Tagged / climate change

My Science – what the committee may investigate

The Science and Technology Committee heard suggestions for areas of inquiry that could be undertaken by the committee. Below are the ideas that were pitched to the Committee for further investigation.  (more…)

Sustainable Seas

Colleagues with an interest in the sustainability of the seas may be interested in this summary of an Environmental Audit Committee Sustainable Seas session.

Click this link to read the summary. The summary has been provided by Dods political monitoring consultants and is only available to BU staff and student readers.

Alternatively you can view the session on Parliament TV here.

Victorian pleasure piers are unique to Britain, but they are under threat

File 20180618 85819 1086tff.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Edmond Holland/Shutterstock.com

 

By Dr Anya Chapman, Bournemouth University.

A stroll along a pier remains the most popular activity for visitors to the British seaside, with 70% of them enjoying a walk over the waves.

For many, the seaside pier is perhaps the most iconic symbol of the British seaside holiday and the epitome of excursions to the coast. Piers have always provided holidaymakers with entertainment, from the grand pavilions and theatres of the Victorian era, to the amusement arcades of the 1980s. For two centuries, piers have been the place to see and be seen at the seaside.

Victorian pleasure piers are unique to the UK, but they are under threat: in the early 20th century nearly 100 piers graced the UK coastline, but almost half of of these have now gone.

By their very nature, seaside piers are risky structures. When piers were constructed, British seaside resorts were at the height of their popularity. The Victorians wanted to demonstrate engineering prowess and their ability to master the force of the sea. Some lasted longer than others, with Aldeburgh pier in Suffolk lasting just less than a decade before it was swept away by a drifting vessel. At the other end of the spectrum is the Isle of Wight’s Ryde pier, which at over 200 years is the oldest pleasure pier in the UK.

Yet the longevity of such piers presents them with new risks: fire, maintenance issues, rising costs, and climate change. Piers face an uncertain future. The National Piers Society estimates that 20% of today’s piers are at risk of being lost.

Piers at risk

Over the last 40 years, many notable piers have succumbed to time and tide. Perhaps the most iconic of these losses is Brighton West Pier, which has suffered multiple storms and fires since closure in 1975, leaving an isolated skeleton as a haunting reminder. Now there is growing recognition that seaside piers are vital to coastal communities in terms of resort identity, heritage, employment, community pride, and tourism. In fact, the UK government now offers funding to enable the revival of piers and other seaside heritage.

Brighton West Pier. National Piers Society

Despite the sea change in the perceived importance of seaside piers, many remain derelict and in a state of decay. One such pier is Weston-Super-Mare’s Birnbeck Pier, on the west coast, which has been closed for over three decades. Birnbeck Pier is unusual in that it is the only pier which links to an island, but as time has passed, parts of the structure have crumbled into the sea. Despite the endeavours of the local community and groups such as The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, the owner of the pier refuses to sell or regenerate the pier.

This is in stark contrast to nearby Clevedon Pier, which was deemed “the most beautiful pier in England” by the poet Sir John Betjeman. After partial collapse and subsequent closure of the pier in 1970 there were calls for its demolition. Clevedon Pier was saved and reopened in 1998, and is now the UK’s only Grade I listed seaside pier. Today it stands as a testament to The Clevedon Pier Heritage Trust who continue to develop the pier with a new visitor centre, wedding venue, and conferencing space. Recently, the pier gained a new group of fans as it featured as a backdrop to a One Direction music video.

Thriving piers

Despite their advancing years, since the turn of the 21st century many piers have found a new lease of life. The high-profile regeneration of Hastings Pier, led by a local community trust and backed by Heritage Lottery Funding, has spearheaded the revitalisation of many seaside piers (although the pier, controversially, was recently sold to a commercial investor). Nevertheless, a number of coastal communities have successfully regenerated their piers through the formation of pier trusts, including those at Swanage and Herne Bay. Other seaside towns are being even more ambitious and hoping to rebuild their piers or to build brand new piers.

Swanage Pier. National Piers Society

Local authorities within seaside resorts are also promoting their piers as flagship tourist attractions and investing in their refurbishment and new facilities. Southport Pier, which narrowly escaped demolition during the 1990s, is now at the heart of the resort’s development strategy and is currently undergoing a £2.9m refurbishment which includes the addition of new catering and retail facilities.

The piers that are thriving in the 21st century are those that provide a unique selling point. Bournemouth Pier now features the only pier-to-beach zip line, and its former theatre now houses adrenaline-packed activities such as climbing walls, an aerial assault course, and a vertical drop slide. In Folkestone, the Harbour Arm, which was redeveloped as a pleasure pier in 2016, provides a range of pop-up bars and restaurants and its very own champagne bar. Weston’s Grand Pier offers family fun with a modern twist and even boasts an indoor suspended go-kart track. Southwold Pier boasts a novelty automaton arcade.

Weston-Super Mare Grand Pier. National Piers Society

By staying tuned to modern desires as well as a sense of nostalgia, piers will continue to adapt to changing tastes and provide entertainment and pleasure for seaside visitors.

But perhaps the biggest threat they face today is climate change, and the attendant rising sea levels and increasingly frequent storm surges. Cromer, Saltburn, and Blackpool North Pier have all recently been significantly damaged by storms. The World Monuments Fund has recognised the threat of extreme weather events to seaside piers by adding Blackpool’s three piers to their 2018 Watch List. With seaside piers regaining their popularity, their next big challenge will literally be finding a way to weather the storm.


Anya Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Upcoming BNSS Lecture – The Coral Reef: a threatened world wonder

The Bournemouth Natural Science Society (BNSS) will be hosting a lecture next Tuesday with Professor Jörg Wiedenmann on coral reefs.

Event date: 15th May 2018 at: 7.30pm

About: Professor Jörg Wiedenmann is Professor of Biological Oceanography, within Ocean and Earth Science, at the University of Southampton and Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory at the National Oceanographic Centre.

Professor Wiedenmann will be talking about the ecology of coral reefs and the impact of climate change, as well as discussing his research on their photobiology and the use of coral pigments in biomedical research and the pharmaceutical industry.

FoL event A conversation about Climate Change

climateChangePippa Gillingham, John Stewart, Andy Ford, Einar Thorsen and Shelley Thompson led a lively ‘conversation’ about climate change in a well-attended event on Tuesday.  The audience led the discussion and there were many topics covered.

These focused on how some species are effected, how and when the media engage with the subject, and what impact do scientists have in reporting on climate change.  Pippa described how species move out of protected areas and what impact that has. Einar asked how do you connect ordinary people with the research taking place.  Andy explained that humans strive to increase quality of life but there is a disconnect from the consequences of ones actions.  Shelley added that we are exceptional at rationalising our behaviour.  John debated with the audience the role of the academic in remaining impartial and being a describer, an observer and being objective.

Other events that may interest you are ‘Recycling cooking oil’ at 12.30pm and ‘Earthenders: A global soap opera’ at 6pm both on Wednesday.

Stepping stones to the north: ‘citizen science’ reveals that protected areas allow wildlife to spread in response to climate change

Pippa Gillingham from the School of Applied Sciences has co-authored a new study, led by scientists at the University of York, which has shown how birds, butterflies, other insects and spiders have colonised nature reserves and areas protected for wildlife, as they move north in response to climate change and other environmental changes.

Adonis blues can only colonise new sites which already contain horse-shoe vetch, the plant species that their caterpillars eat.  These plants are restricted to grassland on chalk and limestone, most of which have been converted into agricultural crops; by S. J. Marshall (http://www.flickr.com/photos/16155010@N04/)

The study of over 250 species is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS). The conclusions were based on the analysis of millions of records of wildlife species sent in predominantly by members of the public.

The work represents a major new discovery involving collaborators in universities, research institutes, conservation charities, and regional and national government but – crucially – fuelled by ‘citizen science’.

Many species need to spread towards the poles where conditions remain cool enough for them to survive climate warming. But doing this is complicated because many landscapes across the world are dominated by human agriculture and development, which form barriers to the movement of species.  The mainstay of traditional conservation has been to establish protected areas and nature reserves to provide refuges against the loss of habitats and other threats in the surrounding countryside. 

But this method of nature conservation has been questioned in recent years, partly because of continuing degradation of habitats in reserves in some parts of the world.  Increasingly, however, the value of protected areas is being question because climate change is taking place – wildlife sites stay where they are while animal species move in response to changing conditions.

However, the new research shows that protected areas are the places that most animal species colonise as they spread into new regions. “Protected areas are like stepping stones across the landscape, allowing species to set up a succession of new breeding populations as they move northwards,” said lead author Professor Chris Thomas, of the University of York.

Co-author Dr Phillipa Gillingham, now a Lecturer in the School of Applied Sciences at Bournemouth University, calculated that species are on average around four times more likely to colonise nature reserves than might be expected.  “For the seven focal species of birds and butterflies that we studied in greatest detail, 40% of new colonisations occurred in the mere 8.4 per cent of the land that was protected,” she said.  “Similar patterns were observed among more than 250 invertebrate species.”

But the study showed that species vary greatly in how much they need reserves.

“Some species, such as the Dartford Warbler and Silver-Spotted Skipper butterfly, are largely confined to nature reserves,” said Dr David Roy, of the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. “Whereas others like the Nightjar and Stone Curlew are less dependent on these sites.” 

Dr Richard Bradbury, of the RSPB, said: “Sites of importance for wildlife stand out like beacons in otherwise impoverished landscapes. This study shows that the hugely important role they play now will continue undiminished in the future. Protecting these arks, as well as restoring and re-creating new ones where we can, will provide the vital network enabling more species to survive the spectre of climate change.”

 “This study is a great example of how volunteer recorders and national monitoring schemes together provide the information to answer key conservation questions of global importance, such as how we can help wildlife cope with climate change,” said James Pearce-Higgins of the British Trust for Ornithology. “Only through the dedicated effort of so many people can we undertake the scale of long-term monitoring required.”

Migration and Climate Change

The Migration and Global Environmental Change Report (commisioned by government) has been published today. The report warns of the serious implications of climate change for the world’s poorest people, who will be forced to migrate away from sterile land. The report suggests that migration will need to be managed – which is in itself controversial because migration is usually seen as a bad thing by aid agencies. Further, unless carefully managed, migration often gives rise to unrest and conflict, particularly where the migrants either impose an extra burden or are unwelcome by those living in the areas to which they migrate. Some difficult issues will need to be planned for – unfortunately such issues are often low down the priority in terms of planning .

The report can be accessed at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight

 

Funding for Environmental Research

Foundation for Research of Natural Resources in Finland: Grants for Environmental Research: These grants are open to research groups involving talented young researchers for projects promoting the sustainable utilisation of Finnish natural resources. In 2011 the majority of the grants were worth between €30,000 and €50,000. Deadline 30.09.11

European Science Foundation Short Visit & Exchange Grants for Climate Change: These grants are for short visit and exchange grants related to climate change manipulation experiments/ Exchange grants are supported with a weekly subsistence allowance of €400 for up to six weeks, plus travel expenses to a maximum of €500. Short visit grants are to last for up to 15 days and are reimbursed on a per diem basis of €85 plus travel expenses to a maximum of €500. Deadline 01.10.11

EU Call for Tenders: climate, food, computing

EU Economy-Wide Climate Change Mitigation Modelling Capacity
The European Commission, Directorate-General for Climate Action, has published a call for tenders for the development and application of EU economy-wide climate change mitigation modelling capacity (all greenhouse gas emissions and removals).

Re-Evaluation of Food Additives Permitted in the European Union
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a call for tenders for the provision of draft preparatory documents, including toxicological and non-toxicological data, to support the preparatory work for the re-evaluation of food additives permitted in the European Union.
The aim is to draw up a list of framework contractors who will be invited to enter specific competitions in the future which will entail drafting preparatory documents, including toxicological and non-toxicological data, to support the preparatory work for the re-evaluation of food additives permitted in the European Union.

Quantitative Estimates of the Demand for Cloud Computing in Europe
The European Commission, Information Society and Media DG, has published a call for tenders for the provision of quantitative estimates of the demand for cloud computing in Europe and the likely barriers to take-up.
The aim of this call for tender is to provide a quantitative assessment of the sectors which are potentially the most likely to adopt cloud computing and a qualitative assessment of the factors they are likely to perceive as the most significant policy or technical barriers.

Not yet signed up for UKRO alerts? See our former blog-post on how to do this.