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Centre for Materials & Coastal Research

Country: Germany

Centre for Materials & Coastal Research

3 Projects, page 1 of 1
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/G019819/1
    Funder Contribution: 308,545 GBP

    The aim of our project is to understand the causes of variability and change in mean and extreme temperature, and changes in mean precipitation over the last 500 years, largely focusing on Europe. Spatial patterns of climate change and changes in extremes are important since climate affects society and the natural world on regional scales. By understanding why temperature and temperature extremes as well as precipitation have varied in the past, we will be better able to predict how it might vary in the future. This will be because we will have improved our knowledge of what mechanisms were important in changes in the past, and tested the ability of climate models to reproduce what has happened in the past. Researchers have reconstructed European temperature variability over the last 500 years, and long homogenized instrumental records are now available that go back into the 18th century, and in some cases have daily resolution. Also, some reconstructions of precipitation and circulation are becoming available that go back reliably about 250 years, and with more limitations, 500 years. Other investigators have reconstructed changes in solar activity, the timing and magnitude of major volcanic eruptions and the composition of the atmosphere using data recorded in the ice sheets. The most important natural 'forcing' of climate has been thought to be changes in radiation from the Sun. This is reconstructed from measures of solar activity such as sunspots. However, another possibly more important climate forcing is the effect of large explosive volcanic eruptions. These inject sulphate aerosol into the upper atmosphere, which reflect more sunlight, causing cooling. Since the 18th and 19th centuries human forcings have become important. Human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are well mixed, so cause roughly equal warming everywhere. From the 18th century on substantial deforestation took place. The removal of forest makes the land reflect more sunlight back to space, causing a cooling. The main fossil fuel burnt in the 19th century was coal, whose burning causes sulphur to be emitted to the atmosphere. The sulphur forms a short-lived aerosol which acts to cool regions close to where it is emitted. Thus, human forcings would be expected to have a rather complex regional affect with, in the Northern Hemisphere, warming from greenhouse gases being, partly to fully, offset by cooling due to deforestation and aerosols. To find causes of the observed patterns of climate change over Europe and the Northern hemisphere we will use climate models that can simulate what would have happened due to each individual 'forcing' described above. Then using mathematical techniques we will compare these 'fingerprints' with reconstructions of past climate change and climate variability and determine which changes have been caused by external influences, and which are just a representation of a naturally varying climate. We will mainly focus on patterns of temperature and precipitation change over Europe since 1500, but also explore the causes of changes over the entire millennium. The results of the comparison tell us the relative contribution of each forcing to past climate change, and how much change is left unexplained and may have occurred spontaneously due to chaotic variability in the climate. Since climate models, like the real world, have chaotic variability, we will use several simulations to isolate the predictable component. Using models and reconstructions, we will also explore the mechanisms responsible for the historical changes.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/E00511X/1
    Funder Contribution: 324,555 GBP

    On June 15 2006, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) released a report called 'Killing them Softly', which highlighted concern over the accumulation and toxic effects of persistent organic pollutants present in Arctic wildlife, particularly marine mammals such as the Polar Bear. The Times newspaper ran a full-page article summarising this report and detailed 'legacy' chemicals such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as well as the rise in 'new' chemical contaminants such as brominated flame retardents and perfluorinated surfactants, which are also accumulating in arctic fauna and adding an additional toxic risk. The high levels of these contaminants are making animals like the Polar Bear less capable of surviving the harsh Arctic conditions and dealing with the impacts of climate change. The work in this proposal intends to examine how these chemicals are delivered to surface waters of the Arctic Ocean, and hence the base of the marine foodweb. Persistent organic pollutants reach the Arctic via long-range transport, primarily through the air from source regions in Europe, North America and Asia, but also with surface ocean currents. The cold conditions of the Arctic help to promote the accumulation of these chemicals in snow and surface waters and slows any breakdown and evaporative loss. However, the processes that remove these pollutants from the atmosphere, store them in snow and ice and then transfer them to the Arctic Ocean are poorly understood, and yet these processes may differ depending on the chemcial in question. For example, some chemicals are rather volatile (i.e. they have a tendency to evaporate), so while they can reach the Arctic and be deposited with snowfall they are unlikely to reach the ocean due to ltheir oss back to the atmosphere during the arctic summer. On the other hand, heavier, less volatile chemicals, become strongly bound to snow and particles and can be delivered to seawater during summer melt. Climate change and a warmer world are altering the Arctic and affecting pollutant pathways. For example, the number of ice-leads (large cracks in the sea-ice that give rise to 'lakes' of seawater) are increasing. As a result, the pathways that chemical pollutants take to reach ocean waters are changing and may actually be made shorter, posing an even greater threat to marine wildlife. During ice-free periods, the ocean surface water is in contact with the atmosphere (rather than capped with sea-ice) and airborne pollutants can dissolve directly into cold surface waters. Encouragingly, there is evidence that some of the 'legacy' pollutants are declining in the arctic atmosphere, but many 'modern' chemicals are actually increasing in arctic biota and work is required to measure their input and understand their behaviour in this unusual environment. For example, in sunlit surface snow following polar sunrise (24 h daylight), some of these compounds can degrade by absorbing the sunlight, and in some cases, this can give rise to more stable compounds that subsequently enter the foodchain. Therefore, the quantity of chemical pollutant that is deposited with snowfall and the chemical's fate during snowmelt are important processes to address, especially to understand the loading and impact of these pollutants on the marine ecosystem. This project aims to understand these processes, and to understand which type of pollutants and their quantities pose the greatest threat to wildlife.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/H020047/1
    Funder Contribution: 5,762,120 GBP

    To avoid global warming and our unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels, the UK's CO2 emissions are recommended to be reduced by 80% from current levels by 2050. Aerospace and automotive manufacturing are critical to the UK economy, with a turnover of 30 billion and employing some 600,000 worker. Applications for light alloys within the transport sector are projected to double in the next decade. However, the properties and cost of current light alloy materials, and the associated manufacturing processes, are already inhibiting progress. Polymer composites are too expensive for body structures in large volume vehicle production and difficult to recycle. First generation, with a high level of recycling, full light alloy aluminium and magnesium vehicles in production are cheaper and give similar weight savings (~ 40%) and life cycle CO2 footprint to low cost composites. Computer-based design tools are also playing an increasing role in industry and allow, as never before, the optimisation of complex component architectures for increased mass efficiency. High performance alloys are still dominant in aeroengine applications and will provide ~ 30% of the structural components of future aircraft designs, where they will have to be increasingly produced in more intricate component shapes and interfaced with composite materials.To achieve further weight reductions, a second generation of higher performance light alloy design solutions are thus required that perform reliably in service, are recyclable, and have more complex product forms - produced with lower cost, energy efficient, manufacturing processes. With design optimisation, and by combining the best attributes of advanced high strength Al and Mg alloys with composites, laminates, and cheaper steel products, it will be possible to produce step change in performance with cost-effective, highly mass efficient, multi-material structures.This roadmap presents many challenges to the materials community, with research urgently required address the science necessary to solve the following critical issues: How do we make more complex shapes in higher performance lower formability materials, while achieving the required internal microstructure, texture, surface finish and, hence, service and cosmetic properties, and with lower energy requirements? How do we join different materials, such as aluminium and magnesium, with composites, laminates, and steel to produce hybrid materials and more mass efficient cost-effective designs? How do we protect such multi-material structures, and their interfaces against corrosion and environmental degradation?Examples of the many scientific challenges that require immediate attention include, how can we: (i) capture the influence of a materials deformation mechanisms, microstructure and texture on formability, thus allowing computer models to be used to rapidly optimise forming for difficult alloys in terms of component shape and energy requirements; (ii) predict and control detrimental interfacial reactions in dissimilar joints; (iii) take advantage of innovative ideas, like using lasers to 'draw on' more formable microstructures in panels, where it is needed; (v) use smart self healing coating technologies to protect new alloys and dissimilar joints in service, (vi) mitigate against the impact of contamination from recycling on growth of oxide barrier coating, etc.A high priority for the Programme is to help fill the skills gap in metallurgical and corrosion science, highlighted in the EPSRC Review of Materials Research (IMR2008), by training the globally competitive, multidisciplinary, and innovative materials engineers needed by UK manufacturing. The impact of the project will be enhanced by a professionally managed, strategic, research Programme and through promoting a high international profile of the research output, as well as by performing an advocacy role for materials engineering to the general public.

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