient they were to extreme conditions during the last major El Niņo event. The Leeds-led international study, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, found that intact rainforests across tropical Africa continued to remove carbon from the atmosphere before and during the 2015-2016 El Niņo, despite the extreme heat and drought.

Environment - Astronomy / Space Science - 14.05.2021
New report highlights satellite observation as vital to tackling climate change
Professor Marian Scott of the School of Mathematics and Statistics is one of the co-authors of a new briefing paper from the COP26 Universities Network. Although the UK is at the forefront of developing and harnessing technology to turn Earth Observation (EO) data into actionable information, more education and training is needed to maximise its potential and help the world to meet challenging climate targets.

Paleontology - Environment - 14.05.2021
Herbivores developed powerful jaws to digest tougher plants following the Mass Extinctions
Herbivores developed powerful jaws to digest tougher plants following the Mass Extinctions
The evolution of herbivores is linked to the plants that survived and adapted after the 'great dying', when over 90% of the world's species were wiped out 252 million years ago. Researchers at the University of Bristol found that plant eaters diversified quickly after mass extinctions to eat different kinds of plants, and the ones that were able to chew harsher materials, which reflected the drying conditions of the late Triassic, became the most successful.

Environment - 14.05.2021
Trace gases from ocean are source of particles accelerating Antarctic climate change
Trace gases from ocean are source of particles accelerating Antarctic climate change
Scientists exploring the drivers of Antarctic climate change have discovered a new and more efficient pathway for the creation of natural aerosols and clouds which contribute significantly to temperature increases. The Antarctic Peninsula has shown some of the largest global increases in near-surface air temperature over the last 50 years, but experts have struggled to predict temperatures because little was known about how natural aerosols and clouds affect the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth and energy radiated back into space.

Environment - 14.05.2021
Antarctic ice sheet retreat could trigger chain reaction
Antarctic ice sheet retreat could trigger chain reaction
New study suggests increasing rainfall could reduce the ability of the climate system to maintain a large Antarctic ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet was even more unstable in the past than previously thought, and at times possibly came close to collapse, new research from Cardiff University suggests.

Environment - Agronomy / Food Science - 13.05.2021
Kelp, maggots and mycoprotein among future foods that must be mass-farmed to combat malnutrition
Kelp, maggots and mycoprotein among future foods that must be mass-farmed to combat malnutrition
Radical changes to the food system are needed to safeguard our food supply and combat malnutrition in the face of climate change, environmental degradation and epidemics, says new report. Advances in technology open up many possibilities for alternative food supply systems that more risk-resilient, and can efficiently supply sustainable nutrition to billions of people Catherine Richards Researchers at the University of Cambridge say our future global food supply cannot be safeguarded by traditional approaches to improving food production.

Environment - Computer Science - 10.05.2021
Can federated learning save the world?
Can federated learning save the world?
Training the artificial intelligence models that underpin web search engines, power smart assistants and enable driverless cars, consumes megawatts of energy and generates worrying carbon dioxide emissions. But new ways of training these models are proven to be greener.   The development and usage of AI is playing an increasing role in the tragedy that is climate change, and this problem will only worsen as this technology continues to proliferate through society Nic Lane Artificial intelligence models are used increasingly widely in today's world.

Environment - 07.05.2021
Sea level rises from melting ice massively reduced by limiting global warming
Sea level rises from melting ice massively reduced by limiting global warming
Sea level rise caused by melting ice could be halved this century if the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5°C is met. A new study, from an international research team including University of Leeds scientists, explored the land ice contribution to sea level in the 21st century arising from the world’s glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
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