School of Geography, Geology and the Environment

Research seminars

Both external and internal speakers are invited to the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment to present the latest results of their research.

Everyone is invited, so please join us!   

Water in a changing environment: too much, too little, too hot

Wednesday 24 May 2023, LT10, Bennett Building, 1.00pm-2.00pm (Geography)

Professor David Hannah

This talk provides an overview of research that seeks to understand how water quantity and quality respond to climate and other drivers of change. Such hydrological knowledge is imperative to unravel interacting processes, to assess uncertainties in space-time projections, and to develop sustainable water policies and adaptation strategies for the betterment of ecosystems and society in a changing world.

David M. Hannah is Professor of Hydrology, UNESCO Chair in Water Sciences, and Director of the Birmingham Institute for Sustainability & Climate Action (BISCA) at the University of Birmingham. He was included in Reuters list of the world’s top climate scientists. He was honoured with the prestigious Tison Award (2014) from the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS). In 2019, he became a Royal Society Wolfson Fellow. He was awarded the Murchison Award from the Royal Geographical Society in 2022.

His long-term vision is to understand water cycle processes, hydrological events (flood, drought) and water-related impacts under climate and other drivers of change. He uses interdisciplinary approaches to address three internationally important themes: (1) to develop new knowledge of the climate drivers, hydrological response and habitat conditions that control water availability and river biodiversity in ARCTIC AND ALPINE GLACIER-FED RIVER BASINS; (2) to LINK VARIATIONS IN RIVER FLOW TO CLIMATE AND LAND CHANGES (using observations and model projections) and so improve understanding of the interconnected-ness of the water cycle at basin to regional to global scales; and (3) to unravel multiple controls on RIVER TEMPERATURE to understand the potential of different adaptations to climate change for reducing high temperature extremes that may damage aquatic ecosystems. In addition, he has made TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS in environmental sensing and helped shape the emerging citizen science agenda around water resources.

David is very active in UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrology Programme, formerly UK Representative for the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, and current President of the IAHS-International Commission for Surface Water.

He promotes knowledge exchange to communicate the importance of water and climate science for society – often facilitated by his UNESCO Chair’s ‘network of networks’ at the science-policy interface. He has authored reports underpinning the UK RIDE/ LWEC Climate Change Impacts Report Card for Water for decision-makers; his work has been included in three IPCC reports; and he gives policy advice to UK water industry, NGOs, Scottish Government, overseas government agencies, and water sector regulators on climate change adaptation. He fronted the Birmingham Heroes media campaign on “The Water Crisis”. These activities demonstrate his strong commitment to research that matters in the real-world.

365 million years ago, vertebrates evolved limbs and digits and later crawled on to land, but what happened to their skulls? 

Thursday 19 October 2023, Location TBC, Bennett Building, 1.00pm-2.00pm (Geology)

Professor Emily Rayfield, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol

The origin of tetrapods (animals with limbs and digits) and the occupation of terrestrial environments were formative events in the history of life on Earth. Numerous fossils record the anatomical changes and interrelationships of animals spanning the water to land transition, most famously revealing that limbs and digits evolved in water, rather than on land. More recently, with the advent of X-ray tomography, certain taxa have been subject to computational analysis that reveals the posture and locomotory ability of the earliest tetrapods. Conversely, although anatomical studies abound, little is known about the function of the tetrapod skull, despite it being a model system for how cranial morphology and feeding function evolve across a landscape of shifting environmental constraints.

In this seminar Professor Rayfield will discuss how computed tomography and 3D anatomical reconstruction, computational analysis of shape and functional variation and theoretical performance optima are developing our understanding of the tempo and mode of vertebrate skull evolution as these animals emerged from the water on to land.   


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