'To be truly sustainable, solutions to the immense challenges we face in ensuring Enough, For All, Forever for the planet’s terrestrial and freshwater systems must be rooted in both inter-disciplinary science and indigenous knowledge.'
Everyone in the world depends completely on Earth’s ecosystems and the services they provide. Over the past 100 years we have altered these ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history - without equally benefitting all regions and groups of people. The impacts of this ‘progress’ have been severe on ecosystems, the animals and plants they sustain - and which, in turn, sustain us. In terms of sustainable futures we now face a number of urgent challenges. These challenges are intrinsically linked and include water resources, climate change and alteration of carbon dynamics, biodiversity loss, increase in the severity of natural hazards and changes to global life support systems.
At Newcastle we work on the challenge of compiling a compelling economics case for conservation of biodiversity. We are experts in the effects of land use change impacts and on how climate change and species invasion are key drivers of biodiversity loss.
This is at the centre of current scientific concern and exacerbates all other sustainability issues. At Newcastle University, we are working on the next generation of climate models, as well as having expertise in setting the long-term climate context to actually allow us to define what constitutes ‘change’ from the long term trend. Our research in areas like carbon sequestration gives us increasing knowledge of natural variability as well as the ability to quantify change in different parts of the world.
Global Support Systems:
Our expertise covers a wide range of systems – the atmosphere, deep Earth tectonics, snow, ice and permafrost and freshwater systems. We are experts on cold environment research and in understanding interconnections between ocean circulation, sea level and climate change.
In 2010, natural disasters killed 295,000 people around the world with economic losses between 1991 and 2005 totalling $1 trillion. We work on the interaction between tectonics and geohazards, building better monitoring networks to enable better forecasting and our research is aimed at increasing the knowledge of the geological processes responsible for events like earthquakes and tsunamis.
Sustainable Natural Resources:
The Rio+20 meeting of Heads of State next year will be the twentieth anniversary of the first ever Earth Summit and will be a landmark event demonstrating the world’s progress in terms of sustainable solutions. Through our involvement in the Global Sustainability Forum via the Planet Earth Institute, NIReS has a unique opportunity to showcase Newcastle University’s world leading research into sustainable solutions relating to terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
Our research focuses on protecting ecosystem integrity via sustainable water resource management, developing integrated quantitative understanding of changes in the global water cycle, improving predictions of precipitation, hydrological storage and flows and was as developing approaches to valuing water in the light of its different economic, social, environmental and cultural importance. We also emphasise the impact of climate change on this precious resource.
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