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UBoC on the BEEB (again)

Two members of the UBoC team have appeared on the BBC recently.

Kate Sambrook appeared on Paul Hudson’s Weather Show on the 8th of July, talking about her upcoming PhD.

She tweeted: “Thrilled to be back in the studio with @Hudsonweather on the @weathershowbbc talking about my PhD project and my podcast with @TheClimatePress on the history of climate change”

(Scroll to 46.05 for Kate’s interview).

And Dr Andy Marshall from University of York and Australia’s University of The Sunshine Coast (yes, really!) popped up in the BBC flagship Today on the 18th, talking about a new species of tree he has discovered in Tanzania, one of the Custard Apple family, which is pollinated by beetles.

This one starts at 53:30.

The tree, which grows up to 20m tall and has white flowers, has been categorised as endangered due to its restricted population range at only 8km-sq. It is as yet unknown what kind of wildlife might rely on the tree, but it is most likely pollinated by a species of beetle.

Andy discovered the tree when carrying out a survey of the forest to understand the environmental factors that influence the amount of carbon that forests can store.

Botanist George Gosline, from Kew Gardens, recognized that this is a new species related to a group previously thought to be restricted to western Africa. This in turn led to recognition of three new species in the group.

Picture from Down to Earth
Continue reading UBoC on the BEEB (again)

Carbon Calculation At UBoC

The Committee for Climate Change (of which our Trustee Piers Forster in a member) has advised that we need to halve emissions by 2030 if we’re to stand a fair chance of avoiding more than 1.5 degrees C of warming over pre-industrial levels, and possibly catastrophic climate impacts.

This sets a huge challenge for authorities at every level, from UK Government down to parish councils, as well as businesses and organisations of every kind – but above all to each one of us as responsible citizens of the world.

The UK average annual consumption footprint is currently 11 tonnes of CO2e per person (this average includes children, old folks and others with very low footprints – so most adults emit a lot more), and we all have to get ours down to below 5.5 tonnes over the next decade.

But where to start? It’s not easy being green in a world that’s addicted to fossil fuels with few alternatives, and a lot of very confusing advice.

Well, as the old adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so UBoC has developed a personal carbon calculator to help everyone get the ball rolling on reducing our footprints, hard, and fast.

Continue reading Carbon Calculation At UBoC

Trees on the Beeb

UBoC’s Professor Dominick Spracklen and PhD researcher Felicity Monger were interviewed by Nick Garnett last week at the Leeds Forest Observatory on Radio 5 Live Breakfast, as part of UN International Day of Forests

Dom Spracklen

You can listen to the interview here, first at about 55:20 and again at 1:56:30):

BBC Radio 5 Live have been doing excellent work on climate change and other global environmental issues such as plastic pollution, under their Cool Planet banner:

Felicity Monger

Dom and Felicity explained the research work being done at the observatory, the value of trees and their role in helping to mitigate climate change (clue; we can’t plant enough to fix the problem, but it certainly helps), and in helping to prevent flooding. Later they suggested ways in which people can get involved in supporting tree planting.

Team UBoC: Good News x2

Two good news items have hit the blog desk this week:

The first is that UBoC’s first fully-funded doctoral student has graduated, following the submission of his thesis on “The Impact of changes in anthropogenic air pollutants on particulate air quality and the attributable burden of disease” – so, congratulations to Dr Ed Butt!

Dr Ed Butt

Says Ed, “I stared working with UBoC back in 2010 and became their first funded PhD student in 2013. Since then UBoC has grown considerably with (soon) 11 other PhD students now working on all kinds of exciting research projects relating to the world’s forests and trees.

I would like to thank UBoC for providing me with the opportunities and skills needed to successfully complete my PhD project. It has been a real pleasure working with everyone over these past years.

However, I won’t be leaving Leeds or involvement with UBoC now that my PhD has come to an end. I have just taken up a postdoctoral position on the DECAF project, which seeks to understand climate and air quality impacts associated with tropical deforestation. My role will be looking that local climate impacts.”

The second good news story is that UBoC has appointed a Tree Officer: Anna Gugan.

Anna Gugan

Anna explains: “I first encountered UBoC when studying for my Masters in Landscape Architecture at Leeds Beckett. Initially I volunteered for the University of Leeds I-Tree survey in the summer of 2017, and then used I-Tree as part of my Major Design submission, which focused on Harrogate.

When UBoC’s i-Tree researcher, Dr Hannah Walker, left to take up a post in Antarctica, I helped finish the tree survey and data processing. Being appointed to the new post as UBoC’s Tree Officer is a great privilege, and I’m looking forward to working further with i-Tree and other natural capital valuation tools, as well as helping with the development of UK planting projects, especially the White Rose Forest, which forms the Yorkshire section of the Northern Forest.

How smoky are peat fires?

Deforestation in Equatorial Asia has been increasing in recent decades, as oil palm plantations spread out into the tropical forests of Borneo and Indonesia [1]. And as UBoC PhD student Laura Kiely has found from her research, while loss of habitat from this encroachment is often shown in the media, deforestation can have other, less well known impacts on the air quality and climate.

Fires are used to clear land for plantations, and the land is then drained, so it becomes more susceptible to future fires. [2]

Continue reading How smoky are peat fires?