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Sea levels are rising, but how do we know? The first in a series on the history of climate change research.

Shariatpur, Bangladesh: Billal Hossain breaks his house and collects the last brick to shift to another place to settle. His house is being washed away thanks to rising sea levels. Moniruzzaman Sazal / Climate Visuals Countdown

In 1933, a Finnish oceanographer and politician called Professor Rolf Witting visited Lisbon to attend a meeting of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics.

Whilst there, he argued passionately for the need to create an international committee to monitor global sea levels, explaining that: ‘For the study of the tides and the tidal currents, of other movements of the sea surface and of currents of different origin, continual observations of sea level are the sole or a most…

Without the ozone layer, complex life on Earth would not exist. In the 1980s, a team of scientists shocked the world when they detected a hole in the layer.

In 1977, 24-year-old Jonathan Shanklin saw an advert for a job at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which read: Wanted: physicist with an interest in meteorology and programming skills. Feeling he ticked the boxes, Jonathan applied and was offered the role.

Scrawling data on sheets of paper

At first, one of his main tasks was checking and correcting all of the data from the Dobson ozone spectrophotometer in Antarctica. This instrument measures the amount of UV light reaching…

PongMoji/Getty Images

By Debs Barber

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals in the world — but maybe we should think of them as victims, not villains? Worldwide, an estimated 700 million people contract diseases from a mosquito bite, causing over one million deaths per year. Yet it’s not the mosquitoes themselves that cause disease: it’s the pathogens — viruses, parasites and bacteria — that use them to replicate and spread. We explore how research is searching for a way to help the mosquitoes fight back to end the cycle of transmission.

You might think you hate ALL mosquitoes, but it’s only female mosquitoes…

As the UK transitions to becoming a Net Zero country by 2050, completely new jobs and industries will be created. It’s hard to imagine what this future jobs market will look like, so we asked our research and innovation experts to predict a range of jobs that could play a part in a Net Zero economy — which ones appeal to you?

Net Zero transformation advisor

The UK’s pledge to reach Net Zero is enshrined in law: we’ve pledged to cut emissions by 78% by 2035. …

by The Futureproof Project Team

Net zero poses a significant challenge for the construction industry. This is why UKRI’s Transforming Construction challenge is supporting innovation that tackles the need to revitalise the carbon, energy, time, waste and cost aspects of buildings of the future.

With the support of two key pillars of the Transforming Construction challenge - the Construction Innovation Hub and the Active Building Centre - an innovative new model, Futureproof, now offers a viable alternative to the dominant model of housing development that doesn’t effectively meet our societal or environmental needs.

Construction is a growth industry. A huge…

Optimising whole-life building performance with digital twins

Moving towards net zero will mean step-changes in the way we construct, maintain and power our buildings and infrastructure. Building better first-time round will ease the burden of having to decarbonise in the future.

To this end, the Transforming Construction Challenge has been making transformational changes to support industry to accelerate the shift away from a system that delivers the cheapest outcome to one with maximum value to society.

One such project is eDigit2Life, a collaborative R&D project that is developing and trialling a digital twin to inform and improve operational performance to cut carbon across an entire campus.

Ben Chaney and Dr Rehan Kohdabuccus discuss the commitment of ZED PODS to increase building energy efficiency and reducing embodied carbon emissions to meet UK’s net zero targets by 2050

Hope Rise, in Bristol, a ZED PODS project

With the UK government’s pledge to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 and the UN’s sustainable development goals setting out a roadmap to inclusive and sustainable communities by 2030, the UK design and construction industries will need to make crucial adjustments to keep up.

A focus on increasing building energy efficiency, providing on site renewable energy and reducing embodied carbon emissions in order to meet these ambitious goals is…

How does your low-carbon garden grow? We asked Professor Jess Davies, Director of the Centre for Global Eco-innovation at Lancaster University, and Professor Iain Donnison, Head of the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, about the changes we can expect to see to our gardens as the UK works towards its Net-Zero targets

The garden of the future could look much more like this. Image: Nuccobrain for UKRI

Colourful lawns

Instead of immaculate bowling-green stripes, Net-Zero lawns could be more unruly and dotted with wildflowers. “White clover among the grass is perfect — its nitrogen-fixing roots helps feed the lawn and the flowers are loved by pollinators,” explains Prof Donnison. Grass…

Insects can teach us a surprising amount — including about ourselves.

It all started with a white-eyed fruit fly. In 1910, an associate in the lab of American geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan noticed a male fruit fly that lacked the brick-red eyes of its colony mates. Morgan decided to investigate, and ended up demonstrating the role of chromosomes in passing traits down the generations — a major step in the study of genetics.

The fly behind six Nobel prizes

Illustration of two fruit flies on a background of vegetation
Illustration by Sonny Ross for UK Research and Innovation

Morgan’s revelation was one of the first major discoveries made using the fruit fly, known to generations of scientists as Drosophila melanogaster. Studied since the early 1900s…

BY Buddhini Samarasinghe

The immune system is perhaps the most complex part of the human body outside the central nervous system; an intricate network of cells and molecules that protect us from the dangers of the outside environment. These components have evolved over the course of hundreds of thousands of years to summon, amplify, and modulate one another to generate what can often be a life-saving immune response.

The first stages of an immune response: detecting a threat, summoning help, and launching a counter-attack.

When a pathogen such as a virus infiltrates one of our cells (for example, a cell lining our airway) the cell detects this as ‘foreign’ and produces cytokines; small signalling proteins that…

UK Research and Innovation

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