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I am delighted to introduce this edition of the Sustainable Earth Institute’s (SEI) Sphere.
I am proud that the University of Plymouth’s SEI encapsulates and demonstrates the four key and highly interrelated ‘ingredients’ that will help to promote and build a sustainable future:
- world-leading science to ensure understanding of fundamental earth processes;
- interdisciplinary working bringing natural, engineering, social, economic and behavioural sciences together to promote physical and societal resilience;
- international collaboration and funding to ensure that not only the best scientists tackle the research questions but that local access and interpretation support policy-making; and
- direct societal engagement to build understanding of the issues, and, importantly, to build ‘on-the-ground’ community resilience.
You will find examples of all four ingredients in the following pages. There is research to understand better earthquake and landslide mechanisms through collaboration with partners in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Morocco. A case-study of working with local pastoral farming communities in Tanzania to facilitate changes in land management practices where soil erosion has devastating consequences for livelihoods.
Our SEI team and partners have been working with filmmakers in Lofoten (Norway) to bring science in the field to the public. And finally some sobering thoughts on how to use social media to effectively communicate the devastation of drought to those who experience comfortable and safe lives.
These stories are just snapshots of SEI’s work at Plymouth. But they fully embrace the four ingredients. Importantly they showcase a culture of research working that is essential if effective mitigation and response is to be achieved to the environmental challenges the world faces.
Professor Judith Petts, CBE
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Plymouth
The Lofoten Islands in Norway have an exceptionally well-preserved field site provides a rare ’window’ into these once-deep rocks, now exposed at the earth’s surface after millions of years of erosion.
Read about the NERC-funded project looking at devastating earthquakes
Looking for the scars of earthquakes
Heidi Morstang travelled to the Lofoten Islands with the team of geologists to a make a film about them looking for ‘scars of earthquakes’ in the exposed mountain plateau.
Read more about her trip and how filmmaking is used as a research instrument
The land, droughts and big data
The Science of Big Boulders
As outstanding features in the landscape, large boulders have long captured the imagination of humans
Healthy marine ecosystems
“Collaboration between scientists and policy makers is critical to ensure that scientific research supports binding decisions about the marine environment” - Abigail McQuatters-Gollop
Recent research has shown that wave heights may be enhanced when an earthquake triggers a subsea landslide, causing an extra release of energy into the water column.
Read more about Alison Raby's work on landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis
Featured researcher: Camille Parmesan
Camille’s research focuses on the current impacts of climate change on wildlife, from field-based work on butterflies to synthetic analyses of global impacts on a broad range of species across terrestrial and marine biomes.