Research News

Ancient tree reveals cause of spike in Arctic temperature

A tree preserved in a New Zealand peat swamp for 30,000 years has revealed new information about the last ice age.

Cold region ‘tipping point’ now inevitable

The decline of cold regions called periglacial zones is now inevitable due to climate change, researchers say

Community support for protection of the Great Barrier Reef

Who cares about the Great Barrier Reef? Many people, according to a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Smart doll uses ‘espionage’ powers for education

A controversial “smart doll” has been reprogrammed to enlighten adults rather than potentially spying on children.

Commuters could help cut Exeter congestion

City commuters could play a pivotal role in helping curb traffic congestion in and around Exeter, thanks to a pioneering initiative.

Supporting coastal communities in Southeast Asia

A group of UK researchers have been awarded funding to help support coastal communities in East and South East Asia that depend on healthy and diverse marine ecosystems.

Sea temperature changes contributing to droughts

Fluctuations in sea surface temperature are a factor in causing persistent droughts, research suggests. 

Monitoring changes in wetland extent can help predict the rate of climate change

Monitoring changes to the amount of wetlands in regions where permafrost is thawing should be at the forefront of efforts to predict future rates of climate change, new research shows.

Top scientist to talk climate change at Glastonbury

Glastonbury festivalgoers can look forward to a heady mix of Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Katy Perry – and a lesson on climate change from a top scientist.

Public confused by climate change messages

Experts, charities, the media and government confuse the public by speaking “different languages” on climate change.

Summer rainfall in vulnerable African region can be predicted

Summer rainfall in one of the world’s most drought-prone regions can now be predicted months or years in advance, climate scientists at the Met Office and the University of Exeter say.

Planting trees ‘not viable alternative’ to cutting emissions

Growing plants to capture CO2 is not a viable way to curb climate change, a new study shows.

Antarctica ‘greening’ due to climate change

Plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change, scientists have found.

Geographers to walk the route of new power line

A group of geographers will walk along the route of proposed new electricity pylons to discover how local people are coming to terms with the impact of the construction on the landscape.

Jurassic drop in ocean oxygen lasted a million years

Dramatic drops in oceanic oxygen, which cause mass extinctions of sea life, come to a natural end – but it takes about a million years.

Brexit negotiations crucial for future UK energy supplies and nuclear safeguards

Energy policy offers the UK and EU an important opportunity to develop new models of partnership and common ground imperative to the UK’s future, according to a new Chatham House paper.

Exeter Geography department gets gender equality award

The University of Exeter’s Geography department has earned an Athena SWAN silver award for gender equality.

Tropical rainstorms and a wobbly rope bridge in the cloudy treetops at the Eden Project’s new Weather Maker

Visitors to the Eden Project can now trek across an aerial rope bridge, shelter from tropical rain and travel through clouds thanks to the opening of a thrilling new rainforest walkway.

Extensive ice cap once covered sub-antarctic island of South Georgia

A new study reveals the sub-antarctic island of South Georgia – famous for its wildlife – was covered by a massive ice cap during the last ice age.

Ancient peoples shaped Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest was shaped by ancient people who lived there, new research reveals.

Caledonian forests threatened by climatic change

Efforts to conserve the remaining fragments of the great Forest of Caledon in Scotland may be doomed to fail unless a new strategy is rapidly adopted, new research suggests.

Watching birds near your home is good for your mental health

People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to research.

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

Warming seawaters threaten the stability of tropical coral reefs, with potentially devastating implications for many reef species and the human communities that reefs support.

Increasing water table in agricultural peatland could cut UK greenhouse gas emissions

Increasing the water table could help to slow down global warming, boost crop yields and preserve peat soils, according to a new study.

Low level of oxygen in Earth’s middle ages delayed evolution for two billion years

A low level of atmospheric oxygen in Earth’s middle ages held back evolution for two billion years, raising fresh questions about the origins of life on this planet.

Role of terrestrial biosphere in counteracting climate change may have been underestimated

Research suggests the capacity of the terrestrial biosphere to absorb carbon dioxide may have been underestimated in past calculations due to certain land-use changes not being fully taken into account.

Research shows driving factors behind changes between local and global carbon cycles

Research has provided a fascinating insight in the quest to determine whether temperature or water availability is the most influential factor in determining the success of global, land-based carbon sinks.

Intensive animal production may boost flu pandemic threat

Mass livestock production is driving molecular changes in diseases that could lead to human pandemics, according to an expert from the University of Exeter.

Mysteries of Father Christmas ‘solved’ by relativity theory

The mystery of how Father Christmas can deliver presents to 700 million children in one night, fit down the chimney and arrive without being seen or heard has been ‘solved’ by a physicist.

Exeter research wins Elsevier Atlas prize

A University of Exeter research paper on using mobile phones to manage disease outbreaks has won a prestigious prize.

Commuter-led project to cut congestion set to move into second gear

The first stage of a commuter-driven initiative designed to help reduce traffic congestion has revealed some fascinating results, organisers have said.

Longest-living animal gives climate change clues

A study of the longest-living animal on Earth, the quahog clam, has demonstrated the vital role oceans play in the planet’s changing climate.

Laser technique boosts aerial imaging of woodlands

A ground-breaking technique which allows green spaces to be mapped in 3D from an aircraft could boost biodiversity, aid human wellbeing and even help protect rainforests.

Exeter professor appointed to influential global research advisory group

A world-leading social scientist from the University of Exeter has been appointed to an influential global research group, designed to pioneer new ways to tackle some of today’s greatest challenges.

Soil could become a significant source of carbon dioxide, experts warn

If people continue using and changing land over the next century in the same way they currently do, soils will have limited potential to counter the effect of climate change. 

Scientists find link between tropical storms and decline of river deltas

A change in the patterns of tropical storms is threatening the future of the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, indicating a similar risk to other deltas around the world, new research shows.

Non-smoking planet: clues for tipping from vicious to virtuous behaviour identified

A new analysis shows that social norms can cross tipping points faster if new behaviour is difficult for others to ignore. 

Exeter Geography Research at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference 2016

Human Geography researchers from across the Geography department at the University of Exeter are presenting and sharing their research at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) in London this week.

Exeter geographers use games to show festival goers the importance of water management

Revellers at Green Man Festival explored the importance of water and land use management by using a range of games and information boards.

Humble moss helped create our oxygen-rich atmosphere

The evolution of the first land plants including mosses may explain a long-standing mystery of how Earth’s atmosphere became enriched with oxygen.

High chance that current atmospheric greenhouse concentrations commit to warmings greater than 1.5 °C

Current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations warm air temperatures overland by over 1.5°C.

Acting together can reduce the risks climate change poses to the UK

The independent Committee on Climate Change today concludes that the impacts of climate change are already being felt in the UK, and urgent action is required to address climate-related risks. 

Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels

Rising sea-levels linked to global warming could pose a significant threat to the effectiveness of the world’s peatland areas as carbon sinks.

Exeter researcher shortlisted for prominent ESRC prize

A University of Exeter geographer has been nominated for a prestigious national award that celebrates research that makes a difference to society. 

El Nino drives fastest annual increase on record of carbon dioxide

The rising concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has passed a symbolic threshold early due to the fastest annual increase on record.

Carbon dioxide biggest player in thawing permafrost

Carbon dioxide emissions from dry and oxygen-rich environments are likely to play a much greater role in controlling future rates of climate change.

Last call for commuters to help steer traffic congestion project

Researchers at the University of Exeter who are working on an initiative to curb traffic congestion are issuing a final call for help from commuters.

Crucial interaction between fire and mankind explored in new research

A pioneering team of international researchers have devised a ‘manifesto for fire science’ to explore the pivotal relationship that exists between mankind and fire, on a global stage.

A new mobile phone app for grassroots mapping

Exeter academics have created an app which could help aid humanitarian rescue work in disaster-struck regions by using geographic data to map landscapes.

Commuters set to take front seat in new project to cut traffic congestion

Commuters are set to become the driving force behind a new initiative designed to help reduce traffic congestion in and around Exeter.

Researchers find significant greening on Earth

There has been an increase in leaves on plants and trees on the Earth equivalent in area to two times the continental USA, a new study shows.

Risk of multiple tipping points should be triggering urgent global action on climate change

To avoid multiple climate tipping points, policy makers need to act now to stop global CO2 emissions by 2050.

University of Exeter hosts extreme weather festival

BBC presenter Dr Helen Czerski and Met Office Chief Scientist Professor Dame Julia Slingo will be among the world-leading climate change experts speaking at a family-friendly festival at the University of Exeter this weekend.  

New research helps solve the riddle of the ocean carbon conundrum

About a quarter of the carbon dioxide we release each year into the atmosphere ends up in the ocean, but how it happens is still not fully understood.

Catastrophic failure of South American ice age dam changed Pacific Ocean circulation and climate

Research could help scientists understand potential effects of melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

World is embracing clean energy, says University of Exeter professor

Renewable, energy efficient and flexible electricity sources are being adopted by policy makers and investors across the globe and this is sign of optimism in the battle against climate change.

Half of all Amazonian tree species may be globally threatened

More than half of all tree species in the world’s most diverse forest may be globally threatened, according to a new study.

Festival of Social Science: A fascinating insight into social science and its influence on our lives

Exeter academics will be demonstrating how our research is investigating the key issues in modern day life at a series of events.

Greenland’s ice sheet plumbing system revealed

Pioneering new research sheds light on the impact of climate change on subglacial lakes found under the Greenland ice sheet.

Exeter geographer contributes to new exhibition of unique black pigment, Bideford Black

An exhibition at a Devon gallery provides a surprising take on a traditional material. 

Ocean circulation rethink solves climate conundrum

Researchers from the University of Exeter believe they have solved one of the biggest puzzles in climate science. 

Kenyan actors visit Cornwall to share extreme weather experiences

Researchers at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus will today welcome actors from Kenyan charity, S.A.F.E. Kenya.

Satellite technology puts ‘mussel’ into shellfish monitoring

University of Exeter researchers are working with a team of UK scientists to explore the use of satellites and meteorological data to monitor and forecast water quality 

Researchers call for Crediton residents to pool flood info

Crediton residents have so far provided a wealth of information about flooding vulnerabilities around the town.

Surfing for science

Scientists from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) plan to use surfers to monitor the coastal environment.

Climate engineering may save coral reefs, study shows

Geoengineering of the climate may be the only way to save coral reefs from mass bleaching, according to new research.

Ecosystem management that ignores ‘taboo tradeoffs’ is likely to fail

Research published today recommends a new approach to the difficult tradeoffs that environmental managers face when choosing between environmental sustainability and profitability. 

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide makes trees use water more efficiently

The increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration has allowed trees across Europe to use their available water resources more efficiently, new research has shown.

One percent of tree species in the Amazon forest account for half of its carbon

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has discovered that fewer than 200 species of Amazonian tree, barely 1%, are responsible for half of all tree growth and carbon stored in the Amazon.

New study shows parrotfish are critical to coral reef island building

Parrotfish, commonly found on healthy coral reefs, can also play a pivotal role in providing the sands necessary to build and maintain coral reef islands.

Climate change: how Brits feel about ‘smart’ energy

Reluctance to share data about personal energy use is likely to be a major obstacle when implementing ‘smart’ technologies.

Water project scoops prestigious national award

A research project which showed how enhancing water storage on peat land can improve water quality and carbon storage – as well as releasing less water during times of flooding – has won a national award.

Greatest mass extinction driven by changes to oceans, study finds

Changes to the Earth’s oceans, caused by extreme volcanic activity, triggered the greatest extinction of all time.

Direct evidence for a positive feedback in climate change

A new study has confirmed the existence of a positive feedback operating in climate change whereby warming itself may amplify a rise in greenhouse gases resulting in additional warming.

A difficult climate: New study examines the media’s response to the IPCC

A study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, has for the first time analysed how Twitter, TV and newspapers reported the IPCC’s climate evidence.

Policy makers should not discount the damages from future climate tipping points

Society should set a high carbon tax now to try and prevent climate change reaching a point of no return according to a new study. 

Amazon’s carbon uptake declines as trees die faster

The most extensive land-based study of the Amazon to date reveals it is losing its capacity to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

First direct evidence that drought-weakened Amazonian forests ‘inhale less carbon’

For the first time, an international research team, including a tropical forest ecologist from the University of Exeter, has provided direct evidence of the rate at which individual trees in the Amazon Basin ‘inhale’ carbon from the atmosphere during a severe drought. 

Exeter team to monitor impact of wild beavers on our waterways

A team at the University of Exeter is to study England’s only breeding population of wild beavers in order to understand their impact on pollution, flooding and water quality after an announcement yesterday.

Doubt cast on global firestorm generated by dino-killing asteroid

Pioneering new research has debunked the theory that the asteroid that is thought to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs also caused vast global firestorms that ravaged planet Earth.

Wolfson Foundation donates £2m towards future of science at Exeter

Exeter has received a £2 million gift from The Wolfson Foundation to support the establishment of a new Living Systems Institute, which will pioneer a new approach to treating the world’s most serious diseases.