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Durham University

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental research news

Environment

Melting ice sheets caused sea levels to rise up to 18 metres

an iceberg

Research led by our geography department has found that previous ice loss events caused sea-levels to rise around 3.6 metres per century, offering vital clues as to what lies ahead should climate change continue.

(8 Apr 2021) » More about Melting ice sheets caused sea levels to rise up to 18 metres


Did dogs join us in settling the Americas?

Siberian husky

Dogs are regarded as our best friend and now our researchers say the first people to settle in the Americas brought their canines with them.

(26 Jan 2021) » More about Did dogs join us in settling the Americas?


Investigating impact of human activity on birds

Our scientists have shown where bird species would exist in the absence of human activity under research that could provide a new approach to setting conservation priorities.

(25 Jan 2021) » More about Investigating impact of human activity on birds


More than a million barriers on Europe’s rivers

Fresh water ecosystems can be adversely affected by barriers to the flow of water and a new study suggests that Europe’s river system is particularly badly affected.

(17 Dec 2020) » More about More than a million barriers on Europe’s rivers


Heating our homes with hydrogen

Gas pipe

Our research is supporting a new project that could see hydrogen become the future heat source for homes and provide green energy to industry.

(2 Dec 2020) » More about Heating our homes with hydrogen


Easier way to create biodiesel developed

Our researchers have developed a new way to turn the rubbish we throw away into chemicals that can help make fuel, medicines, fertilisers and biodegradable packaging.

(4 Nov 2020) » More about Easier way to create biodiesel developed


Tackling floods and water waste

Flood warning sign on flooded road

We need to look to nature for help so new homes are resilient to climate change according to a new report to MPs and policymakers.

(20 Oct 2020) » More about Tackling floods and water waste


Insects provide strategy for sustainable food production

Did you know that each year 1.3billion tonnes of food are wasted? 

(15 Oct 2020) » More about Insects provide strategy for sustainable food production


Changing attitudes to soil health

Hands holding soil

Future generations need to be educated about the crucial role that healthy soil plays in tackling climate change, according to new research.

(14 Oct 2020) » More about Changing attitudes to soil health


£4.5m to help us futureproof crops

Our research into how crops could be ‘future-proofed’ against climate change to avoid food shortages has been boosted by a major funding award.

(2 Oct 2020) » More about £4.5m to help us futureproof crops


Mapping our wasted heat

Have you ever thought about all the wasted heat that’s released into our atmosphere from large factories and power stations?

(17 Sep 2020) » More about Mapping our wasted heat


Understanding past warming can limit climate change effects

Evidence from Earth’s past warming events should be built into forecasts showing how today’s climate change could affect different species and ecosystems.

(28 Aug 2020) » More about Understanding past warming can limit climate change effects


Migrating bird populations affected by climate and land changes

Changes in climate and habitat on the breeding and non-breeding grounds of migratory birds are both playing an important part in driving their long-term population changes.

(18 Aug 2020) » More about Migrating bird populations affected by climate and land changes


Decarbonising heat research receives over £4 million in funding

We’ve won major funding for three new research projects to decarbonise heat which will significantly reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions.

(26 Jun 2020) » More about Decarbonising heat research receives over £4 million in funding


Largest amount of microplastics found on ocean floor

Our researchers have helped record the highest level of microplastics ever found on the ocean floor – with up to 1.9 million pieces in an area of just one square metre.

(30 Apr 2020) » More about Largest amount of microplastics found on ocean floor


Research helps transform coal mine into geothermal heat source

Our research is being used to transform coal mines into multi-million pound renewable energy systems.

(24 Apr 2020) » More about research helps transform coal mine into geothermal heat source


CO₂ emissions are plummeting – here’s how to keep them down

A positive result of the world’s response to Coronavirus, means that CO₂ emissions have been slashed. Professor Simone Abram looks at how we can maintain this environmental benefit.

(27 Mar 2020) » More about CO₂ emissions are plummeting – here’s how to keep them down


Animal spotting project helps double children’s mammal knowledge

A roe deer captured on camera by a MammalWeb motion-sensing camera

A citizen science project we ran in schools has dramatically increased children’s knowledge of UK wild mammals.

(4 Feb 2020) » More about Animal spotting project helps double children’s mammal knowledge


India’s National Academy of Sciences honours Durham researcher

One of our leading researchers is to be honoured by India’s oldest science academy.

(18 Nov 2019) » More about India’s National Academy of Sciences honours Durham researcher


National Energy Champion award for geothermal researcher

Research into the potential of using geothermal energy as a low-carbon heat source has won a national award for one of our leading researchers.

(13 Nov 2019) » More about National Energy Champion award for geothermal researcher


Durham geothermal energy expertise at UK Conservative Party conference

Delegates at the UK Conservative Party annual conference have heard how Durham’s research could provide a long-term, sustainable source of low-carbon energy.

Shaping the Future of Energy - Interview with Prof. Jon Gluyas, Director Durham Energy Institute

(2 Oct 2019) » More about Durham geothermal energy expertise at UK Conservative Party conference


Durham UK lead on hydrogen fuel research

We’re leading a national research project to decarbonise transport through hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and technology.

(30 Sep 2019) » More about Durham UK lead on hydrogen fuel research


Thousands of meltwater lakes mapped on East Antarctic Ice Sheet

More than 65,000 meltwater lakes have been discovered on the edge of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet by our researchers.

(25 Sep 2019) » More about Thousands of meltwater lakes mapped on East Antarctic Ice Sheet


Developing cheaper and more efficient solar power

Our scientists have helped to solve a puzzle that could lead to cheaper and more efficient solar power.

(16 Sep 2019) » More about Developing cheaper and more efficient solar power


Five cool things about our environmental research

How three students are trying to reduce the plastic mountain

From decarbonising heat to food security and water sustainability, we’re working to bring about improvements that will benefit nature and the well-being of the planet.

(5 Sep 2019) » More about Five cool things about our environmental research


Smart surfaces as a solution to global challenges

Professor Jas Pal Badyal, a Fellow of the Royal Society, is widely considered a leader in the field of surface science. Here he talks about the students in his team, their inventions and tackling global challenges.

(22 Aug 2019) » More about smart surfaces as a solution to global challenges


Keeping Africa moving in a changing climate

Durham’s engineers are working with partners in Africa to find ways to use cheaper and more sustainable local materials to build all-weather, low-traffic roads and railway lines.

(21 Aug 2019) » More about Keeping Africa moving in a changing climate


Prestigious fellowships awarded to two academics

We’re celebrating after two of our academics were awarded Fellowships by the British Academy, the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences.

(23 Jul 2019) » More about Prestigious fellowships awarded to two academics


How a tiny bug inspires surfaces that don’t get wet

A tiny bug is the inspiration for research that could one day provide clean water or help ships sail more efficiently.

(5 Jul 2019) » More about How a tiny bug inspires surfaces that don’t get wet


Giving women a voice in disaster risk reduction

Women in Nepal are having a say in how to reduce the risk of disasters like fires and landslides.

Giving women a voice in disaster risk reduction

(3 Jul 2019) » More about Giving women a voice in disaster risk reduction


Reducing the plastic mountain

Every single minute, a truck load of plastic ends up in our oceans, killing millions of animals every year. This is only going to get worse unless we do something about it.

How three students are trying to reduce the plastic mountain

(26 Jun 2019) » More about Reducing the plastic mountain


US military bigger polluter than most countries

Surprised by the headline? No wonder when discussions about greenhouse gas emissions tend to focus on statistics for countries, not institutions. But research from our Department of Geography, in partnership with Lancaster University, found that the US military’s carbon footprint is so big it out ranks that of most countries in the world.

(19 Jun 2019) » More about US military bigger polluter than most countries


New PhD opportunities in science and engineering

Smart surfaces, recyclable plastics and new medicines are some of the subjects students will be able to study and research, thanks to a £5.3 million funding boost.

(5 Feb 2019) » More about New PhD opportunities in science and engineering