New ideas on climate change

Catch up with the many ways in which UCL is confronting climate change

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This article first appeared in issue 8 of Portico magazine, published November 2021.

Pole position

At the end of 2019, UCL scientists took part in a landmark Arctic research expedition aboard RV Polarstern, which was deliberately lodged into sea ice to drift past the North Pole. The MOSAiC project (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) was a year-long collaboration between 17 countries, involving more than 600 scientists, in a major international effort to better understand the fastest-changing environment on the planet.

Professor Julienne Stroeve and Dr Michel Tsamados (UCL Earth Sciences) spent two months on the vessel, investigating the depth and density of the layer of snow that covers Arctic sea ice to see if the radar technology used by satellites, such as the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2, is accurately measuring sea ice thickness from space. This satellite data is vital for monitoring how global warming is affecting the density of the Arctic sea-ice mass.
Find out more about the landmark Arctic research expedition

This article first appeared in issue 8 of Portico magazine, published November 2021.

Pole position

At the end of 2019, UCL scientists took part in a landmark Arctic research expedition aboard RV Polarstern, which was deliberately lodged into sea ice to drift past the North Pole. The MOSAiC project (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) was a year-long collaboration between 17 countries, involving more than 600 scientists, in a major international effort to better understand the fastest-changing environment on the planet.

Professor Julienne Stroeve and Dr Michel Tsamados (UCL Earth Sciences) spent two months on the vessel, investigating the depth and density of the layer of snow that covers Arctic sea ice to see if the radar technology used by satellites, such as the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2, is accurately measuring sea ice thickness from space. This satellite data is vital for monitoring how global warming is affecting the density of the Arctic sea-ice mass.
Find out more about the landmark Arctic research expedition

This article first appeared in issue 8 of Portico magazine, published November 2021.

Pole position

At the end of 2019, UCL scientists took part in a landmark Arctic research expedition aboard RV Polarstern, which was deliberately lodged into sea ice to drift past the North Pole. The MOSAiC project (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) was a year-long collaboration between 17 countries, involving more than 600 scientists, in a major international effort to better understand the fastest-changing environment on the planet.

Professor Julienne Stroeve and Dr Michel Tsamados (UCL Earth Sciences) spent two months on the vessel, investigating the depth and density of the layer of snow that covers Arctic sea ice to see if the radar technology used by satellites, such as the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2, is accurately measuring sea ice thickness from space. This satellite data is vital for monitoring how global warming is affecting the density of the Arctic sea-ice mass.
Find out more about the landmark Arctic research expedition

Intelligent energy

UCL’s new Energy Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab (ESAIL) focuses on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) methods to solve problems in the energy sector. ESAIL aims to deploy the most cutting-edge algorithms and AI techniques to find ways of reducing energy consumption, increasing the stability of power grids to support increased penetration of renewables, and making intelligent use of resources.
Read more about the Energy Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Intelligent energy

UCL’s new Energy Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab (ESAIL) focuses on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) methods to solve problems in the energy sector. ESAIL aims to deploy the most cutting-edge algorithms and AI techniques to find ways of reducing energy consumption, increasing the stability of power grids to support increased penetration of renewables, and making intelligent use of resources.
Read more about the Energy Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Intelligent energy

UCL’s new Energy Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab (ESAIL) focuses on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) methods to solve problems in the energy sector. ESAIL aims to deploy the most cutting-edge algorithms and AI techniques to find ways of reducing energy consumption, increasing the stability of power grids to support increased penetration of renewables, and making intelligent use of resources.
Read more about the Energy Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Illustration showing a person using an iPad

A silver lining

Researchers at UCL and Newcastle University have developed a new class of self-forming membrane to separate carbon dioxide from a mixture of gases. Operating like a coffee filter, it allows harmless gases, such as nitrogen, to exit into the atmosphere, and the carbon dioxide to be processed separately. By growing the expensive part of the membrane – made from silver – during operation, they dramatically reduce the demand for silver and the cost of the membrane. The team believe that the system may be applicable for use in carbon dioxide separation processes, either to protect the environment or in reaction engineering.
Discover more about the new material engineered to capture emissions

A silver lining

Researchers at UCL and Newcastle University have developed a new class of self-forming membrane to separate carbon dioxide from a mixture of gases. Operating like a coffee filter, it allows harmless gases, such as nitrogen, to exit into the atmosphere, and the carbon dioxide to be processed separately. By growing the expensive part of the membrane – made from silver – during operation, they dramatically reduce the demand for silver and the cost of the membrane. The team believe that the system may be applicable for use in carbon dioxide separation processes, either to protect the environment or in reaction engineering.
Discover more about the new material engineered to capture emissions

A silver lining

Researchers at UCL and Newcastle University have developed a new class of self-forming membrane to separate carbon dioxide from a mixture of gases. Operating like a coffee filter, it allows harmless gases, such as nitrogen, to exit into the atmosphere, and the carbon dioxide to be processed separately. By growing the expensive part of the membrane – made from silver – during operation, they dramatically reduce the demand for silver and the cost of the membrane. The team believe that the system may be applicable for use in carbon dioxide separation processes, either to protect the environment or in reaction engineering.
Discover more about the new material engineered to capture emissions

Two sky scraper with plants and trees covering the outside to help create a greener environment

Sustainable building

The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management is now called The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction. The renaming emphasises the importance that sustainable construction practices will have in the low-carbon transition to net zero. This will also be reflected in the school’s curriculum, educating students about embedded carbon and lifecycle assessment modelling, and sustainable materials and structures. It also looks at the role of circular economies in addressing the industry’s long-standing problems with solid waste, energy consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions (especially over the supply chain) and air pollution. In addition, the school is advocating for a sustainable future for the construction industry and a sustainable vision for the outputs of construction, including housing, commercial property and infrastructure.
Read more about The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction

Climate report

UCL experts have contributed to a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, which assesses the physical science behind the climate emergency, highlights that changes have already been observed in every region of the globe and across the entire climate system – including the atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes and land – many of which are unprecedented. It also highlights that limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or 2°C will be impossible without immediate, rapid and large-scale action to reduce levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions.

Dr Chris Brierley (UCL Geography), a contributor to Chapter 3, ‘Human Influence on the Climate System’, said: “It’s now more important than ever that we both adapt to the climatic changes we’re already experiencing and rapidly put new systems in place that mean we can stop burning fossil fuels, which are the key cause of this warming.” PhD student Anni Zhao (also UCL Geography) contributed to Chapter 3 as well, stating: “We found that human influence is clearly linked to changes in global sea-level rise, ocean heat content and subsurface ocean salinity, as well as changes in rainfall, snow cover and atmospheric circulation.”
Read more about the IPCC report

Sustainable building

The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management is now called The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction. The renaming emphasises the importance that sustainable construction practices will have in the low-carbon transition to net zero. This will also be reflected in the school’s curriculum, educating students about embedded carbon and lifecycle assessment modelling, and sustainable materials and structures. It also looks at the role of circular economies in addressing the industry’s long-standing problems with solid waste, energy consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions (especially over the supply chain) and air pollution. In addition, the school is advocating for a sustainable future for the construction industry and a sustainable vision for the outputs of construction, including housing, commercial property and infrastructure.
Read more about The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction

Climate report

UCL experts have contributed to a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, which assesses the physical science behind the climate emergency, highlights that changes have already been observed in every region of the globe and across the entire climate system – including the atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes and land – many of which are unprecedented. It also highlights that limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or 2°C will be impossible without immediate, rapid and large-scale action to reduce levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions.

Dr Chris Brierley (UCL Geography), a contributor to Chapter 3, ‘Human Influence on the Climate System’, said: “It’s now more important than ever that we both adapt to the climatic changes we’re already experiencing and rapidly put new systems in place that mean we can stop burning fossil fuels, which are the key cause of this warming.” PhD student Anni Zhao (also UCL Geography) contributed to Chapter 3 as well, stating: “We found that human influence is clearly linked to changes in global sea-level rise, ocean heat content and subsurface ocean salinity, as well as changes in rainfall, snow cover and atmospheric circulation.”
Read more about the IPCC report

Sustainable building

The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management is now called The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction. The renaming emphasises the importance that sustainable construction practices will have in the low-carbon transition to net zero. This will also be reflected in the school’s curriculum, educating students about embedded carbon and lifecycle assessment modelling, and sustainable materials and structures. It also looks at the role of circular economies in addressing the industry’s long-standing problems with solid waste, energy consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions (especially over the supply chain) and air pollution. In addition, the school is advocating for a sustainable future for the construction industry and a sustainable vision for the outputs of construction, including housing, commercial property and infrastructure.
Read more about The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction

Climate report

UCL experts have contributed to a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, which assesses the physical science behind the climate emergency, highlights that changes have already been observed in every region of the globe and across the entire climate system – including the atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes and land – many of which are unprecedented. It also highlights that limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or 2°C will be impossible without immediate, rapid and large-scale action to reduce levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions.

Dr Chris Brierley (UCL Geography), a contributor to Chapter 3, ‘Human Influence on the Climate System’, said: “It’s now more important than ever that we both adapt to the climatic changes we’re already experiencing and rapidly put new systems in place that mean we can stop burning fossil fuels, which are the key cause of this warming.” PhD student Anni Zhao (also UCL Geography) contributed to Chapter 3 as well, stating: “We found that human influence is clearly linked to changes in global sea-level rise, ocean heat content and subsurface ocean salinity, as well as changes in rainfall, snow cover and atmospheric circulation.”
Read more about the IPCC report

Streets ahead

Looking at data for every street in Greater London, UCL researchers have found that one-sixth of streets were wide enough to implement a 2.2-metre cycle lane in each direction, while still allowing room for cars and other vehicles. If these 2,357km of new lanes were installed, it would lead to an eightfold increase of protected cycle routes in London, from the current level of under 2% of all London streets to 16%.

Streets ahead

Looking at data for every street in Greater London, UCL researchers have found that one-sixth of streets were wide enough to implement a 2.2-metre cycle lane in each direction, while still allowing room for cars and other vehicles. If these 2,357km of new lanes were installed, it would lead to an eightfold increase of protected cycle routes in London, from the current level of under 2% of all London streets to 16%.

Streets ahead

Looking at data for every street in Greater London, UCL researchers have found that one-sixth of streets were wide enough to implement a 2.2-metre cycle lane in each direction, while still allowing room for cars and other vehicles. If these 2,357km of new lanes were installed, it would lead to an eightfold increase of protected cycle routes in London, from the current level of under 2% of all London streets to 16%.

Street Ahead New

The research was prompted by the easing of lockdown measures in 2020. Dr Ashley Dhanani (The Bartlett School of Architecture), based at the Urban Dynamics Lab, said: “Many Londoners want to cycle to avoid using public transport but are concerned about their safety when cycling on main roads. This new analysis shows there is plenty of space to create cycle lanes on key routes across the city.” An increase in journeys by bicycle would have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Learn more about pop-up cycle lanes

The research was prompted by the easing of lockdown measures in 2020. Dr Ashley Dhanani (The Bartlett School of Architecture), based at the Urban Dynamics Lab, said: “Many Londoners want to cycle to avoid using public transport but are concerned about their safety when cycling on main roads. This new analysis shows there is plenty of space to create cycle lanes on key routes across the city.” An increase in journeys by bicycle would have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Learn more about pop-up cycle lanes

The research was prompted by the easing of lockdown measures in 2020. Dr Ashley Dhanani (The Bartlett School of Architecture), based at the Urban Dynamics Lab, said: “Many Londoners want to cycle to avoid using public transport but are concerned about their safety when cycling on main roads. This new analysis shows there is plenty of space to create cycle lanes on key routes across the city.” An increase in journeys by bicycle would have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Learn more about pop-up cycle lanes

Front cover design of The Biscay Model

Value-added taxation

Researchers from the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose have been working in close partnership with the Biscay government, based in Bilbao, Spain, to establish a tax system aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a world first. The United Nations devised the goals in 2015, describing them as “a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The Biscay Model policy report lays out the design of a composite index, which would enable tax authorities in Biscay to link corporate taxation to the SDG contributions of participating firms, to drive more sustainable development.
Learn more about the Biscay Fiscal Policy

Value-added taxation

Researchers from the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose have been working in close partnership with the Biscay government, based in Bilbao, Spain, to establish a tax system aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a world first. The United Nations devised the goals in 2015, describing them as “a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The Biscay Model policy report lays out the design of a composite index, which would enable tax authorities in Biscay to link corporate taxation to the SDG contributions of participating firms, to drive more sustainable development.
Learn more about the Biscay Fiscal Policy

Value-added taxation

Researchers from the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose have been working in close partnership with the Biscay government, based in Bilbao, Spain, to establish a tax system aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a world first. The United Nations devised the goals in 2015, describing them as “a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The Biscay Model policy report lays out the design of a composite index, which would enable tax authorities in Biscay to link corporate taxation to the SDG contributions of participating firms, to drive more sustainable development.
Learn more about the Biscay Fiscal Policy

Human impact

The Anthropocene is the subject of a new initiative launched by the Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The term is used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history, when human activity started to have a significant effect on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. UCL Anthropocene aims to develop new interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the history, present state and future of humanity’s impact on the planet.
Find out more about the Anthropocene website launch

Human impact

The Anthropocene is the subject of a new initiative launched by the Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The term is used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history, when human activity started to have a significant effect on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. UCL Anthropocene aims to develop new interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the history, present state and future of humanity’s impact on the planet.
Find out more about the Anthropocene website launch

Human impact

The Anthropocene is the subject of a new initiative launched by the Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The term is used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history, when human activity started to have a significant effect on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. UCL Anthropocene aims to develop new interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the history, present state and future of humanity’s impact on the planet.
Find out more about the Anthropocene website launch

A young female farmer in Africa tending to her crops

Regenerative agriculture

The UCL Institute for Global Prosperity is committed to helping farmers across Africa regain control of their own agricultural futures. In a new report, published in collaboration with the Transforming Tomorrow Initiative, the African Assembly and the Downforce Trust, the institute argues for a radical, farmer-led transformation of African agricultural systems to reduce carbon emissions, enhance biodiversity, extend dietary diversity and reformulate markets and livelihoods. The report argues that what is needed is a replicable and scalable process where new economic systems, policies and technologies serve to encourage and reinforce farmers’ ability to augment regenerative agriculture practices on their own terms.
Learn more about Farmer Led Regenerative Agriculture for Africa

Health centred

UCL academics are leading the Lancet Countdown, which works to make sure that health is at the centre of how governments understand and respond to climate change. The project involves 35 leading academic centres and UN agencies worldwide and is supported by an executive team and Research Fellows based at UCL and its partner institutions.
Learn more about the Lancent Countdown

Leading the way to net zero

UCL students and staff have won the Green Gown award for Climate Action for the university’s #PositiveClimate campaign to become a net-zero carbon institution by 2030. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.

The pledge has also seen UCL top the University Carbon League Table, out of 519 institutions. Students Organising for Sustainability UK, the National Union of Students, the University and College Union and People & Planet created the ranking of UK university and college carbon-reduction targets to view and compare across the sectors.
Read more about UCL's zero-carbon campaign award and topping the University Carbon League Table

Regenerative agriculture

The UCL Institute for Global Prosperity is committed to helping farmers across Africa regain control of their own agricultural futures. In a new report, published in collaboration with the Transforming Tomorrow Initiative, the African Assembly and the Downforce Trust, the institute argues for a radical, farmer-led transformation of African agricultural systems to reduce carbon emissions, enhance biodiversity, extend dietary diversity and reformulate markets and livelihoods. The report argues that what is needed is a replicable and scalable process where new economic systems, policies and technologies serve to encourage and reinforce farmers’ ability to augment regenerative agriculture practices on their own terms.
Learn more about Farmer Led Regenerative Agriculture for Africa

Health centred

UCL academics are leading the Lancet Countdown, which works to make sure that health is at the centre of how governments understand and respond to climate change. The project involves 35 leading academic centres and UN agencies worldwide and is supported by an executive team and Research Fellows based at UCL and its partner institutions.
Learn more about the Lancent Countdown

Leading the way to net zero

UCL students and staff have won the Green Gown award for Climate Action for the university’s #PositiveClimate campaign to become a net-zero carbon institution by 2030. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.

The pledge has also seen UCL top the University Carbon League Table, out of 519 institutions. Students Organising for Sustainability UK, the National Union of Students, the University and College Union and People & Planet created the ranking of UK university and college carbon-reduction targets to view and compare across the sectors.
Read more about UCL's zero-carbon campaign award and topping the University Carbon League Table

Regenerative agriculture

The UCL Institute for Global Prosperity is committed to helping farmers across Africa regain control of their own agricultural futures. In a new report, published in collaboration with the Transforming Tomorrow Initiative, the African Assembly and the Downforce Trust, the institute argues for a radical, farmer-led transformation of African agricultural systems to reduce carbon emissions, enhance biodiversity, extend dietary diversity and reformulate markets and livelihoods. The report argues that what is needed is a replicable and scalable process where new economic systems, policies and technologies serve to encourage and reinforce farmers’ ability to augment regenerative agriculture practices on their own terms.
Learn more about Farmer Led Regenerative Agriculture for Africa

Health centred

UCL academics are leading the Lancet Countdown, which works to make sure that health is at the centre of how governments understand and respond to climate change. The project involves 35 leading academic centres and UN agencies worldwide and is supported by an executive team and Research Fellows based at UCL and its partner institutions.
Learn more about the Lancent Countdown

Leading the way to net zero

UCL students and staff have won the Green Gown award for Climate Action for the university’s #PositiveClimate campaign to become a net-zero carbon institution by 2030. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.

The pledge has also seen UCL top the University Carbon League Table, out of 519 institutions. Students Organising for Sustainability UK, the National Union of Students, the University and College Union and People & Planet created the ranking of UK university and college carbon-reduction targets to view and compare across the sectors.
Read more about UCL's zero-carbon campaign award and topping the University Carbon League Table

Join the hub

Be a part of our new era of climate action. At the UCL Climate Hub, launched in January 2021, we are taking responsibility and collectively acknowledging the climate emergency as something that is part of our own experience.

We are bringing together minds, perspectives and expertise across disciplines and communities to turn science into actionable ideas that will help us create a positive, fair and progressive future.
Join the Generation One campaign

Join the hub

Be a part of our new era of climate action. At the UCL Climate Hub, launched in January 2021, we are taking responsibility and collectively acknowledging the climate emergency as something that is part of our own experience.

We are bringing together minds, perspectives and expertise across disciplines and communities to turn science into actionable ideas that will help us create a positive, fair and progressive future.
Join the Generation One campaign

Join the hub

Be a part of our new era of climate action. At the UCL Climate Hub, launched in January 2021, we are taking responsibility and collectively acknowledging the climate emergency as something that is part of our own experience.

We are bringing together minds, perspectives and expertise across disciplines and communities to turn science into actionable ideas that will help us create a positive, fair and progressive future.
Join the Generation One campaign

Photograph of a butterfly leaving its cocoon

Photography Getty Images, Alamy

This article first appeared in issue 8 of Portico magazine, published November 2021.

 

Photography Getty Images, Alamy

This article first appeared in issue 8 of Portico magazine, published November 2021.

 

Photography Getty Images, Alamy

This article first appeared in issue 8 of Portico magazine, published November 2021.