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# Off-stage ecosystem service burdens

Off-stage ecosystem service burdens

Placed-based sustainability efforts often fail to recognise the risk of turning up the environmental pressure elsewhere

In a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Moran Professor of Development and Conservation Bill Adams, together with a team of colleagues from Spain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, has looked at how ecosystem assessments often overlook what they describe as "distant, diffuse and delayed" impacts.

These impacts, termed "off-stage ecosystem service burdens" by Lead author Unai Pascual from the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) and his colleagues may be critical for global sustainability.

To succeed, these burdens must be better recognised and incorporated in ecosystem assessments such as those led by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Some policies do recognise environmental leakage of particular impacts, for example where protection of a coral reef from fishing leads to more fishing in neighbouring sites. However 'off stage burdens' also include impacts that differ from the 'on stage impacts'. For example where people displaced from fishing revert to activities that cause other types of environmental impacts such as diffuse pollutant or emissions of climate. Off-stage burdens ultimately impact people's quality of life but these are often in distant populations or even future generations. As such they are difficult to measure and are generally outside the scope of most environmental policies and ecosystem service assessments.

Jeopardising the Sustainable Development Goals

Lead author Unai Pascual from the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) argues that neglecting these off-stage burdens may jeopardise achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

"For global sustainability to be achieved, assessments and policies need to account for impacts on ecosystems and people across sites and scales. The lack of attention to off-stage burdens is partly because of the methodological difficulties and costs involved in systematically addressing them and the absence of effective institutions. But also because they have not been recognized as important components in ecosystem assessment frameworks," he says.

In the study, Pascual and his colleagues suggest various ways for science and decision-makers to deal with these "burdens" in ecosystem assessments. Fundamentally, there is a need to merge work on environmental impacts and risk analysis with ecosystem service assessments across time and space. This then must be converted into relevant policy action. In addition, we can measure and visualise burdens by using existing concepts such as 'virtual water' which, for example, captures how consuming imported goods in one place impacts water supplies in regions where these goods are produced.

Story highlights

1.Ecosystem assessments often overlook what they describe as "distant, diffuse and delayed" impacts

2.These impacts are categorised as "off-stage ecosystem service burdens" and may be critical for global sustainability

3.These burdens must be better recognised and incorporated in ecosystem assessments such as those led by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

# Cambridge researchers map climate variation over 900 years

Cambridge researchers map climate variation over 900 years

A team of researchers including Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis Ulf Buentgen, Senior Research Associate Paul Krusic and Professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer have reconstructed, for the first time, a record of May-June and August-September temperature variability for the period 1186-2014 across most of the Iberian Peninsula and northwestern Africa. This has been completed using 414 measurement series from living and derelict pine trees in the Spanish central Pyrenees. This new reconstruction reveals overall warmer conditions around 1200 and 1400, and again after around 1850. The coldest reconstructed summer in 1258 (−4.4°C compared to 1961–90) followed the largest known volcanic eruption of the period. The twentieth century is characterized by pronounced summer cooling in the 1970s, subsequently rising temperatures until 2003, and a slowdown of warming afterward.

These findings will have substantial implications on our understandings of regional climate variability and the impact of volcanic eruptions on temperature changes.

Büntgen U, Krusic P, Verstege A, Sangüesa Barreda G, Wagner S, Camarero JJ, Zorita E, Ljungqvist FC, Konter O, Oppenheimer C, Tegel W, Gärtner H, Cherubini P, Reinig F, Esper J (2017) New tree-ring evidence from the Pyrenees reveals western Mediterranean climate variability since medieval times. Journal of Climate 30: 5295-5318

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# Geography Open Day: Bookings are open!

Geography Open Day: Bookings are open!

Bookings are open for the Department of Geography Open Day as part of the University of Cambridge Open Day on the 6 and 7 July 2017. Come and join us in the Department for a taster lecture, course talk and displays on Department life with staff and students- or come and see our subject stand at the Law Faculty all day

Book now.

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# Promotions at the Department of Geography

Many congratulations to the following staff members on their recent promotions:

Dr Bhaskar Vira to Professor

Dr Poul Christoffersen to Reader

Dr Charlotte Lemanski to Senior Lecturer.

Congratulations to all!

# Geography Science Labs achieve Platinum NUS Green Impact award

Geography Science Labs achieve Platinum NUS Green Impact award

Many congratulations to the Geography Science Labs, which have achieved a Platinum NUS Green Impact Award. This is the highest award in the scheme and a great achievement- well done to all involved!

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# New advances in tephrochronology

New advances in tephrochronology

A special edition of Quaternary Geochronology, guest edited by a team led by Professor of Geography Christine Lane, explores recent advances in the field of tephrochronology. Layers of far-travelled volcanic ash (tephra) from explosive volcanic eruptions provide can provide important dating contexts in sedimentary and volcanic samples. Tephra layers may be dispersed over tens to thousands of kilometres from source, reaching far beyond individual volcanic regions. Tephrochronology is consequently a truly global dating tool. This special issue of the International Focus Group on Tephrochronology and Volcanism (INTAV) showcases some of the many recent advances in tephrochronology, from methodological developments to diverse applications across volcanological, archaeological, and palaeoclimatological research.

The edition also includes a paper authored by a team lead by new Cambridge post doc Dr Catherine Martin-Jones and including Christine Lane and Professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer which provides a new database of tephra samples in the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia.

Quaternary Geochronology, Volume 40, Pages 1-146 (May 2017):

Advancing tephrochronology as a global dating tool: applications in volcanology, archaeology, and palaeoclimatic research. Edited by Christine Lane, Simon Blockley, David J. Lowe, Victoria Smith and Takehiko Suzuki

# Extension of research collaboration between Cambridge and Yakutsk, Russia

Extension of research collaboration between Cambridge and Yakutsk, Russia

A collaborative project between Cambridge Enterprise and the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU), Yakutsk, Russia, has received a further three years of funding until Dec 2019. The project is lead by retired Head of Anthropology and Russian Northern Studies Dr Piers Vitebsky, now Professor at the University of Tromsø in Norway and Honorary Prof at the North-Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk, and has run since January 2013. The programme was set up as a consultancy project, to help Russian scholars write articles in a suitable style – and in English – to be considered for publication in internationally-recognised journals, as well as to run joint fieldwork projects between Cambridge and NEFU.

The results have been an outstanding success, and include the following:

– Of the 30 articles submitted to journals, 20 have been published, 10 more are under review.

– Two successful applications for British Council grants have allowed NEFU researchers to spend a total of 12 months in Cambridge, participating in seminars and learning to draft articles in English.

– The Rector of NEFU has twice visited Cambridge and held talks with the Cambridge VC about expanding relations between the two universities. During her last visit in February 2016 she invested Dr Vitebsky with the title of Honorary Professor of NEFU.

– The project has been featured positively in the publicity of Cambridge, NEFU and the British Council.

– The results of the project have been featured in several international conferences and workshops in Europe and North America.

# America's eroding edges: stories from the field

America's eroding edges: stories from the field

PhD student Victoria Herrmann is documenting her fieldwork exploring the effects of climate change on communities across America in a series of blog posts and articles. Victoria is currently travelling across the US and its territories, interviewing communities directly affected by shoreline erosion and climate change, and recording the impact on their ways of life.

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# Research accurately dates medieval Western Siberian village for the first time

New research published in Dendochronologica by a team involving Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis Ulf Buentgen has precisely dated, for the first time, a medieval settlement in Russia's Northen Siberia.

The Buchta Nakhodka settlement is the only archaeological site in the northern part of Western Siberia that has been fully excavated. The team applied dendrochronological (tree ring analysis) techniques to absolutely date 13 of the most important archaeological timbers from the settlement, placing construction into the second quarter of the 13th century.

By combining literary analysis, archaeological, dendrochronological, ethnographical and (archaeo)zoological evidence, the team have suggested relationships between the ancient inhabitants of Buchta Nakhodka and other ancient nations in Western Siberia and across into Iceland. In providing unique insights into the medieval settlement history of the northern part of Western Siberia, The team hope to encourage further interdisciplinary research projects to be launched at Eurasia's high-northern latitudes.

Maya O. Sidorova, Ulf Büntgen, Gulzar T. Omurova, Oleg V. Kardash, Vladimir S. Myglan, First dendro-archaeological evidence of a completely excavated medieval settlement in the extreme north of Western Siberia, Dendrochronologia, Volume 44, June 2017, Pages 146-152, ISSN 1125-7865, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dendro.2017.05.004 

# The real story behind Britain’s geological exit

The real story behind Britain’s geological exit

In Physics Today, Professor of Quaternary Paleoenvironments Phil Gibbard explores new evidence from the floor of the Dover Strait which helps paint a picture of how the island of the UK has repeatedly separated from and rejoined the European continent.

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