At the University of Exeter, we are working in partnership with organisations, governments and local communities to take action – using our expertise to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate emergency that are already with us.
Our research spans ecosystems – finding ways to preserve and revitalise habitats that are already suffering the consequences of a warmer planet. We are at the forefront of efforts to protect coral reefs, which are under existential threat from ocean temperature changes and rising sea levels. We have introduced an innovative open-access tool to standardise the monitoring of carbon budgets that is being used in biogeographic realms where reefs form across the world. Our research has also brought about changes in legislation to further protect these fragile yet vital ecosystems.
On land, the University is leading work in Indonesia to inform agricultural policy and practices to reduce the extent and impact of wildfires which are worsened by climate change and deforestation. University of Exeter researchers are helping to unravel the problem and are working with local communities to combine economic development with the restoration of the ecosystems. Elsewhere, the University is discovering new species including as recently as this year in Peru and Bolivia – developing an understanding of the role they play in the local ecosystem and how they are being affected by habitat loss and responding to the effects of climate change.
Sadly, it is not only the natural world that is suffering the effects of the climate crisis. Many communities are vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and we are taking steps with our partners to protect them.
We are working closely with the UK Met Office, applying our expertise in Environmental Intelligence to analyse huge amounts of data to more accurately predict extreme weather events that can have a devastating impact such as flooding.
Our researchers developed CAFlood – a cellular automation flood simulation model that assesses the risk of flooding significantly faster than conventional approaches to help build resilience and protect local communities and is now being used globally. This timely, high-resolution flood risk analysis helped to prevent millions of pounds of potential damage in Torbay, UK and has also helped to protect 2.6 million people in Taipei.
Agriculture is a sector that is under significant threat because of climate change. Our researchers have found that crop farmers in higher latitudes (further from the equator) – including major crop-producing nations – can expect a greater risk from crop disease as a consequence of changes to global temperatures and this will have a substantial impact in future decades, requiring greater investment in crop protection. These findings pave the way for interventions to mitigate this damage and stimulate further research into these specific pathogens.
Climate change is here and is affecting our health, prosperity and safety. It demands immediate action and at the University of Exeter, we are playing our part.
The University of Exeter welcomes one of the key goals of COP26 to Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.Net Zero and University of Exeter