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The future of sustainable ocean science

May 9th ushered in the 9th National Oceanography Centre (NOC) Association meeting, held among the crowds, statues, flags, and banners, at Central Hall in an unseasonably chilly and rainy Westminster. But it was the first such meeting where the University of Bristol was represented, and I was honoured to fly our own flag, for both University of Bristol and the Cabot Institute for the Environment.

NOC is – currently – a part of the Natural Environment Research Council (one of the UK Research Councils, under the umbrella of UKRI), but is undergoing a transformation in the very near future to an independent entity, and a charitable organisation in its own right aimed at the advancement of science. If you’ve heard of NOC, you’re likely aware of the NOC buildings in Southampton (and the sister institute in Liverpool). However, the NOC Association is a wider group of UK universities and research institutes with interests in marine science, and with a wider aim: to promote a two-way conversa…
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Global warming 'hiatus' is the climate change myth that refuses to die

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The record-breaking, El Niño-driven global temperatures of 2016 have given climate change deniers a new trope. Why, they ask, hasn’t it since got even hotter?

In response to a recent US government report on the impact of climate change, a spokesperson for the science-denying American Enterprise Institute think-tank claimed that “we just had […] the biggest drop in global temperatures that we have had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years.”

These claims are blatantly false: the past two years were two of the three hottest on record, and the drop in temperature from 2016 to 2018 was less than, say, the drop from 1998 (a previous record hot year) to 2000. But, more importantly, these claims use the same kind of misdirection as was used a few years ago about a supposed “pause” in warming lasting from roughly 1998 to 2013.

At the time, the alleged pause was cited by many people sceptical about the science of climate change as a reason not to act to redu…

Should we engineer the climate? A social scientist and natural scientist discuss

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This is an article from The Conversation's Head to Head, a series in which academics from different disciplines chew over current debates. Let us know what else you’d like covered – all questions welcome. Details of how to contact us are at the end of the article.

Rob Bellamy: 2018 has been a year of unprecedented weather extremes around the world. From the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Japan to the largest wildfire in the history of California, the frequency and intensity of such events have been made much more likely by human-induced climate change. They form part of a longer-term trend – observed in the past and projected into the future – that may soon make nations desperate enough to consider engineering the world’s climate deliberately in order to counteract the risks of climate change.

Indeed, the spectre of climate engineering hung heavily over the recent United Nations climate conference in Katowice, COP24, having featured in s…

Quality through Equality – tackling gender issues in hydrology

Results of a 1-day workshop organised by the Bristol University’s Water Engineering Group  A professor asked our group of PhD students last year, “Who here thinks of staying in academia after finishing their PhD?” Of the 10 male students present, 4 or 5 said they could imagine continuing in academia. None of the 5 female students raised their hand. When asked for their reasons for not wanting to stay in academia, some of the things mentioned were the challenge of combining family and academia, a lack of role models or different career aspirations.

This experience started the idea of organising a workshop on gender issues in hydrology, with the aim of raising awareness of unconscious biases, offer role models and discuss ideas on how to make the hydrologic community more diverse. Although the focus of the workshop was on gender diversity, most things we learned apply as well to issues related to misrepresentation of ethnic minorities or disabled scientists.

To achieve the aims mention…

Antarctica: Looking back

Back on dry land after seven-and-a-half weeks at sea, the sights of the Southern Ocean are already drifting from my mind into the whirlwind of modern life. The threats of land-sickness never materialised and the taste of fresh fruit and vegetables is everything I hoped it would be. Reflecting on a research cruise is not dissimilar to reflecting on a PhD. 
"We only remember half" Looking back can be a glorious thing. We all know the benefits that hindsight can bring. There are few things in our lives we couldn’t improve, whether they be things we said, research we carried out or ideas we had, if we got but one trial run at everything first. But looking back also gives the past a magical quality. The vividness of a blue sky intensifies, the significance of a rare sight swells and all the hardships are suppressed into one dense ball that our mind tries not to remember. The retelling of tales reconsolidates the good memories at the expense of the bad.

Of course this isn’t alway…

I won't fly to your conference, but I hope you will still invite me to participate

I was really proud to see that the University of Bristol declared a climate emergency. It was one of those moments that makes you feel part of a worthwhile institution (despite its many other flaws, like all institutions). Inspired by the exploding #Fridaysforclimate movement and the speeches of brave activist @GretaThunberg, I had been thinking about what I could personally do to contribute to the needed paradigm change. It did not take much reflection to realise that the most effective change in my professional life would clearly be to cut down travel, specially by air. And so, the University’s announcement prompted me to ‘go public’ with it.
This is great news. I take this opportunity to personally pledge to minimise conference travel, especially by air. It is tricky, but we academics need to rethink the way we organise conferences and other events #smallerco2footprintforknowledgexchangehttps://t.co/6YkJWQ9XCX — Dr Albert Sánchez-Graells (@asanchezgraells) April 17, 2019
This twee…

Bristol is Global Competition 2019 – a student response to the global food crisis

Food – not one of us would be able to live without it and crucially, this obvious fact is understated. In the global north, with fast food delivery services available at our fingertips and supermarkets stocked with shelves of tinned cans, frozen meals and fresh fruit and veg, it is unsurprisingly easy to take food for granted. In an increasingly globalised world, where much of our food travels miles across oceans and roads, it is ever more common to find ourselves alienated from the cycles and processes that start in the soil and end up at the tip of our knives and forks. Our disconnection to food is significant given that the global food industry is in a hidden environmental crisis: a crisis of social, cultural, historical, economic, political, and geographical significance. As students, we recognise that if climate demands are not met within our lifetimes: water scarcity, diseases, droughts, floods, and the acidification of oceans will impact the security of our food in irrepressib…