Old photos shed new light on the #Antarctic #climatechange @nclceser @nclceg

Aerial photos from the 1940s and 1950s are drawing upon CESER’s expertise in observation and monitoring to probe the climate history of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Researchers from Newcastle University, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and University of Gloucestershire, are comparing the images with newly acquired data sets to assess the changes that have occurred in some of the region’s 400-plus glaciers.

The Antarctic Peninsula has undergone dramatic changes over recent decades due to global climate change and getting an accurate picture of change in volume and mass of the glaciers is difficult. Satellites are used to track such trends today but their record span only a relatively short timeframe.

Instead, the team are comparing the old photographs with modern information.  Using novel techniques that are able to precisely position the pictures, the information is carefully aligned in order to make sure any comparisons are accurate and reliable.

CESER researcher Dr Pauline Miller, based in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University, explains: “The archive of aerial photos goes back to the 1940s and represents an extraordinary account of the pioneering days of polar exploration.

“The men who ventured forth in their planes to capture pictures of the peninsula’s rugged ice-scape took huge risks, with none of the back-up that modern expeditions can count on.

“They had no idea what they were flying into because no-one had ever been there before.  The 1940s were just about flying to see what they could find, but by the 1950s it was much more systematic – for topographic mapping purposes. It was all about staking a claim in Antarctica when nations were becoming more competitive.

“That these old images still have scientific value in the 21st Century is down to novel techniques that are able to precisely position the pictures using newly created accurate, modern-day elevation models of the peninsula.”

The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), was presented this week at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Leading the talks were Dr Miller and Dr Lucy Clarke from the University of Gloucestershire

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Clarke said: “We want to use these pictures to work out volume and mass-balance changes in the glaciers through time.

“There are tens of thousands of these historical images, held by the British Antarctic Survey and the US Geological Survey.

“So, they’ve long been around, but it’s only now that we’ve had the capability to extract the 3D data from them.”

The team is using the latest optical satellite data to do this, as well as modern aerial photos acquired by BAS planes equipped with GPS.

Fundamental to these techniques is finding visual cues in the ice-scape that allow historical and current information to be married up.

“These visual cues have got to have some kind of rock; white areas of snow are no good to us because obviously they can change and they’re not easy to identify. We need stable areas like mountain peaks,” adds Dr Clarke.

Submit to a conference session on “Reconciling adaptation and mitigation in cities” @nclceser @ECCA2015 @ICLEI_Europe

You are invited to submit a presentation to a session on “Reconciling adaptation and mitigation in cities” to be held at the 2015 European Climate Change Adaptation Conference.  Details of the session, and a link to the submission website, are below.  This session which will focus on scientific advances in this topic is being organised by CESER director Richard Dawson (Newcastle University) and paired to a second session, led by ICLEI Europe which will provide an end-user oriented perspective.

We look forward to hearing from you, and please do circulate to interested colleagues.


Reconciling adaptation and mitigation in cities: Part I – The science basis: Recent methodological advances
Chair: Richard Dawson (Newcastle University, UK)
Co-chair: Alberto Trenzi, (ICLEI)

The urgent need to reconfigure our urban areas so that they consume fewer resources, emit less pollution (including GHGs), are more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and are more sustainable in general, is increasingly recognized.

As the global population consolidates, urban areas have become focal points for sustainability initiatives. However, there is increased recognition that there are potential synergies and conflicts in the objectives of mitigation, adaptation and sustainability strategies.

These interactions, potential conflicts and synergies are no more vivid than in urban areas, where they play out through land use, infrastructure systems and the built environment.

Without sensible planning, well-meant interventions can have negative impacts elsewhere. For example, desalination can secure water supplies, but, as an energy-intensive process, can confound efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Denser cities can reduce transport energy costs, but can increase urban heat island intensity.

Many other interactions are more subtle in comparison. Road pricing strategies designed to curb emissions from the transport sector can amplify inequalities by limiting accessibility options of poorer urban residents and drive up inner city rents.

This session will explore different approaches that have been developed to understand and seeking to reconcile potential trade-offs between adaptation, mitigation and sustainability measures in urban areas.

Potential topics might include, but are not limited to, technical measures, governance and policy strategies, or bottom-up community actions. New and innovative research methods (including an update from the FP7 RAMSES project), case studies as well as exemplars of best practise from policy makers and industry are invited.

This session is linked to the ICLEI led “Reconciling adaptation and mitigation in cities: Part II – The application basis: Mainstreaming into the planning process”, attendees will benefit from, but are not required to attend both sessions.

Prof. Ashok Deshpande, Berkeley: Seminar on Application of Fuzzy Logic to Environmental Data #ibuild

Speaker: Professor Ashok Deshpande, Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing (BISC), University of California, Berkeley

Location: Cassie 3.25 Time/Date: 27th November 2014, 14:00 – 15:00

Zadeh-Deshpande (ZD) fuzzy logic based formalism for linguistic description of air quality: a case study

In everyday life and field such as environmental health people deal with concepts that involve factors that defy classification into crisp sets: safe, harmful, acceptable with mitigation measures, and so on. A classic example is a regulator carefully explaining the result of a detailed quantitative risk assessment report to a community group, only to be asked over and over again. But are we safe? In this case, safe defies crisp classification because it is a multivariate state with gradation that varies among different individuals and groups. Furthermore, it is hard to define the terms such as: health, environment,  safe, air and water quality, risk and alike as these are vague or fuzzy terms based on perception

This seminar presents application of a novel fuzzy logic based formalism (ZD approach) to straightway describe air quality in various linguistic terms with linguistic degree of certainty attached to each description. The case study relates to air quality status in Chennai city of India in 2013. Comparative air quality status of New York and Mumbai also from an integral part of the study. The aggregation of the concepts of aleotary as well as epistemic uncertainty in the air quality parametric data is demonstrated using the concept of Degree of Match. ZD approach is complete departure from the traditional air quality index system.

Professor Ashok Deshpande PhD (Engineering)

Founding Chair: Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing (BISC) – UC Berkeley CA; Guest Faculty: University of California Berkeley; Visiting Professor: Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai India; Adjunct Professor: College of Engineering Pune (COEP) India; Former Deputy Director: National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)/CSIR

Dr. Ashok has been a WHO Adviser, a Commonwealth Science Council Resource Scientist and a World Bank Project Director for the studies on Probabilistic Risk Assessment for Chemical Process industry.

Dr. Deshpande’s has a passion and mission to propagate the use of fuzzy logic. In 2004 and 2006, Dr. Ashok was invited by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an expert to organize a training programme at CDTN, Brazil on fuzzy logic and its applications. Between 2006 and 2013 he has organized training workshops on fuzzy sets and fuzzy logic with applications at the University of Illinois Chicago USA (sponsored by VRI Chicago), UBC Canada, Tribhuvan University Nepal , LTU Sweden, VIT Spain and CSU USA. At present, his doctoral students work mainly on fuzzy logic related topics. Professor Deshpande has delivered seminar at University of Maryland Baltimore (2013), University of Gyor, Hungary (2013) and Harvard University (June 2014). He also organized a workshop as a WHO Adviser in 5 capital cities (Colombo, Dhaka, Yongon, Kathmandu and Delhi) on ‘Unaccounted for Water Management’ and also assisted Danish International Development Authority (DANIDA) as a Project Advisor.

Professor Lotfi Zadeh, the founder of fuzzy logic, after listening to many seminar talks, asked Professor Deshpande to be the Chair of Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing (BISC). He is also a guest faculty at the University of California Berkeley and visiting scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA.

Dr. Lee Chapman: Seminar on building urban climate resilience #ibuild

Dr. Lee Chapman, a reader in climate resilience at Birmingham University will be giving a talk about his work on urban and infrastructure resilience to extreme events.

Drinks will be provided after the seminar.

Building Urban Climate Resilience

The Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory is a near real-time, high-resolution urban meteorological network of automatic weather stations and inexpensive ‘Internet of Things’ air temperature sensors located across the city of Birmingham.  The network was initially designed with a focus on monitoring urban heat impacts on infrastructure and health, but has since inspired a number of other smart city / Internet of Things projects.  This seminar will showcase the ongoing work with Birmingham City Council, Amey PLC and the Railway Safety and Standards Board as we head towards the goal of improved urban climate resilience in the city.



Two #lecturer #jobs in Geotechnical and Structural engineering @nclceg @nclceser @UniofNewcastle #civilengineering

Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering

School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Science, Agriculture & Engineering, Ref D1619A
Lecturer Grade F:     £33,242 – £37,394
Lecturer Grade G: £38,511 – £40,847

Closing date:              23 October2014


Lecturer in Structural Engineering

School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Science, Agriculture & Engineering, Ref D1620A
Lecturer Grade F:     £33,242 – £37,394
Lecturer Grade G: £38,511 – £40,847

Closing date:              23 October 2014


#ceser #water Three fully funded PhD studentships are available within the Water Resources Engineering Group

Three fully funded PhD studentships are available within the Water Resources Engineering Group in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University, sponsored by Science Agriculture and Engineering Faculty Doctoral Training Awards.

The Water Resources Engineering Group is a leading centre for research into climate and catchment modelling, and development of advanced hydroinformatics, risk analysis and decision support tools. These are used internationally to tackle the complexities of coupled technological, human and natural systems and enable practical responses to the challenges of intensifying global change.

Each Doctoral Training Award is for £20,000 per annum. This award is sufficient to cover home(UK)/EU fees and a contribution to an annual stipend (living expenses). Applications will be considered as they are received, until 18th August 2014 or sooner if the awards are made before this date.

Further details on each studentship are given below, including contact details for further information, and links to the Newcastle University website with details on how to apply.

Vulnerability of shallow groundwater and surface water resources used for irrigation in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa to climate variability and change.

Reference Code:           CI701.

Contact:                        geoff.parkin@ncl.ac.uk.

Link:                             http://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/search/list/ci701

There is abundant groundwater in Africa; more than 100 times the annual renewable freshwater resource and 20 times the amount of freshwater stored in lakes, but its productive use in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains low. Globally, abstraction of groundwater increased tenfold between 1950 and 2000 and contributed significantly to growth in irrigation, particularly in Asia. Rapid expansion of groundwater use may also be about to occur in SSA, to support dry season irrigation used to enhance traditional rain-fed agriculture. Given the constraints of lack of technical and financial resources to drill into deeper aquifers, development of groundwater resources is easier to achieve in shallow aquifers. However, shallow aquifers are more vulnerable to climate variability, particularly to recurrent droughts or delays in the onset of wet season rainfall, due to their limited capacity as a groundwater store.

The research aims to carry out multi-scale assessments related to the impacts of climate variability and change across sub-Saharan Africa, to identify the key factors, particularly climatic but also including hydrogeological constraints, agricultural water potential demand, patterns of demand from crop choices, methods of irrigation, and land use within watershed management programmes, that control vulnerability of shallow groundwater resources used by rural communities for irrigation. Based on analysis of large-scale climatic patterns and water management practices, appropriate mathematical models of integrated groundwater-surface water systems will be developed at multiple scales, and used with statistical methods to assess vulnerability of shallow groundwater resources for a range of scenarios of climate and resource planning.

The use of long term climatic data takes places mainly at national and regional levels, influencing large scale policies. This PhD will include some visits to selected SSA countries for interaction with governance as well as technical institutions in order to understand the current and potential use of climatic data in decision-making. This contextual understanding will help to enhance the practical use of the research and to produce policy recommendations.

The PhD study is closely allied with an existing research project funded by NERC, ESRC and DfID, working in Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa. A further proposal to extend this work over at least the period of the PhD study is being submitted. If successful, the student will be fully integrated into this research programme, which will offer further opportunities for in-depth field visits working with local communities.

We aim to recruit an ambitious numerate student who has the aptitude and interest for analysis of large datasets and use of advanced modelling techniques for climate and hydrological/hydrogeological assessments, together with an interest in application in a developing countries context. The student will be expected to liaise with our partners in Ethiopia and other African countries, in particular the International Water Management Institute and the Geological Survey of Ethiopia. Candidates would typically be expected to be educated in an undergraduate degree in a numerate discipline (e.g. engineering), with an MSc/MRes in a relevant applied discipline such as water resources management, or an undergraduate degree in environment or earth sciences with a relevant numerate MSc/MRes degree.

Will catchment scale afforestation for mitigating flooding significantly reduce water resource availability and productive farmland?

Reference Code:           CI702

Contact:                        james.bathurst@newcastle.ac.uk

Link:                             http://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/search/list/ci702

The 2013-14 winter floods in the UK have led to calls to afforest the uplands to reduce future flooding. However, the role of forests in flood reduction remains controversial. Further, the proportion of a catchment that would need to be forested to have a significant impact on downstream flooding, and the amount of farmland that would be correspondingly lost, have yet to be defined. Water resources could equally be reduced by the additional forest evapotranspiration. The study will therefore examine the hypothesis that catchment afforestation programmes can significantly reduce downstream flood hazard without significantly reducing water resource availability or productive farmland. Both headwater catchment plantation (affecting flood frequency and magnitude) and riparian plantation (to attenuate flood wave movement in the floodplain will be considered).

Study objectives include the impact that upstream afforestation can have downstream at the full catchment scale, the proportion of a catchment and the parts of a catchment that need to be afforested to have a significant downstream impact and the extrapolation of the results to a potential full UK programme. An integrated field and modelling approach will be followed, in which the field study ensures a foundation on firm experimental evidence while the modelling provides the means to extrapolate from the necessarily limited field data and to generalise applicability. The effects of afforesting headwater catchments will be investigated using Newcastle University’s leading physically-based catchment modelling system SHETRAN. The relevant field evidence will come from an existing paired grassland/forest catchment experiment in the Irthing catchment (Cumbria) headwaters while the full catchment will form the basis for simulations investigating the scale and spatial distribution issues. The impact of riparian forest will be modelled using a powerful new hydrodynamic modelling framework, developed at Newcastle University, that fully exploits modern graphics and central processing units. The relevant field evidence will come from existing experimental studies in Northumberland into the use of instream large wood debris structures and riparian plantation to attenuate flood wave movement. A recently developed framework for applying SHETRAN at the UK scale will provide the basis for simulating the impact of catchment afforestation on flood response at the national scale. An important output will be benefit in flood reduction as a function of the area and location of land required to be afforested to achieve that benefit, compared with the associated reduction in water resource availability and loss of farmland. Stakeholder involvement will ensure focus on practical and applied outcomes and provide a pathway for achieving impact. The study is highly relevant to the social issue of flooding while also providing an opportunity to examine in detail the scientific controversy over the impact of forests on floods within the context of a potential large-scale application.

Applicants should have a 1st class or high 2.i first degree or a MSc with at least a high merit pass (65+). Relevant degrees include environmental science, geography, engineering and mathematics. Applicants should be willing to carry out field work in remote areas of northern England in all weathers; for this it would be helpful to have an appropriate driving licence. They should be numerate, have an aptitude for computer modelling and be fluent in English, including writing.

Attribution of climate risks in urban areas for the design of adaptation pathways

Reference Code:           CI700

Contact:                        richard.dawson@newcastle.ac.uk

Link:                             http://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/search/list/ci700

Climate related risks are usually a function of multiple weather, socio-economic and engineering factors.  This is particularly acute in urban areas where these three dimensions are tightly coupled and highly dynamic.  Attribution of risk, decomposes its constituent elements to enable decision-makers to better target investment to manage risk.  Methods of attribution are emerging for global scale analysis, providing useful information for global greenhouse gas mitigation.  But these methods are not suited to local scale attribution of risk, and prioritisation of investment in adaptation strategies to reduce climate related risks.  This PhD will address this challenge through development of a range of analytical approaches to decomposing the constituent factors of climate risk at the urban scale.

The ideal candidate would be:

  • from an engineering, mathematical or physical science background,
  • proficient in statistics, computational analysis and modelling,
  • knowledge of climate change and adaptation issues,
  • able to communicate with urban planners and infrastructure owner/operators, and,
  • capable of writing up their work for academic and stakeholder audiences.





CESER Academic Hayley Fowler awarded prestigious Wolfson Merit Award @nclceser @nclceser @UniofNewcastle @HayleyJFowler

ncegweb_264580Professor Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts in CESER, has been awarded a highly prestigious Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award to support her research programme on “Understanding climate change impacts on hydrological extremes.”

Hayley works on interdisciplinary research within the earth system sciences, at the interface between climatology and hydrology. Her  research  aims  to  further  the understanding  of  the  role  of  climate  variability  and  global warming  on  the  occurrence  of  extreme  weather  events,  and  the  societal  impacts. She combines observational, modelling, statistical and theoretical approaches to examine the potential impacts of climate change on heavy rainfall, flood and water resource drought risks. Her work  ranges  from  interpreting  and  understanding  recent  and  historical  changes  and predictions  of  future  changes  in  extremes,  to  using  this  understanding  to  develop  new  downscaling methods  from  climate  models  that  can  be  used  in  climate  change  impact  studies.  Examples of her work include http://www.ncl.ac.uk/sustainability/news/item/heavier-summer-downpours-with-climate-change-copy

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Jointly funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Wolfson Research Merit Scheme aims to help universities retain respected UK scientists of outstanding achievement and potential.

CESER researcher Steve Birkinshaw breaks the 214 peaks challenge record!!! @nclceser @UniofNewcastle #jossnaylor #fellrunning

ncegweb_264540A Cumbrian fell runner has set a new record for tackling all of Alfred Wainwright’s 214 peaks in the Lake District.

Steve Birkinshaw broke the record set by Joss Naylor in 1987,  who completed the challenge in seven days, one hour and 25 minutes. Mr Birkinshaw, 45, ran 320 miles (515km) and ascended 36,000m (118,000ft) in six days and 13 hours. The challenge raised more than £12,000 for two Multiple Sclerosis charities.

Mr Birkinshaw’s sister has the disease and he will be  donation to both the national MS Society and a local charity, the Samson  Centre.

He said: “It’s all a bit overwhelming to be honest. Joss  Naylor is an incredible athlete, so to have beaten his record is an  amazing feeling. There were some really tough times out there, but I was  spurred on every time I reached a Wainwright top and met someone else  who had made the effort to come out and support me.”Threlkeld-based Mr Birkinshaw, who works as a research  associate at Newcastle University, got under way in Keswick on Saturday  14 June at 09:00 BST and finished back in the town on Friday at 22:00  BST. He ran the equivalent of two marathons each day and a GPS tracker recorded his movements.

The 214 fells (hills and mountains) were described in Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells (1955-66).

More can be found in Steve’s blog: https://stevebirkinshaw-wainwright2014.blogspot.com

Steve was raising money for two MS charities:



Newcastle City Dashboard launched

dashboard2-iconsWe are pleased to announce the beta release of the Science Central Urban Observatory Newcastle City Dashboard, mixing real-time sensor feeds from the Urban Observatory platform, public and social media feeds.  As always this is a work in progress so expect to see some more data streams soon.


The dashboard was developed by Massimo Strano, Neil Harris & Phil James and funded through an EPSRC grant to prototype a Long Term Urban Research Facility (LTURF) held by CESER director Richard Dawson.  The work is also being supported by the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ceg/)

The Urban Observatory now contains over 7 million observations and another 100 sensors are being deployed over the next few weeks.  In the next two years through the Univesrity’s Science Central programme, we have c. £500k to invest in sensor related infrastructure and hope to incorporate many existing, external sensor feeds within the observatory umbrella.