Skip to main content

Cabot office weekly roundup – 13 July 2012

I was on holiday last week in Cornwall when the Met Office gave a red weather warning for rain in the South West, saying there was immediate danger to lives.   Luckily I wasn’t too affected, it just meant more indoor pursuits than outdoor but it made me think more about the extreme weather events we are seeing globally this year.  Drought and heat in the United States, stupid amounts of rain in the UK and Russia and other extreme events elsewhere, shown very well by this map published by UNEP.  And funnily enough, while I was sitting in my caravan, rain pouring down, I thought of work.  The people I work with are trying to better understand the global environment, trying to find new ways to reduce environmental risk to lives and find ways to better adapt to the changing environment.  That red weather warning made me realise the importance of the work that Cabot does.

Returning to work this week I was bombarded by news and events that we have been a part of or will be a part of in the future.  And the future is very exciting!

Lauren Gregoire
In the last couple of weeks we have had the amazing Lauren Gregoire and her team, who have found out the cause of rapid sea level change in the past, which increases our understanding of the nature of ice sheets and climate change for the future. 

Professor Paul Reid found that the rate of cloud droplet growth can be strongly dependent on the composition of the aerosol, which is really important for understanding trends in past global climate and predicting future climate change. 

Chris Deeming
Dr Chris Deeming has been awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant for a project titled 'New cultural contradictions in modern consumer societies: A political economy perspective using multilevel analysis'.  This research will help to raise public and government understanding and awareness of the impacts of consumption in modern consumer societies and will feed directly into policy.

We have had our volcanologists on the BBC’s Volcano Live series. Cabot scientists featured include Dr Jeremy Phillips and Dr Alison Rust (Earth Sciences), and Dr Adam Crewe (Civil Engineering) amongst others, and topics include Why Do Volcanoes Erupt? (Episode 1), Volcanic Hazards and Flows (Episode 2), Earthquakes and their Simulation (Episode 3), and Supervolcanoes (Episode 4).  Also prominently featured was the volcano field research of Professor Jon Blundy and his team (Earth Sciences).   

Some of our researchers have also received almost a million pounds for a study into forecasting and coping with volcanic eruptions. 

Going back to my realisations in the caravan in Cornwall, I know that the Cabot Institute is going to be doing some amazing work and will have its own realisations of global importance in the very near future. Go team Cabot!

Popular posts from this blog

Converting probabilities between time-intervals

This is the first in an irregular sequence of snippets about some of the slightly more technical aspects of uncertainty and risk assessment.  If you have a slightly more technical question, then please email me and I will try to answer it with a snippet. Suppose that an event has a probability of 0.015 (or 1.5%) of happening at least once in the next five years. Then the probability of the event happening at least once in the next year is 0.015 / 5 = 0.003 (or 0.3%), and the probability of it happening at least once in the next 20 years is 0.015 * 4 = 0.06 (or 6%). Here is the rule for scaling probabilities to different time intervals: if both probabilities (the original one and the new one) are no larger than 0.1 (or 10%), then simply multiply the original probability by the ratio of the new time-interval to the original time-interval, to find the new probability. This rule is an approximation which breaks down if either of the probabilities is greater than 0.1. For example

1-in-200 year events

You often read or hear references to the ‘1-in-200 year event’, or ‘200-year event’, or ‘event with a return period of 200 years’. Other popular horizons are 1-in-30 years and 1-in-10,000 years. This term applies to hazards which can occur over a range of magnitudes, like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, space weather, and various hydro-meteorological hazards like floods, storms, hot or cold spells, and droughts. ‘1-in-200 years’ refers to a particular magnitude. In floods this might be represented as a contour on a map, showing an area that is inundated. If this contour is labelled as ‘1-in-200 years’ this means that the current rate of floods at least as large as this is 1/200 /yr, or 0.005 /yr. So if your house is inside the contour, there is currently a 0.005 (0.5%) chance of being flooded in the next year, and a 0.025 (2.5%) chance of being flooded in the next five years. The general definition is this: ‘1-in-200 year magnitude is x’ = ‘the current rate for eve

Coconuts and climate change

Before pursuing an MSc in Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of Bristol, I completed my undergraduate studies in Environmental Science at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. During my final year I carried out a research project that explored the impact of extreme weather events on coconut productivity across the three climatic zones of Sri Lanka. A few months ago, I managed to get a paper published and I thought it would be a good idea to share my findings on this platform. Climate change and crop productivity  There has been a growing concern about the impact of extreme weather events on crop production across the globe, Sri Lanka being no exception. Coconut is becoming a rare commodity in the country, due to several reasons including the changing climate. The price hike in coconuts over the last few years is a good indication of how climate change is affecting coconut productivity across the country. Most coconut trees are no longer bearing fruits and thos