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Showing posts from August, 2013

Geothermal workshop: accelerating the impact of research and development in East Africa

Geothermal power is a carbon free, sustainable and renewable energy source. Throughout the East African Rift, the prospect of harnessing geothermal energy is huge, with the potential to provide 15,000 megawatts of power - larger than the present-day global geothermal production.
This week, the University of Bristol, NERC and the Cabot Institute are hosting a two-day workshop that aims to strengthen the links between researchers and the geothermal industry.
UK universities have a long history of research into the volcanic and tectonic processes occurring in the East African Rift. The data being collected could help industry improve geothermal production and reduce the uncertainty and risk associated with geothermal development by understanding the interactions between magmatic and geothermal processes.
Through talks and discussion groups, the workshop will address themes of ‘Improving Productivity’ and ‘Reducing Risk’ in geothermal research and development.  The workshop will wrap up with…

Tales from the field: reconstructing past warm climates

The warmest period of the past 65 million years was the early Eocene epoch (55 to 48 million years ago). During this period, the equator-to-pole temperature gradient was reduced and atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) was in excess of 1000ppm. The early Eocene has received considerable interest because it may provide insight into the response of Earth’s climate and biosphere to the high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that are expected in the near future as a consequence of unabated anthropogenic carbon emissions (IPCC AR4). However, climatic conditions of the early Eocene ‘greenhouse world’, are poorly constrained, particularly in mid-to-low latitude terrestrial environments (Huber and Caballero, 2011).

I recently spent a week in eastern Germany (Schoeningen, Lower Saxony) sampling an early Eocene lignite seam (Fig. 1). Lignite is a type of soft brown coal that is an excellent terrestrial climate archive. Using palynology, organic geochemistry, coal petrography and climate models, we…

A new green revolution for agri-tech?

“A world food crisis can be expected in the coming decades as our demand for food outstrips our ability to produce it.”  This was the ominous forecast in 2008 by Sir John Beddington, then chief science adviser to the UK government, and now Chair of the Cabot Institute External Advisory Board. In a bid to avoid such a catastrophe, the UK Government has introduced its new Agricultural Technologies Strategy, which it hopes will put Great Britain at the centre of a new ‘green revolution’. Recent advances in technology such as the growing field of genomics present scientists with novel opportunities for innovation in crops and farming. Cabot Institute member, Prof. Keith Edwards at the University of Bristol researches how the genomes of different kinds of wheat diverge in the hope of finding out what makes some more productive than others. These new scientific developments and emerging challenges like climate change present opportunities for innovation in agriculture. As growing condition…