Assessing the impact of climate change on ecosystem service provision in coastal wetlands
Vegetated coastal systems are home to a diversity of native species and provide a range of ecosystem services, including protection against sea level rise and storm impacts due to climate change, sequestration of atmospheric CO2, provision of raw materials, and filtration of pollutants such as excess nutrients and microplastics. However, climate changes and anthropogenic stressors such as eutrophication are likely to alter the species composition and affect the associated ecosystem services in many coastal wetlands.
Our researchers are undertaking research in coastal habitats of international ecological importance, such as the Baltic wetlands, the seascapes of southern England, and mangrove forests in NE Brazil. They use a combination of field sampling, laboratory analysis (radionuclide dating and stable isotope analysis of soil cores) and drone/satellite mapping to evaluate the past and ongoing changes to plant communities, assess carbon sequestration, and calculate the value of carbon stored within wetlands.
These data are used to assess the capacity of these ecologically important habitats to adapt to anthropogenic pressures and to inform policy makers of key steps to mitigate the negative effects to coastal wetlands associated with climate change and anthropogenic stressors.
Linking historical hydroclimates and climate change
Documents such as diaries, letters and reports are a valuable source of historical weather records, the analysis of which could greatly improve the collective understanding of climate cycles.
Bringing together a team of experts in the environmental and climate history of southern Africa, our researchers are analysing descriptions of weather events within historical records to reconstruct climate variability in the period preceding the systematic collection of meteorological data. Archival materials are also used to understand how societies in history were impacted by weather events and how they adapted to climate variability. In formerly colonised countries, archive data can additionally unravel how patterns of response to recurring climatic extremes were influenced by the expansion and intensification of colonial power. Projects are currently focused on Mozambique, Portugal and the UK.
Working towards rapid, in-situ monitoring of steel corrosion
Affecting every industry where water meets steel (e.g. the maritime sector, ports, water purification plants, energy production, offshore renewable energy production), steel corrosion represents an often-underestimated threat to the economy.
Our researchers have developed a sensor to monitor in-situ the main environmental markers used to determine the risk of corrosion. In collaboration with the Antwerp Maritime Academy (AMA), the set-up will be tested through a range of industrial case studies (e.g., at wind turbines, water desalination plants and ship’s hulls/ballast tanks) at sites across Europe and the UK.
The continuous measurement of corrosion risk markers will be further enhanced by the use of a newly developed statistical package (SOCORRO). As such, this project will help to implement targeted preventative and remedial measures against steel corrosion across several economically important industrial sectors.