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250 academic fellowships available

The University of Leeds is seeking to recruit up to 250 exceptional early career academics to tenure track equivalent Academic Fellowships over the next three years. Whether you are looking to establish your academic career as a new fellow or already hold an existing funded fellowship and wish to bring it to the University of Leeds we want to hear from you.

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Study supervised by Jon Lovett shows the severe environmental impacts of armed conflicts on the Lebanon

Armed conflicts are responsible for severe environmental impacts due to both the direct effects of destruction and indirect effects resulting from the break down of law and social order. Northern Lebanon has experienced repeated conflicts over the last three decades, and in a recently published study resulting from a collaboration between Jon Lovett from the School of Geography, Leeds and the Universities of Balamand and Twente analyses change over time to demonstrate land degradation resulting from conflict. Mapping and monitoring land degradation are essential for designing and implementing post-conflict recovery plans and informed policy decisions.

The aim of the work was to evaluate the effect of repetitive armed conflicts on land degradation along the coastal zone of North Lebanon using multi-temporal satellite data. The specific objectives were to:

  • identify a list of indicators for use in conjunction with satellite remote sensi
  • monitor land cover change throughout repetitive events of armed conflicts and
  • model the effect of repetitive armed conflicts on land degradation.

The work involved the use of multi-temporal Landsat images and literature review data in Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) approach, together with 26 field visits to confirm interpretation of the images. The work resulted in the development of

  • a list of indicators to be employed,
  • land cover change detection maps with the use of multi-temporal Landsat images and, consequently, a fire risk associated with changes in vegetation cover throughout repetitive armed conflict events, and
  • an integrated approach for modelling the effect of repetitive armed conflicts on land degradation with the use of a composite land degradation index (CLDI).

The final synthetic map showed four classes of exposure to land degradation associated with repetitive armed conflicts. Data collected from field visits showed that the final classification results highly reflected (average of 90 %) the effect of repetitive armed conflicts on the different classes of exposure to land degradation.

Link to paper

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Grouse moor burning causes widespread environmental changes

Evidence of the environmental effects of moorland burning is published today in the first authoritative scientific study on the subject, with the aim of relieving tensions on both sides of the grouse moor management debate.

The EMBER (Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of River basins) project has shown that heather burning on moorland, which is practised predominantly to support red grouse populations for gun sports, has significant negative impacts on peat hydrology, peat chemistry and physical properties, river water chemistry and river ecology.

A report on the five-year EMBER project is published online today – the first day of the moorland burning season, which will run until 15 April 2015.

Dr Lee Brown, from the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, who led the study, said: "Until now, there was little evidence of the environmental impacts of moorland burning. Yet, many moorland owners and individuals who hold sporting rights to the land have felt pressured by regulators and conservationists to change their burning regimes.

“Unsurprisingly, a push away from moorland burning – a practice that started in the UK about 100-150 years ago – without solid scientific evidence to back up the need for change has created a lot of tension. The findings from the EMBER project now provide the necessary evidence to inform policy.”

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Global importance of pollinators underestimated

Declines in populations of pollinators such as bees and wasps may be a key threat to nutrition in some of the most poorly fed parts of the globe, according to new research by Dr Guy Ziv.

A major study, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B and co-authored by a University of Leeds academic, looked at the importance of pollinators to 115 of the most common food crops worldwide and the importance of those crops in delivering vital nutrients to vulnerable populations.

The research, the first to study the relationship between nutrition and pollination across the globe, found some regions where disruptions in pollination could have serious implications for human health.

Deficiencies in ‘micronutrients’—nutrients such as iron and vitamins that are required by the body in small quantities—are three times as prevalent where production of micronutrients is heavily dependent upon pollinators, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Middle East.

In Southeast Asia and parts of Latin America, almost 50% of plant-derived vitamin A production relies on pollination.

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Low Impact Living - A Field Guide to Ecological, Affordable Community Building

This book is the inspirational story of one project that shows you how you can become involved in building and running your neighbourhood. The author, Paul Chatterton, co-founder of Lilac (Low Impact Living Affordable Community), along with other members of the community and the project team, explains how a group of people got together to build one of the most pioneering ecological, affordable cohousing neighbourhoods in the world. The book is a story of perseverance, vision and passion, demonstrating how ordinary people can build their own affordable, ecological community.

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Super high-resolution survey in Greenland

Duncan Quincey, Jonathan Carrivick and Joe Mallalieu have been using an exciting new surveying technique to improve understanding of glacial flooding in Greenland.

Dr Duncan Quincey, Dr Jonathan Carrivick and Joseph Mallalieu (all School of Geography) used the emerging technique of ‘structure-from-motion with multi-view stereo’ (SfM-MVS) to analyse bedrock parts of a river channel at an unprecedented resolution.

“Worldwide, glacier margins are retreating, loss from glaciers is increasing and the consequent meltwater often forms temporarily ‘ponded’ in glacier lakes. Many of these lakes are unstable and can drain rapidly producing outburst floods,” explains Dr Carrivick. 

“Glacier outburst floods can cause loss of life, displacement of populations and damage to infrastructure, but our understanding of them is limited, due to their suddenness and short-lived nature and also the power of the flow which makes direct measurements extremely difficult. Flows are not easy to understand because they cause rapid landscape change, causing erosion and routing through complex channels. They frequently accelerate and decelerate, with rapid and abrupt changes in energy and capability to erode, transport and deposit sediment. So, new methods of surveying are needed to identify sources of sediment from outburst floods and the changes that take place between events.”

SfM uses novel digital photogrammetric and computer vision methods for simultaneously reconstructing camera pose and 3D feature geometry using multiple, overlapping digital photographs. It produces super high-resolution topographic models to improve flood modelling and also provides baseline data to compare future surveys against, allowing quantification of bedrock erosion and sediment redistribution.

 “This project collected the imagery using a combined ground-based and airborne approach,” explains Dr Carrivick. “Surveyors walked on the river banks, getting hand-held camera images at each new perspective, producing around 300 images for each site. Additionally, a quadcopter took multiple aerial photographs of the bedrock gorges, and was invaluable for speed of survey and for imaging inaccessible and exceptionally complex areas. The resulting topographic datasets have centimetre-decimetre resolution, which far surpasses any previous elevation models of the site.”

The team is now analysing the multi-scale data with a view to improving models of flood routing and propagation – for hazard analysis via information on time to inundation and hydraulics – and improving understanding of rapid bedrock erosion.The research was funded by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, administered by the Royal Geographical Society.

Microscopic ‘Saturn of the Moors’ discovered

A species of alga that resembles the planet Saturn has been discovered for the first time in the British Isles.

The algal species, which is classified as 'Saturnella saturnus', was discovered by PhD student Jeannie Beadle from the School of Geography at the University of Leeds. Her research looks at pools of water created by peatland restoration measures in the Pennines, such as drain-blocking, with this particular find coming from Moor House-Upper Teesdale Nature Reserve in March 2014.

“I’m really pleased to have shown that drain-blocking is genuinely helping biodiversity. It’s evidence like this which helps land managers to justify the money spent on peatland restoration measures,” said Beadle.

After World War II, many peatlands in the UK were drained using shallow ditches with the aim of drying out the peat to make it more suitable for forestry and land grazing animals. However, the process has since been shown to be largely ineffective and also damaging to peatland ecosystems.

The blocking of drainage ditches began in the 1980s in an attempt to restore the peatlands to their former boggy state, with most of the pools being created in the last decade or so, when restoration programmes became more widespread.

Beadle concludes: “As well as looking at algae, I’ve sampled about 150 artificial pools for macroinvertebrates, which I’m currently sorting and identifying, so there may be further interesting discoveries later this year. However, I doubt any will be as beautiful as this Saturn of the Moors.”

Beadle’s research is funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) CASE partnership with the RSPB.

Further information
Jeannie Beadle is available for interview. Please contact Sarah Reed, Press Officer, University of Leeds, on 0113 34 34196 or email s.j.reed(at)leeds.ac.uk

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