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Department of Geography




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# Tree Rings and Radiocarbon

Professor Ulf Büntgen is presenting a talk, Tree Rings and Radiocarbon, at the AMS Beyond 2020 Symposium at ETH in Zurich on Friday 21 September. The AMS Symposium presentations will be livestreamed tomorrow morning, with Professor Büntgen presenting at 11.45 (time local to Zurich).

# Coastal management could prevent rising sea levels causing large scale loss of coastal wetlands

© Matthew Barker (cc-by-sa/2.0)

A new study, by a team of researchers led by members of the Department's Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, finds that coastal management could prevent rising sea levels causing large-scale loss of coastal wetlands.

Previous studies have predicted catastrophic coastal wetland loss as sea levels rise. However, this new research shows that the global area of coastal wetland could increase if coasts are managed so that they have alternative spaces to grow: areas where sediment could build up, uninhibited by built infrastructure such as sea walls and cities, and where wetland plants could develop. Coastal wetlands could then expand inland in response to sea level rise.

The research was led by Dr Mark Schuerch, former postdoctoral research fellow at CCRU (now University of Lincoln) with the CCRU Director Professor Tom Spencer and including Dr Ruth Reef (now University of Monash).

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# Charlotte Lemanski speaks at Speculative Infrastructures workshop, Sheffield

Charlotte Lemanski discusses her work at the Speculative Infrastructures workshop, held at the University of Sheffield 6-7 September, sponsored by the Urban Geography journal.

Discussing her recent research on infrastructural citizenship within the framework of 'displacement', she also explores the temporal nature of the displacement of expectations and hopes for South Africans awaiting public infrastructure.

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# New paper: Tree rings reveal globally coherent signature of cosmogenic radiocarbon events in 774 and 993 CE

Based on the largest ever volunteer effort by the international tree-ring community, including 67 scholars from 57 institutes around the world, the global extent and seasonal timing of the rapid increase in atmospheric Carbon-14 concentrations from the two largest cosmogenic events in 774 and 993 CE is presented for the first time ever.

The COSMIC initiative demonstrates the annual dating precision of the world's 44 longest tree-ring chronologies, thereby rejecting any claims of globally missing tree rings following large volcanic eruptions. Moreover, COSMIC reveals evidence for a yet unknown meridional gradient of declining mean atmospheric 14C values within and between both hemispheres.

In describing a universal paradigm for dating precision across a wide range of natural and archaeological proxy archives across continents and hemispheres, the authors provide a valuable asset for many fields of modern climate and environmental research, geosciences and the humanities.

This benchmark study will appeal to non-scientists, not only because it offers definitive and unique evidence of how the dating precision of tree-ring chronologies is now independently verified, but also because it provides important information for assessing the threat of space weather on our society.

The research team included the Department's Professor Ulf Büntgen, Professor Clive Oppenheimer, and Paul J. Krusic.

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# Sir David Attenborough joins a celebration of the Cambridge Masters in Conservation Leadership

Sir Cam

Sir David Attenborough was at the University last week to join an event celebrating the achievements of the alumni of the Masters in Conservation Leadership. The event brought together, for the first time, over 120 alumni from the first eight cohorts of the Masters in Conservation Leadership, along with many of the conservation researchers and practitioners based in Cambridge who contribute to the delivery of the Masters course. The event was designed to celebrate the Masters, and to strengthen the global network of alumni, who come from over 70 different countries, so that it helps them to achieve enhanced conservation impact.

Sir David gave a speech to close an afternoon of presentations by the alumni cohorts that showcased the diverse, inspiring and important work they have been doing since leaving the course. He said:

"This afternoon has been one of the most heartening afternoons I've had for a long time… because seeing people… who have come to Cambridge from all over the globe, and have got together and laughed together and devised new thoughts and new approaches; that's a marvel. The world will need you and the likes of you more than it ever has done. If humanity [is to come] to its senses… it will only happen by events and organisations that produce communities like this one."

Along with Sir David, The Vice-Chancellor was in attendance. He said:

"As Vice-Chancellor, I have made no secret of my belief that as a world-leading University, Cambridge must engage with the great challenges facing humanity, through applied research, partnership with civil society and the training of future leaders. The MPhil in Conservation Leadership is a perfect example of this vision in action, and a flagship course in more than just conservation."

Dr Chris Sandbrook, Director of the Masters, who fronted the delivery of this ambitious event said:

"Through the Masters we are creating a global network of conservation leaders, better equipped to bring about the changes that are needed to conserve the world's biodiversity. Bringing our alumni together in one place for this event has allowed us to create new connections between them so that in future they can support each other in their vital work."

The event, which ran from the 29th August to 1st September, was designed to create new connections between alumni, and to strengthen ongoing links with the partners that make up the Cambridge Conservation Initiative housed in the David Attenborough Building.

The Masters in Conservation Leadership is a professional degree launched in 2010 to equip the next generation of conservation leaders with the skills and experience they need to bring about positive change for the natural world. The 143 students who have joined the course come from a total of over 70 countries, predominantly in the Global South. Graduates have gone on to hold key roles in charity, government and business.

The Masters is a full-time, 11-month degree aimed at graduates of leadership potential with at least three to five years of relevant experience. The course focuses on issues of leadership and management, and delivers a world-class and interdisciplinary education that is not available elsewhere.

The course is based at the University's Department of Geography. Unique among graduate courses in conservation in the UK and globally, the course is delivered in collaboration with biodiversity conservation organisation partners in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), who provide more than 50% of the lectures as well as hosting group and individual projects. The course also benefits from teaching from multiple university departments that are affiliated to the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute. The Masters in Conservation Leadership has a dedicated teaching room within the David Attenborough Building, offering the students unrivalled access to world-leading conservation practitioners and researchers.

# How drones can save UK forests

Steve Boreham

Dr Steve Boreham, Geographical Services Officer for the Department of Geography, explains how drones are changing data collection from different landscapes in his new article How Drones Can Save the UK's Forests, published by Geographical.

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# Historic building activity in Europe mirrors plague outbreaks and food prices

With the help of almost 50,000 precisely dated pieces of construction timber, researchers, including the Department's Professor Ulf Büntgen, have for the first time reconstructed variations in the intensity of building activity in Europe from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. A comparison of the building history with plague epidemic and food price data revealed that decreases in building activity coincided with larger plague outbreaks and higher food prices. The results have just been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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# Ruth Massey and Charlotte Lemanski at Royal Geographical Society Conference

Drs Ruth Massey and Charlotte Lemanski attended the Royal Georgaphical Society 2018 conference in Cardiff (28-31 August), and presented their current work in the 'Urban Energy Landscapes in the Global South' session.

Ruth spoke about strategies to deliver energy innovation to low-income housing settlements. Using examples from fieldwork in Cape Town, South Africa, the presentation highlighted the ways in which partnerships and networks between key stakeholders (public, private, community) comprise a form of infrastructure in itself, but one that is frequently overlooked. As a consequence of ignoring the importance of building partnerships between those involved in devising, delivering and using energy interventions for low-income housing, the long-term sustainability of interventions is compromised.

These findings comprises part of Charlotte Lemanski's British Academy Cities and Infrastructure Grant on Energy Innovation for low-income housing in India and South Africa.

# New paper: The double crisis: in what sense a regional problem?

A new paper from Dr Mia Gray, published in the journal Regional Studies, calls for regional studies scholars to explore new growth models to solve economic and environmental issues.

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# New paper: Sonic refugia: nature, noise abatement and landscape design in West Berlin

The Department's Dr Sandra Jasper has a new paper published in the Journal of Architecture, Sonic refugia: nature, noise abatement and landscape design in West Berlin. The paper explores how West Berlin landscape designers used planting to prevent noise pollution.

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