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You may think of climate change affecting our weather, but have you ever considered how it impacts our food supply or how forests will 'breathe' as the lungs of our planet adapt? Our experts will reveal how oceans, landscapes and extreme weather present new challenges that researchers are working hard to overcome to protect our future world.
Extreme storms and cyclones: why, how, when?
Professor Gregor Leckebusch (Professor, Chair of Meteorology and Climatology, University of Birmingham)
Severe cyclonic storms are a major feature of the mid-latitude and tropical regions of the earth. Cyclones, especially in the mid-latitudes, are a normal part of our climate, but if they get too strong, the impact can be devastating. Tropical cyclones are also a persistent feature of our climate system, and the future will continue to see them as well. How may both categories of storms change under climate change? Do we know enough to answer this question and do we have confidence in our knowledge? Will the future have a new type of storm in store for us we haven’t seen yet?
Honey, I’ve shrunk the fertiliser! Nanotechnology for future farming
Jessica Chadwick (PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham)
Food waste happens every day, right? It’s happening straight from our plates, our supermarkets and from our farms too. But there’s a different type of waste happening on farms as well - nutrient waste. Fertilisers need to be added to soils so we can produce enough food to feed our population but they’re very inefficient and the nutrients that make up fertilisers tend to be washed away. So how can we stop this nutrient waste? My research proposes using nanomaterials (very, very small particles) to deliver nutrients more efficiently, helping feed us and protect the environment along the way.
Using chromosomes to ensure food security
Dr Eugenio Sanchez-Moran (Reader in Molecular Cytogenetics, University of Birmingham)
To ensure food security is going to be one of the more important global challenges in the next few decades. An increase in population, pollution and the unpredictable changes on our climate will deliver serious challenges in food security. Different chromosome biology and genetic approaches can offer tools for plant breeders to harness the natural genetic variation available on our planet. This talk will explain some of these advances in chromosome biology and how we could use them as tools for future food supply.
Multiplying microplastics – is anywhere safe?
Grace Davies (PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham)
Plastic waste around the world is increasing, with 12 million tonnes estimated to enter the ocean every year! In the ocean, plastics endanger animals such as seals and turtles. These large pieces of plastic will never disappear from the environment. Instead, they break down into millions of smaller plastic particles – called microplastics. These microplastics are increasingly being discovered around the world, and not just in the ocean, yet we still don’t know the effects these microplastics have on plants, animals, or even humans!
Forests of the future
What happens to trees in 2050 if the atmosphere keeps changing? Our experimental forest at the University of Birmingham is designed to help us find answers. From fungus to phenocams, I explain some of the tools we use to play detective and make predictions.