Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Joint WMO-SECC Conference, Orlando, Florida

I'm just back from a fascinating joint conference in sunny Florida.

This was a joint meeting between the US South East Climate Consortium (SECC is a group of universities and parties interested in helping agriculture adapt to climate change), and a World Meterological Organisation Implementation/Coordination Team (WMO ICT). The WMO ICT is focused on how climate change and variability could impact natural disasters in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

SECC is a great model of working with the industry to provide quality scientific advice and information -see for example their AgroClimate webpage

There were some excellent keynote talks and posters covering climate science capabilities, key impacts findings, and outreach and decision support. There was also a fascinating visit to the Citrus Research and Education Centre. Citrus growers in Florida face a different water quality challenge to many farmers in the UK - the soils are >90% sand and as a result, nitrogen is almost completely supplied by fertiliser. This means that protecting groundwater from leaching is a key priority.

Proceedings will be published as a USDA special report in the near future.




Citrus research and education centre

Friday, 14 November 2008

How good are global river flow predictions?

We recently highlighted findings on changes in future river flows predicted in a General Circulation Model (GCM). A key aspect of any predictions of future climate impacts is the skill and confidence with which they can be applied.

Recent work has investigated how river flow predictions in the Met Office Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model (HadGEM1) compare to flow gauge measurements around the world. These generally showed surprisingly good skill, given the limitations of coarse resolution and the driving GCM climate, rather than observed climate.

There is more work to be done to understand the detail - such as whether errors result from the river flow model itself, or mostly from the hydrology supplied to the model.

In addition to uncertainties in predicting observed changes, there are a number of sources of uncertainty in climate predictions which need to be addressed. With a better understanding of these uncertainties, it should be possible to develop nearer term predictions of impacts relevant to water and agriculture.

Friday, 8 August 2008

International Conference - Climate change impacts and adaptation: Dangerous rates of change

Notification of the International Conference - Climate change impacts and adaptation: Dangerous rates of change

Notification of the International Conference - Climate change impacts and adaptation: Dangerous rates of change

We would like to invite you to participate in a major international conference, Climate change impacts and adaptation: Dangerous rates of change, being held at the University of Exeter on the 22-24th September.

The conference will discuss the evolving impacts of climate change and the issues of adaptation in a time of ongoing change.

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers will include:

Dr Myles Allen - Head of the Climate Dynamics group at University of Oxford's Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics Department.
Professor Kevin Anderson - Research Director of Tyndall-Manchester Energy and Climate Change programme.
Dr Yadvinder Malhi - Professor of Ecosystem Science, Oxford University Centre for the Environment.
Professor Neil Adger - Professor in Environmental Economics, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, University of East Anglia.
Dr Pierre Friedlingstein - CNRS Senior scientist at Institut Pierre Simon-Laplace/Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (IPSL/LSCE).
Dr Hermann Held - Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Conference Topics

Conference Topics

We are inviting papers on the following topics:

  • Improving predictions of climate change
  • Climate change impacts on ecosystem services
  • Climate change impacts on human and animal health
  • Technology for adaptation and mitigation
  • Applying earth observation to detect climate change impacts
  • Policy responses and behavioural change
  • Socio-economic scenarios and public understanding
  • Coupled human-environment system

Submit an abstract

Abstracts must be submitted by Monday 16 June and you will be notified if you are successful from Monday 21 July. Details for the submission of Abstracts for Papers can be found on our website.

For more information and to register

For more information and to register

Visit our website for information on the conference.

The delegate registration fee will be £200 (postgraduate students £100) and registration will close on Monday 1 September. You can register for the conference on our website.

We look forward to seeing you in September.

Professor Peter Cox

Professor Peter Cox
Professor of Climate System Dynamics, University of Exeter.

Dr Richard Betts

Dr Richard Betts
Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Cracking Clays....

Originally uploaded by wq0109
Yesterday was the steering group meeting for Defra's 'Cracking Clays' project WQ0118, involving ADAS, North Wyke Research and a modest slice of myself from Lancaster University. It is worth mentioning this project because it provides a substantive platform for studying the effects of - well - cracking clays - on water quality, in view of pressure to return manaure to land in line with NVZ guidelines. A full and quality first 12 month data set was shown for N, P and FIOs and for more information I urge you to contact main players Brian Chambers at ADAS or David Chadwick at North Wyke Research. Photos of the field excursion on Rowden can also be viewed here. Phil

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Challenges of training graduate students in interdisciplinary science

Brian Vastag (Nature) reports on the large increase in interdisciplinary projects and initiatives and highlights the challenges for graduate students. Graduate students are increasingly creating the 'bridges' between disciplines but their efforts may not be fully recognized when it comes to promotion and even-handed interdisciplinary peer review among funding bodies.

Calls for massive investment in computer and research capabilities

A four-day summit was held last week at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, the scientists made the case for a climate-prediction project that would increase current computer capacity by 10,000 times. This is required to meet the finer resolution predictions required by policy makers (Reported in Nature, 15th May 2008).

Monday, 28 April 2008

Commentary in Nature: Europe's research system must change

Science funding in the European Union needs to be revised to better serve economic, social and environmental goals, Luke Georghiou in Nature argues that there needs to be greater levels of trans-national coordination in European approaches to tackling a small number of policy relevant 'grand challenges'. Improved linkages between policy makers and the organization and science of the Framework programmes and ERA-Nets is required.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Nature Editorial: The path to productive partnerships

Last week's editorial in Nature highlighted the need for institutions e.g. funding bodies to help scientists work more effectively together. Financial incentives on their own do not form effective teams. There needs to be guidelines and agreements from day one on how these teams operate. Rather than expecting scientists to (re-)invent the rules, institutions need to provide this support.

Friday, 4 April 2008

To blog or not to blog?

COMMENTARY In Nature Geoscience 'To blog or not to blog?'
Scientists know much more about their field than is ever published in peer-reviewed journals. Blogs can be a good medium with which to disseminate this tacit knowledge.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Defra: Consultation on the draft Soil Strategy for England

Defra are inviting your views on the draft Soil Strategy for England. The purpose of the document is to provide a sound framework for policy making and delivery with the aim of ensuring the sustainable management of England’s soils. This is an important opportunity to influence soils policy and future research in England. The deadline for responses is 23 June 2008.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Workshop on Agriculture, Water Management and Climate Change

We have returned from a very productive international workshop in Bath with 70 leading on areas of science, management and policy ranging from sociology to water resources. We worked hard to stick to a workshop style meeting; the picture above is from a rich picturing activity led by Kevin Collins from the Open University. Summaries from the activities will be available shortly. I just hope that the participants remember more than just the delights of the Roman Baths!

Friday, 29 February 2008

A date for your diaries…

BHS National Meeting

Surface water quality:
modelling, monitoring and management
* Wednesday 7 May 2008 *

The University of Birmingham

Water quality is key to a full understanding and management of water resources. The aim of this meeting is to identify recent exciting advances in monitoring and modelling surface water quality dynamics and processes, and evaluate their importance for water management. This forward-looking meeting will encourage dialogue between the ‘3Ms’ - modelling, monitoring and management - to identify, for example, mismatches in spatial and temporal resolution of datasets, models, scales of enquiry and process understanding in water quality, and promote discussion of future research, instrumentation and management needs. Questions will include: Are techniques and monitoring networks adequate for future challenges, and for quantifying environmental change impacts on water quality? What is the potential of newly-emergent methodologies? How strong are the models? Where should future work be directed? This meeting is especially timely, given that we are now halfway towards the Water Framework Directive (2000) target date of 2015 for inland and coastal waters to reach good ecological status. So please see this important meeting as a half-time ‘team talk’!

Sessions will be led by keynote speakers, including Tim Burt (Durham), Roger Falconer (Cardiff), Bob Harris (formerly EA, now Sheffield), Louise Heathwaite (Lancaster), Gilles Pinay (Birmingham) and Tony Warn (EA), to address some of the key issues above, including Integrated Catchment Management, monitoring, modeling and necessary action to meet water quality standards, surface water quality case studies, and future prospects.

Call for Papers and Posters: There will be time also for some submitted oral and poster presentations. If you would like to present at this timely meeting, please email an attached 250-word Abstract in Word with full contact details and paper/poster preference, to the conveners by 7 March 2008.

Who should attend? The meeting will bring together a good mix of scientists, engineers, water managers, regulators, consultants and policy-makers from universities, research institutes, the water industry, the Environment Agency and DEFRA. The meeting will also contribute towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.
Damian Lawler, Andy Baker and Chris Bradley
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK (Tel: 0121 - 414 – 6935 / 5532 / 44 / 43)

Consultation on River Basin Management Plans (RBMP)

Defra have just announced their second consultation on RBMP. This document sets out the role of environmental quality standards in implementing the Water Framework Directive.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

UKCIP08: The climate of the UK and recent trends

UKCIP have recently published their first in a series of reports. This first report sets out the current climate of the UK and recent changes. The figure above shows filtered (smoothed) regional changes in annual precipitation.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Preliminary structure of IWAM March 2008 workshop

There is a large amount of interest in the workshop. We are looking forwards to a stimulating mix of great keynotes, challenging activity sessions, quality discussion and some fun along the way. Payment and confirmation of meals required by 15th February.

Article on improving scientific advice to government

In a speech this week, John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, argued that strong scientific advice is crucial for government, and that systems must be in place to give more recognition to researchers who provide expertise to policy makers.

Friday, 11 January 2008

10th British Hydrological Society Symposium

The 10th British Hydrological Society Symposium has been announced, which includes a session on water quality. See below for more information:

The symposium will take place from 15th until 17th September at the University of Exeter.
The theme for this Symposium is: 'Sustainable Hydrology for the 21st Century'.
The sub-themes are:
Water Resources
Flood Risk Management
Climate change and Water
Urban Water
Ungauged Catchments
Water Quality
Abstracts (up to 150 words) should be sent by 15 January 2008 to
Please indicate which sub-theme the abstract is for and provide the details of the author(s) name, title, affiliation and qualifications and whether the abstract is to be considered for inclusion as a paper or as a poster presentation.
Sponsorship packages are available and the symposium provides an excellent opportunity for employers to meet and talk to students and
others working in hydrology.
Contact:Dr Soon-Thiam Khu
Please visit us at <> for the latest information and to register your interest.
We invite you to come and celebrate 25 years of BHS with us in Exeter!
BHS 2008 Conference Office
Centre for Water Systems
Room 182, Harrison Building
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
University of Exeter
North Park Road
Telephone: 01392-263732 <>

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Professor David Scholefield retires

Originally uploaded by wq0109
At the end of 2007 David retired from his long term career at IGER and North Wyke. David was an inspirational and substantive scientist and amongst other things his work helped us understand and prevent nitrate leaching from agricultural land. Here are some photos of David's retirement seminar and party held earlier in December. Phil.