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# New article on the Minneapolis Sound published in Antipode

MPhil student Zuhri James has just published a path-breaking article on the Minneapolis Sound in the journal Antipode. James brings together insights from musicology, cultural theory, and critical Black geographies to provide a unique perspective on post-war Minneapolis.

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# 2023 was the hottest summer in two thousand years

trekandshoot via Getty Images

Researchers have found that 2023 was the hottest summer in the Northern Hemisphere in the past two thousand years, almost four degrees warmer than the coldest summer during the same period.

"When you look at the long sweep of history, you can see just how dramatic recent global warming is," said co-author Professor Ulf Büntgen, from the Department. "2023 was an exceptionally hot year, and this trend will continue unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically."

The results, reported in the journal Nature, also demonstrate that in the Northern Hemisphere, the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels has already been breached.

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# Meltwater lakes cause ice shelves to fracture

Professor Ian Willis and Dr Rebecca Dell, from the Scott Polar Research Institute, have measured flexure and fracture of an Antarctic ice shelf in response to surface meltwater ponding.

The study, published in the Journal of Glaciology, is the first to measure such bending and breaking, with in-situ instruments.

The work was done with colleagues from the Universities of Colorado Boulder, Chicago, and Oxford,

Surface-water-induced flexure and fracture of ice shelves may be more widespread than previously thought. And as melting increases in the future, ice shelves may be more prone to break up and collapse than they are currently.

This has implications for global sea level; once the buttressing of inland ice is reduced or removed, glaciers and ice streams can flow more rapidly to the ocean.

The work was funded by the US-National Science Foundation and the UK-Natural Environment Research Council and involved three Antarctic field seasons.

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# Geopolitics role-plays in schools

Since 2017, Dr Liam Saddington has been working with Professor Fiona McConnell (University of Oxford) to develop educational materials focusing on geopolitics and communities excluded from the international system. They have developed a series of material for use in primary and secondary schools as well as with youth groups from marginalised communities. Alongside this, they have been conducting research focusing on young peoples' geopolitics and how UK sixth formers make sense of the contemporary world.

Their research, Simulating alternative internationals: Geopolitics role-playing in UK schools, has been published in Geoforum, focusing on their 'Model Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization' exercise. This draws on work in thirteen UK secondary schools and offers insights into the intersection of geographies of education and political geography.

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# Cambridge Geographers at EGU 2024

The coming week (14-19th April) sees the annual gathering of geoscientists from around the world, at the European Geophysical Union General Assembly, in Vienna.

Members of the Department will be contributing, giving 16 presentations (either as posters or orals), convening one session during the week and appearing as co-authors on even more presentations.

These contributions will showcase the cutting edge physical geography research that takes place across the Department, spanning the fields of cryospheric science, atmospheric modelling, geochronology, palaeoclimate and geohazards.

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# Launch of Economies Past website

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure has launched a new interactive website which allows user to map occupational structure from 1600-1911 and 2011.

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# New York Times essay by Stephen Lezak

Stephen Lezak has published a guest essay in the New York Times today responding to the recent rejection of the proposed Anthropocene epoch by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. His article also quotes SPRI and Geography Emeritus Professor Phil Gibbard.

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# RGS podcast with Prof Alice Reid

The Royal Geographical Society has published a podcast featuring Professor Alice Reid, who talks about how fertility, mortality and health affected changes in the UK's population in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The RGS have also produced associated teaching materials for Key Stage 4.

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# AI for climate and nature


Drs Harry Owen and Emily Lines are part of a newly-funded AI@CAM project which aims to find new AI-driven approaches to tackle society's biggest challenges.

The new project, AI for climate and nature, will tackle the twin climate and biodiversity crises by developing AI approaches for bringing together a wide range of datasets and accelerating the collation of information.

This work will provide up to date, relevant and robust information for researchers and decision-makers working on climate and biodiversity conservation – opening up the possibility for more targeted and effective solutions to some of our world's most pressing climate and biodiversity challenges. This project is a collaboration between Cambridge Zero, Cambridge Conservation Initiative, Conservation Evidence, Institute for Computing for Climate Science, Conservation Research Institute, Centre for Landscape Regeneration, Cambridge Centre for Carbon Credits and Cambridge Centre for Earth Observation.

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# Staying put in an era of climate change: The geographies, legalities, and public health implications of immobility

Liam Saddington

An interdisciplinary review piece by Dr Liam Saddington and colleagues from public health, psychology, and law explores the implications of immobility in the face of climate change.

Although there has been widespread discussion of climate migration, this paper explores how climate related hazards affect immobile populations. Led by Dr Daniel Robins, the paper explores how we conceptualise "environmental immobility" arguing that an interdisciplinary approach is needed when considering both "voluntary" and "involuntary" immobility.

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# Prioritise environmental sustainability in use of AI and data science methods

Jay, C., Yu, Y., Crawford, I. et al. Prioritize environmental sustainability in use of AI and data science methods. Nat. Geosci. (2024).

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science will play a crucial role in improving environmental sustainability, and leveraging them has huge potential to provide effective and robust guidance for our changing world. However, the energy requirements of these methods is significant and growing, and will have an increasingly negative effect on the environment without sustainable design and use.

Academics, including Dr Emily Lines of the Department of Geography, are calling for consideration of the energy requirements of AI to be prioritised in research, in a new article published in Nature Geoscience. They call for environmental scientists to lead the way in developing robust standards that will minimise the environmental impact — and facilitate the accessibility — of AI and data science innovation, with benefits for both the global research community and the world at large.

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# Congratulations to the 2022-23 MPhil cohort!

Big congratulations to our 2022-23 cohort on receiving their MPhil degrees and to: Matthew Benjamin Hoisch, Heidi Howard, Kuba Oniszk and Karen Park for being awarded the MPhil prize for Best Overall Performance, Leo Ko, Sebastian Koa, Leah Palmer and Isabel Strachan for being awarded the MPhil prize for Best Distinction Level Dissertation or Project Report. Fantastic achievements by all of you!

# Professor Matthew Gandy awarded Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

Professor Matthew Gandy has been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for his project "Zoonotic urbanization".

In the context of COVID-19 and other zoonotic health threats, the project will explore the analytical interface between urban ecology and urban epidemiology, by developing an interdisciplinary multi-species analysis of capitalist urbanization. The theoretical work will be enriched through empirical fieldwork in Berlin, Recife, and Taizhou.

# Professor Ulf Büntgen awarded ERC Synergy Grant

Prof Nils Christian Stenseth (University of Oslo), Prof Ulf Büntgen (University of Cambridge), Dr. Florent Sebbane (National Institute of Health and Medical Research), and Prof Philip Slavin (University of Stirling) have been awarded a six-year European Research Council grant titled "Reconstructing the environmental, biological, and societal drivers of plague outbreaks in Eurasia between 1300 and 1900 CE Synergy-Plague".

Synergy-Plague will revolutionise our understanding of plague, past and present, and contribute to our ongoing struggle with epidemic diseases, present and future. The four PIs, together with their team members, will jointly study how plague re-emerged in 14th century central Asia and radiated repeatedly from Eurasian wildlife reservoirs in the following centuries, only to disappear in the 18th-19th centuries.

# Collaboration between women helps close the gender gap in ice core science

A Perspective article co-written by Dr Matt Osman and colleagues in Nature Geoscience addresses gender disparities in ice core science.

Despite historical underrepresentation, the study reveals that the gender gap is closing. Since the early 2000s, women have outperformed their estimated proportion in publishing first-authored papers, suggesting that they fill important leadership roles on coauthor teams. Crucially, woman-led studies show a 20% higher proportion of women coauthors compared to man-led studies.

The analysis emphasizes the critical role of collaboration between women, especially senior scientists, in narrowing gender gaps within the field.

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# Recognition for Geography colleagues

Congratulations to two of our Geography colleagues, who have been shortlisted for awards within the University's Professional Services Recognition Scheme. Sophie Barnett has been shortlisted within the "Creating an Inclusive Community" category, and Adam Strange for "Demonstrating Excellence in Management and Leadership".

The shortlisting, amid nominations from across the University, recognises their dedicated hard work and contributions to the Department in these areas. The awards ceremony will be held on December 4th.

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# The Fens of eastern England once held vast woodlands

The Fens of eastern England, a low-lying, extremely flat landscape dominated by agricultural fields, was once a vast woodland filled with huge yew trees, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge studied hundreds of tree trunks, dug up by Fenland farmers while ploughing their fields. The team found that most of the ancient wood came from yew trees that populated the area between four and five thousand years ago.

These trees, which are a nuisance when they jam farming equipment during ploughing, contain a treasure trove of perfectly preserved information about what the Fens looked like thousands of years ago.

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# Off-Grid Cities stakeholder engagement workshop (South Africa)

Geography PhD student, Joanna Watterson, organised and chaired a stakeholder engagement workshop in South Africa to share the findings from the Off Grid Cities project along with Prof Charlotte Lemanski. The event was held at the University of the Western Cape, to which local government, businesses, academics, NGOs, researchers and civil society were invited to discuss the interim findings of the Off Grid Cities project.

This research explores how parivate household and business investments in off-grid and hybrid technology are changing urban electricity and water systems in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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# Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, visits SPRI to give Research Seminar

Natan Obed is the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. He was first elected in 2015 and was acclaimed to his third consecutive term in 2021. He grew up in Nain, the northernmost community of Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). He graduated from Tufts University in 2001.

President Obed is the national spokesperson for Inuit in Canada and also serves as Vice-President of Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada. As ITK President, he implements the direction set out by Inuit Leadership from the four regions of Inuit Nunangat — the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.

President Obed will meet with colleagues to discuss Arctic research and collections. The visit is supported by the ERC Arctic Cultures project, and is part of the HCEP cluster's Research Seminar Series. The lecture, "Unpacking Colonial Ties: Self-determination in Inuit Nunangat, Canada", is in the SPRI Lecture Theatre, 16.15, Tuesday 21 November 2023.

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# Charlotte Lemanski speaks at Photovoice Sanitation workshop in South Africa

Mongezi Gongo

Prof Charlotte Lemanski was invited to talk about her concept of Infrastructural Citizenship at the Sanitation through the lens workshop and Photovoice exhibition organised by PUG at the University of the Western Cape (South Africa) on 16 November 2023. The event brought together academics, policymakers and community members to share the results of research on sanitation in Cape Town's informal settlements.

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# Owen Hatherley publishes review essay on Matthew Gandy's work

Lea Valley, London (2020). Photo: Matthew Gandy

The leading architectural critic Owen Hatherley has just published a review essay "Wild City" in response to Matthew Gandy's book Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space. Hatherley elaborates on the many facets to "unplanned nature" as part of his wider engagement with Matthew's work on Berlin, Lagos, London, New York, and other cities.

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# Postgraduate Open Day Q&A sessions

Join us live at the next online Q&A sessions to find out more about our postgraduate courses:

  • MPhil in Anthropocene Studies and Holocene Climates (6 Nov)
  • MPhil in Conservation Leadership (6 Nov)
  • PhD programme (7 Nov)

Read more information and about how to register.

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# New Assistant Professor in Natural Hazards

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Maximilian Van Wyk de Vries has been appointed as Assistant Professor in Natural Hazards, a joint position between the Departments of Geography and Earth Sciences. His research uses remotely sense, ground-based and model datasets to investigate a range of geohazards in glaciated landscapes. Dr de Vries will take up his position in January 2024.

# NERC C-CLEAR environmental science PhD topics

The Department of Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute are pleased to be active and successful participants in the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Cambridge Climate, Life and Earth (C-CLEAR) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).

We are pleased to announce the list of Environmental Science PhD topics for starting in October 2024. We welcome enquires and applications from anyone who is interested.

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# Cambridge events commemorate Black History Month 2023

Screenings, re-enactments, lectures and panel discussions are taking place across the University and Colleges of Cambridge throughout October 2023, for Black History Month at Cambridge.

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# Book Launch: Maan Barua's Lively Cities: Reconfiguring Urban Ecology

We are delighted to celebrate the publication of Maan Barua's pathbreaking monograph Lively Cities: Reconfiguring Urban Ecology, recently published by the University of Minnesota Press. More than a meditation on the ways in which people and nonhuman animals interact in complex urban environments, Maan shows that cities are "living formations," a liveliness that demands a different kind of urban thinking.

As part of the Vital Geographies Research Group programme, we will help launch Maan's book on Thursday 19 October, 4-6pm, in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Maan will speak about the collective research carried out under his ERC Horizon 2020 grant, and there will be appreciations from Ash Amin, Matthew Gandy, and Philip Howell. All are welcome, but places are limited, and reservations (with Professor Howell) are needed.

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# South Africa Off-Grid Cities Project Team hosted in Cambridge

Prof Charlotte Lemanski hosted researchers from her South African Off Grid Cities project at Cambridge at the start of September 2023. They used the beautiful grounds of Newnham College for a Writing Workshop, having presented their work at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference in London at the end of August.

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# Considering the future of the IPCC

The next Assessment Report — the Seventh — of the UN's IPCC, faces some difficult decisions about how the Panel can stay relevant to the science, politics and policies of climate change.

As it considers its future, an international team of social scientists, led by Mike Hulme, has recently published a Commentary in the journal Nature Climate Change, offering three different institutional future pathways for the IPCC.

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# Welcome new students!

Congratulations to everyone who received their results today. We are looking forward to welcoming new students to the Geography Department at the start of term.

We are busy preparing materials to welcome you. We will be in contact in early September with more information about induction to the Geography Department.

For those eligible it would be great if you could make an application to the Geography Scholarship for Black and mixed Black heritage students. Applications close on 3 September.

# A T 'Dick' Grove, 1924-2023

Alfred Thomas Grove, known universally as Dick, died at home in Cambridge on 9th July 2023, aged 99. Dick was a University Lecturer in Geography from 1954 to 1980, after which he became Director of the African Studies Centre at Cambridge. He also became Vice-Master at Downing College during the 1970s. He made major contributions to the understanding of environmental change in Africa, especially in dryland regions.

A full appreciation of his life is available to read.

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# Becky Dell is appointed Assistant Professor in Glaciology at the Scott Polar Research Institute

We are delighted to announce that Dr Becky Dell has been appointed as an Assistant Professor in Glaciology at SPRI, starting October 1st this year.

Becky first arrived at SPRI in 2017 for her PhD, which focussed on developing remote sensing and machine learning methods for the study of ice-shelf stability in Antarctica. Since completing her PhD in 2021, Becky has worked within the Institute as a European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative Fellow.

Becky has significant expertise in both remote sensing and fieldwork-based studies of Antarctic ice shelves, which will continue to be of considerable benefit to the research, teaching, and outreach of both SPRI and the Geography Department.

# Marc Macias-Fauria is appointed Professor of Physical Geography

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Marc Macias-Fauria as Professor of Physical Geography, a position held between the Department of Geogtraphy and the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Marc is currently Professor of Biogeosciences in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University. He is an ecologist who studies the interactions between biological systems and the physical environment they inhabit, experience, and modify, with an emphasis on environmental change in cold ecosystems, especially in the Arctic, but also cold ecosystems globally.

Marc will bring additional strength to SPRI's work on changing Arctic ecosystems and cryospheric processes, and his work will integrate across the department's research in the fields of plant sciences, biogeography, climatology, and Earth sciences, conceived within an Earth System based and solutions-oriented approach.

Marc will take up his appointment at the University of Cambridge on 1st January 2024.

Mike Hulme, Head of Department

# Open Days: 6-7th July 2023

The Department will be taking part in the 2023 Cambridge Open Days for prospective applicants from Year 12 (or equivalent) and mature applicants (aged 21 or over), together with their parents or supporters, to help them learn more about the University.

On Thursday 6 July and Friday 7 July 2023  we will be open to anyone who would like to visit; you will be able to meet staff and students. We will be open 10am to 4pm each day.

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# 'Climate Change Isn't Everything', Mike Hulme's new book

This new book by Mike Hulme develops the argument that we must not live as though climate alone determines our present and our future. The changing climate poses serious dangers to human and non-human life alike, but too many social, political and ecological problems facing the world today – from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the management of wildfires – quickly become climatized, explained with reference to 'a change in the climate'. The book confronts this dangerously myopic view that reduces the condition of the world to the fate of global temperature or the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to the detriment of tackling serious issues as varied as poverty, liberty, biodiversity loss, inequality and international diplomacy.

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# Olga Petri and Michael Guida's Winged Worlds edited collection just published

Congratulations to Olga Petri and her co-editor Michael Guida of the University of Sussex on the publication of Winged Worlds: Common Spaces of Avian-Human Lives (Routledge). Olga has provided the introduction, and there are chapters from (among many others) former and current Cambridge Geographers Bill Adams, Philip Howell, Adam Searle and Jonathon Turnbull.

This collection focuses on multifarious encounters with birds, in the spaces humans share with them, and in our understanding of realms of flight that we can only fully access in imagination. This book is a timely contribution to "more-than-human geographies," offering new perspectives on how to live with others in a rapidly changing world.

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# Extreme cooling 1.12 million years ago ended the first human occupation of Europe

The oldest known hominin remains in Europe have been recovered from Iberia and suggest that early humans had arrived from SW Αsia at about 1.4 million years ago. The climate around this time of the Early Pleistocene epoch was characterized by warm and wet interglacial periods and mild glacial periods, so it has long been assumed that once humans arrived, they were able to survive in southern Europe through multiple climate cycles and adapt to increasingly deteriorating conditions after 900 thousand years ago.

A team of palaeoclimate scientists from UCL, University of Cambridge, including Professor Phil Gibbard, and CSIC Barcelona reconstructed conditions from a deep-sea core off Iberia, revealing the presence of abrupt climate changes that culminated in an extreme glacial cooling 1.12 million years ago. The article will shortly be published in Science by Margari et al. (2023) Extreme glacial implies discontinuity of early hominin occupation of Europe.

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# Books under threat - article by Matthew Gandy

In Matthew Gandy's new article in Area he explores some worrying trends in relation to academic book publishing. In particular, Matthew argues that the UKRI open access mandate for books risks entrenching existing forms of academic inequality as well as undermining the significance of books as a distinctive facet of intellectual life.

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# Madeleine Ary Hahne wins Vice-Chancellor's Social Impact Award

Congratulations to our PhD student Madeleine Hahne!

The awards, organised by Cambridge Hub, recognise and celebrate exceptional achievement in contributing to society.

Madeleine is the co-founder of climate action non-profit Vision of Soon, a Gates Cambridge Scholar, an honorary Woolf Institute Scholar, and a PhD candidate in Geography researching how conservative religionists view climate change. She also worked for the National Democratic Institute where she helped run an International Electoral Observation Mission in Beirut, Lebanon and train Kurdish parliamentary candidates in Dohuk, Iraq. She is a former Obama White House Intern and holds a Cambridge MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Dr Anthony Freeling said: "The winners have demonstrated that innovation and perseverance can go a long way in making a positive impact on society. Their accomplishments serve as an inspiration to us all."

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# Pushkin Prize nomination for Dr Olga Petri

Photography: Antonio Olmos

Many congratulations to Dr Olga Petri on being nominated for the 2023 Pushkin House Book Prize, which is awarded annually to books on and about Russia, its people, history and culture. Dr Petri's debut monograph, Places of Tenderness and Heat: The Queer Milieu of Fin-de-Siècle St. Petersburg (Cornell University Press) is a novel exploration of the historical geography of queer male sexuality and sociality in imperial Russia. The Pushkin Prize judges include scholars, writers, and creative artists, and consider works from a very wide range of disciplines and topics and a very competitive field. To be part of a shortlist of just six works is an amazing honour! The winner will be announced on June 15th at Pushkin House in London. Congratulations also go to Olga for her appointment to a teaching associate position in the Department, beginning in September this year.

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# Professor Sarah Hall appointed to the '1931 Chair in Geography'

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Sarah Hall to the 1931 Chair in Geography. Sarah is currently Professor of Economic Geography in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham, and a Senior Fellow and Deputy Director at the ESRC-funded academic think tank 'UK in a Changing Europe'.

Professor Hall is a public economic geographer, whose work develops new, cultural economy approaches to understanding economic change, especially in relation to UK-China and UK-EU relations. Her work has gained wide international recognition, and informs and shapes academic, public and policy debates at a time of radical economic disruption.

Professor Hall is the seventh, and first female, holder of the 1931 Chair, the first established professorship in Geography at Cambridge and one of the oldest in the country. The post was first occupied by glaciologist and geologist Frank Debenham in 1933. It has subsequently been held by coastal geomorphologist J. Alfred Steers, historical geographer Clifford Darby, and economic geographers Michael Chisholm and Robert Bennett. The post has most recently been held by Ash Amin, who retired in 2022.

Sarah will take up her appointment at the University of Cambridge on 1st October 2023.

Mike Hulme, Head of Department

# Alex Jeffrey contributes to Foreign Affairs Committee on Stability in Western Balkans

Kathleen Murgatroyd

On Thursday 20th April, Professor Alex Jeffrey was invited by Alicia Kearns MP, Chair of the UK Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, to contribute to a debate concerning stability in the Western Balkans.

Alex emphasised the threat posed to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the wake of increased youth emigration and the continued supervision by international agencies. He pointed to the possibilities posed by the creation of state-level institutions, such as the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the topic of his 2020 book The Edge of Law. Keen to ensure the voices of young people were heard in the debate, in writing his talk Alex collaborated with PhD student Dino Kadich to draw on his pioneering feminist scholarship on the politics of the future in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

# Why the 'Great Acceleration' is giving the Anthropocene an identity crisis

Back in 2000, Dutch chemist Paul Crützen's idea that humans have transformed Earth, pushing it into a new geological age that he dubbed the Anthropocene, sparked interest and controversy in the social sciences — and lots of buzz in the popular media. For Earth system scientists — those who study how the planet's atmosphere, hydrosphere, rocky crust and biosphere work, in tandem — the idea was immediately compelling.

But some geologists — those who chart Earth's history recorded in hard rock and soft sediments — are more sceptical - including Professor Phil Gibbard.

Not all geologists agree humans have transformed Earth's surface in 70 years
A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio documentary Ideas presenting a discussion about the Great Acceleration and Anthropocene Working Group labours is now posted at the CBC Ideas website.

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# Medieval monks accidentally recorded some of history’s biggest volcanic eruptions

Recueil de poésies françaises. Consolation de Boèce, Ms. 822, fol. 61v, Bibliothèque Municipale de Toulouse /Gallica, BnF

By observing the night sky, medieval monks unwittingly recorded some of history's largest volcanic eruptions, according to a new analysis of 12th and 13th century European and Middle Eastern chronicles.

An international team, including researchers from the University of Cambridge, drew on readings of medieval texts, along with ice core and tree ring data, to accurately date some of the biggest volcanic eruptions the world has ever seen.

"By putting together the information from ice cores and the descriptions from medieval texts we can now make better estimates of when and where some of the biggest eruptions of this period occurred." said co-author Professor Clive Oppenheimer from the Department of Geography.

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# Charlotte Lemanski awarded British Academy Knowledge Frontiers Research Funding

Charlotte Lemanski has been awarded funding from the British Academy's Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary Research programme. Prof Lemanski is a co-investigator on the Interrogating Urban Crisis Representation and Response in 'Disorderly' Southern Cities. During this project she will work with Dr Melanie Lombard (University of Sheffield), Dr Fiona Anciano (University of the Western Cape, South Africa), and Dr Carlos Andres Tobar Tovar (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali, Columbia).

# Charlotte Lemanski awarded British Academy International Writing Workshop Funds

Charlotte Lemanski has been awarded funding from the British Academy to run an International Writing Workshop in collaboration with Richard Ballard from the GCRO. The workshop will support early-career researchers from southern Africa to develop a publication for an international peer-reviewed journal within the theme of Governing for Urban Inclusion. The workshop will be held in Johannesburg in 2024.

# Matthew Gandy wins book prize

Matthew Gandy's book Natura urbana: ecological constellations in urban space (The MIT Press, 2022) has been awarded a 2023 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize by the Foundation for Landscape Studies and the University of Virginia School of Architecture. The prize is awarded every three years for works based on original research that "break new ground in method or interpretation".

# Ice sheets can retreat faster than previously thought possible

Dr. Frazer Christie, Scott Polar Research Institute

SPRI-based researchers Drs. Frazer Christie, Sasha Montelli, Prof. Julian Dowdeswell and Evelyn Dowdeswell have published research showing that ice sheets are capable of retreating much faster than previously thought possible.

The research, led by Cambridge Geography and SPRI alumnus Dr. Christine Batchelor of Newcastle University, analysed more than 7,600 subtle landforms called 'corrugation ridges' across the mid-Norwegian seafloor. These landforms revealed that a former ice sheet underwent pulses of rapid retreat totalling up to 600 meters per day at the end of the last Ice Age. This rate is up to 20 times faster than present-day rates of ice-sheet retreat observed from satellites, and suggests that similarly rapid retreat could occur across flat-bedded areas of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the future.

The research is published as an article in the journal Nature, and further information can be found in the Cambridge University press release.

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# SPRI Review 2022

SPRI Review 2022 is now available online. SPRI Review is the Annual Report issued by the Scott Polar Research Institute, giving information on the Institute's activities over the past year.

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# Success in Student-Led Teaching Awards

Congratulations to three members of Geography teaching staff who have been shortlisted for Cambridge Students' Union Student-Led Teaching Awards: Eimear Dunne (Lecturer of the Year), Chris Sandbrook (Inclusive Practice) and Howard Nelson (Student Support). This is richly deserved recognition for three of excellent educators. The award ceremony will be held on 16th May - good luck Eimear, Chris and Howard!

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# Charlotte Lemanski speaks at Cambridge zero event

Charlotte Lemanski shared about her work on waste infrastructure in South Africa at a Cambridge Zero workshop on the circular economy and waste.

The aim of the NERC Discovery Science funded workshop was to bring together researchers working across the University to explore cross-disciplinary responses to the challenges of waste.

# JY Buchanan, Geography and Oceanography

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the confirmed presence of manganese nodules on the deep ocean floor. The first person to give a formal lecture in Geography at Cambridge University, the Scottish chemist and hydrographer JY Buchanan, was central to this discovery. The birth of oceanography is generally taken to be the 3.5 year circumnavigation of HMS Challenger, 1872-1876. On 7 March 1873, the Challenger's Chief Scientist, Wyville Thomson, reported that a deepwater haul in the Western Atlantic had revealed 'a number of very peculiar black oval bodies about an inch long … when handing over a portion … to Mr. Buchanan for examination, he found that it consisted of almost pure peroxide of manganese.' Following his lecture in October 1889, Buchanan's career in Geography was not a success (he resigned in late 1893), quite unlike his earlier, stellar career in pioneering oceanography.

# Nature's editorial about Mike Hulme's new book on the IPCC

This week's issue of Nature (2 March) includes an editorial which discusses the book published earlier this year edited by Mike Hulme and colleague Kari de Pryck, 'A Critical Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change' (CUP, 2022). Nature's editorial describes it as a new book that "takes an in-depth look at the IPCC helps to explain why the climate panel and IPBES remain two of a kind — and why we might not see their like again". The book was written collaboratively with 33 other social scientists and includes chapters on the IPCC's formation and governance, who participates in it, and what its future might be. The editorial rightly concludes that it is "an IPCC-style assessment of the IPCC itself."

# Zoonotic disease and multispecies urbanism

The "brain-eating amoeba" Naegleria fowleri.  Photo: Kateryna Kon.

In Matthew Gandy's new article in Urban Studies he shows how the conceptual field of zoonotic urbanisation provides an analytical entry point for understanding an emergent "triple crisis" spanning climate change, biodiversity loss, and global health threats. He uses a modified urban political ecology framework to explore emerging landscapes of epidemiological risk at multiple scales.

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# Does going off-grid deepen inequalities in South Africa?

This article, produced by Charlotte Lemanski's Off Grid Cities research project team, questions the justice and equity implications of off-grid water and energy technologies. This is highly topical given South Africa's current energy and water crises, where loadshedding (scheduled power blackouts) is implemented for up to 12 hours a day alongside regular water outages and restrictions. While this has resulted in residents and businesses with the financial resources to install off-grid technologies that reduce their reliance on networked infrastructure, the collective consequences are a worsening of inequality and living conditions for the poor.

# New study finds flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet more complex than thought

Robert Law

Researchers in the Department of Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute have identified a highly variable layer of 'warm' basal ice to exert strong control on the flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The basal ice layer is highly deformable and up to 70 m thick in topographic depressions where its deformation explains 90% of the ice sheet's total motion. To study where the basal ice layer forms and how it evolves, the researchers constructed a 3D model.

The results reported in the journal Science Advances could be used to develop more accurate predictions of how the Greenland Ice Sheet will respond to climate change. "Even tiny amounts of liquid water alters the mechanical characteristics of the ice considerably" said first author Dr Robert Law, who completed the work as a PhD student in Cambridge. "The findings challenge the textbook view of how ice sheets move" added supervisor and project leader Professor Poul Christoffersen.

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# Three Men on a Reef

Special Collections, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Using a one hundred year old photograph found in the archives of the Royal Society in London, Tom Spencer has been able to show that this image forms part of the record of early discussions on modern coral reef science, instigated around the Second Pan-Pacific Science Congress held in Melbourne and Sydney in August/September 1923.

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# Justice implications of off-grid water and electricity in South Africa

A new vignette, released by the GCRO as part of Charlotte Lemanski's Off Grid Cities research project demonstrates how affluent households are able to use environmental justifications to mitigate the impacts of water and electricity disruptions in South Africa.

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# Learning from the Great Tide

Van Veen, J. 1962 Dredge, drain, reclaim, 5th edn. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff,

On the exact 70th anniversary of the catastrophic 1953 storm surge along the east coast of England, listen to Tom Spencer, Emeritus Professor of Coastal Dynamics, Department of Geography talk about the governmental response at the time, the challenges for the management of low-lying coasts now, and the work of the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit in a BBC Radio 4 programme, Seriously... Learning from the Great Tide.

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# COP27 and the era of loss and damage: from periphery to core

Final year PhD student Friederike Hartz attended the COP27 negotiations in Sharm el Sheikh in November. Here in this post for the Oxford University Politics Blog, Freddie provides a historical perspetive on the rise of the 'loss and damage' agenda, explaining how what was once regarded as a problem of the periphery, loss and damage has now become a core concern in international climate negotiations.

# Runaway West Antarctic ice retreat can be slowed by climate-driven changes in ocean temperature

Dr. Frazer Christie, Scott Polar Research Institute

An international team of researchers, led by Dr. Frazer Christie, has combined satellite imagery and climate and ocean records to obtain the most detailed understanding yet of how West Antarctica is responding to climate change.

Their results, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that while West Antarctica continues to retreat, the pace of ice melting has recently slowed across its most vulnerable sector in-sync with changes in atmosphere and ocean conditions offshore. Ultimately, the research implies that runaway, ice-sheet-wide collapse isn't inevitable, depending on how the climate changes over the next few decades.

The study was supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Natural Environment Research Council, the US National Science Foundation, the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration project and the European Space Agency.

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# Launch of RGS Report on Law and Geography

Alex Jeffrey

An Royal Geographical Society Report was launched today examining how geographical ideas impact legal processes. Co-authored by Prof. Alex Jeffrey, the report draws on surveys and interviews with geographers across the UK to explore the often-hidden role of geographical knowledge in impacting legal processes. A key goal of the report is to make visible these endeavours, promote the importance of geography to public audiences, and to learn from geographers' experiences to provide better support and training for geographers in the future.

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# Unravelling processes behind tree-ring formation

Annemarie Eckes-Shephard

Tree rings are a well-known feature of temperate and boreal species, but how these are formed is poorly understood. Tree rings are not only useful for determining the age of trees, but also contain critical information about past climates and represent a major sink of atmospheric carbon. Professor Andrew Friend and colleagues investigated the mechanisms responsible for the structure of tree rings using a new model that incorporates processes such as the influence of daylength, temperature, and the distribution of sugars across the growing wood.

The results, published in Nature Communications, overturn previous understanding and suggest a key role for the gradient in sugar concentration from the phloem (which transports sugars to the wood from leaves) to each cell, where cell-wall growth occurs. This work should greatly increase our ability to predict how future tree growth will respond to climate change and rising CO2, as well as improve our understanding of past climates.

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# 100 years of Australian Coral Reef Science; the Cambridge Connections

Photo: C. Maurice Yonge (by permission, National Library of Australia PIC/11204/332)

100 years of Australian coral reef science was celebrated at a special centenary meeting of the Australian Coral Reef Society in Brisbane, Australia, 25-27 November 2022. The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit's Tom Spencer gave the opening keynote address 'The Great Barrier Reef Committee and the making of modern coral reef science' at the Queensland Museum.

Tom showed how early Anglo-Australian collaborations led to the 1928-29 Great Barrier Reef Expedition (leader: Maurice Yonge, Zoology Cambridge; Head of Geographical Section: Alfred Steers, Geography, Cambridge). The Expedition's emphasis on the relationships between reef growth and environment, and the critical importance of their study in the field, effectively set the template for much of modern coral reef science. An accompanying Museum exhibition included the original Expedition dive helmet, used for some of the earliest studies of the variation of coral growth with water depth.

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# Flood risk futures and a new modelling tool

Most coastal flood risk assessments are over-simplified and only a small number of possible scenarios are considered – not enough to build in the uncertainties of the climate changes we face. Now a new digital tool, developed by the Department's Cambridge Coastal Research Unit with researchers at the consulting engineers Arup and the National Oceanography Centre, allows the consideration of the economic impact of tens of thousands of potential scenarios of rising seas and mitigation activities. Applied to flood risk in the city of Hull, UK east coast, it's the first time the full scope of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sea-level rise projections can be seen in an interactive way.

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# RGS-IBG Prize for an Undergraduate Dissertation

Congratulations to Gabriella Vides-Gold (Emmanuel, 2019) on a prize-winning undergraduate dissertation. 'Visceral Temporality: (Not) Eating, Embodiment and Disordered Time' was chosen as the winning dissertation in the national competition run by the Royal Geographical Society's Food Geographies Research Group.

Gaby's dissertation was praised for its care and sensitivity, for its methodological innovation, and for its ethical rigour. The judges considered her work to be a thoughtful, well-written contribution to the geographies of embodied time and eating disorders. Very well done to Gaby!

# COP15: UN and Cambridge sign agreement to bolster conservation

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity secretariat and the University of Cambridge signed a Memorandum of Understanding on day two of COP15, which recognises that the CCI Masters in Conservation Leadership course hosted by the Department of Geography plays a crucial role in conservation capacity building.

The Masters in Conservation Leadership team have been working towards this agreement for several years and are delighted to now finalise the agreement, enabling a cohesive approach to building the leadership capacity needed to create a diverse world in which nature and society thrive.

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# A Critical Assessment of the IPCC

Published today, and edited by Kari de Pryck and Mike Hulme, from Cambridge University Press is 'A Critical Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change'. This is first ever book-length analysis of a knowledge institution that sits close to the heart of climate change science, policy and politics. It brings together 30 social scientists from around the world whose contributions examine the governance, practices, products, participants, and influence of the institution, drawing particularly upon the insights of science and technology studies (STS) and political science. It is available fully open-access from CUP.

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# Birds and biodiversity in Chennai

Matthew Gandy

Matthew Gandy has published an article in Environment and Planning E on disappearing wetlands and the threat to migratory birds in Chennai entitled "Chennai flyways: birds, biodiversity, and ecological decay". The article introduces the concept of ecological decay to explore multiple processes of habitat destruction that unsettle existing conceptions of urban nature.

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