Environmental Risk
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Current Projects

A multi-proxy reconstruction of Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in NE India (Manipur)

The lake itself is an ecological hotspot, and serves as a source of water for hydropower generation, irrigation and drinking water supply. It therefore acts as a source of livelihood for the rural communities and fishermen who live around the lake and on the floating phumdis (large floating mats of vegetation). Human activity has led to severe pressure on the lake ecosystem in recent decades. However, no research has been conducted on examining the possible levels of persistent pollutants in the lake.

Furthermore, due to the absence of long term monitoring at the lake, we have no knowledge of how and when these impacts were seen at the site and the impacts they are having: hence the environmental risk this poses to local populations. A baseline ecological assessment will also provide a guideline on the risk of aquaculture on the natural balance and health of the lake. In light of future environmental risks to the site, we can also use these palaeo techniques to examine the threats of climate change, increased water abstraction and catchment alteration upon this Ramsar site.

Hub members involved: Virginia Panizzo, Suzanne McGowan, Michela Mariani, Alexandra Zieritz

Sustainable water management and water quality issues in the Red River Delta in Vietnam

This area supports 20 million inhabitants and includes a major rice-growing region and the city of Hanoi. There are multiple environmental issues in this region which have arisen from a combination of damming for hydropower production, groundwater extraction, and contamination with toxins and nutrients from intensive agriculture, industrialisation and urban growth.

Hub members involved: Suzanne McGowan and Virginia Panizzo

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Image credit: Virginia Panizzo and Melanie Leng

Mapping peat conditions

Tropical forest fires affect over 20 million people in South East Asia, leading to significant deteriorations in public health and premature mortalities as well as contributing to global CO2 emissions and other negative environmental impacts. Many fires occur over drained peatland areas.

Research in the school is using satellite observations and measurements to map peat condition. By monitoring water levels and improving hydrology in the peatland areas, the risk of fire can be dramatically reduced. By using freely available observations from satellites through the EU Copernicus programme and use of emerging industrial hosted processing capabilities, peatland monitoring is a cost effective way to reduce forest fires.

Hub members involved: Doreen Boyd

Examining the links between the North Atlantic Oscillation and wildfires across Europe

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the dominant mode of atmospheric circulation variability over the North Atlantic/European sector. This climate mode leads climatic fluctuations in Europe, the Mediterranean, parts of the Middle East and eastern North America over multiple time scales from intra-seasonal to multi-decadal. The NAO underwent an important upward trend from the late 20th century, which caused large regional changes in air temperature, precipitation, winds, with impacts on either marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Studies based on climate models have suggested that changes in the NAO for the current century will result in drier and warmer conditions in the Mediterranean region, which would in turn enhance wildfire activity. The Mediterranean area is one of the most fire-prone regions of the world. Wildfires annually inflict damages to human life and property, with financial costs reaching billions of euros, as well as pose severe environmental risks by increasing air pollution as well as releasing significant amount of carbon otherwise stored in vegetation biomass into the atmosphere.

Hub members involved: Geertje van der Heijden, Michela Mariani, Giles Foody, Charles Watkins, Simon Gosling and Doreen Boyd

Environmental Risk

School of Geography
Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD