Friday, 20 December 2013

The top 10 most viewed CEH news & blog posts of 2013

We hope you've found our content interesting and informative throughout the year but, of course, not everything will be to everyone's tastes. Here is a little (slightly unscientific!) insight into what news and blogs you were reading the most in 2013, in traditional reverse order:

Top 10 most viewed news stories

10. Distinctly autumnal feel to May as below average temperatures persist
The cold spring was still hanging around, but a warm summer wasn't too far away.

9. Ecologists get first bumblebees' eye view of the landscape
Scientists produced the most detailed picture yet of how bumblebees use the landscape, thanks to DNA technology and remote sensing.

8. Introducing the Hydrological Outlook
CEH and a number of partners had been working for a while on developing a long-range hydrological forecast for the UK.

7. Cocktail of multiple pressures combine to threaten the world's pollinating insects
Not one cause, but a combination of pressures including pesticides, disease and loss of food resources are threatening insect pollinators such as bumblebees and honeybees.

6. Are tropical forests resilient to global warming?
Tropical forests are less likely to lose biomass in response to greenhouse gas emissions over the 21st century than may previously have been thought.

5. Britain's rarest freshwater fish, the Vendace, reappears in Bassenthwaite Lake
The vendace made an unexpected reappearance in Bassenthwaite Lake in north-west England, more than a decade after being declared 'locally extinct'.

4. Tropical rainforests, 'lungs of the planet', reveal true sensitivity to global warming
The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed or produced by tropical rainforests varies hugely with year-to-year variations in the climate, revealing their vulnerability to climate change.

3. Smarter use of nutrients can help protect human health and the environment
A new report highlighted how humans have massively altered the natural flows of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients, and how better management can help protect the environment, climate and human health.

2. Puffin count on Isle of May NNR gives surprising result
Despite severe spring weather, the worst fears for puffins weren't realised: a census revealed that Atlantic puffin numbers on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve off Scotland's east coast were at similar levels to 2009.

1. Mobile phone app to help monitor UK's native ladybirds after foreign invasion
iRecord Ladybirds, a free mobile phone app, was launched to help the public record ladybird species, including the invasive Harlequin ladybirds. All interest in the app, and a fantastic number of records, have been gratefully received by our scientists!

Top 10 most viewed blog posts

10.  INTECOL news round-up: pollinators, citizen science and land use
A number of CEH staff presented at the 11th INTECOL Congress in London, the world's largest international ecology meeting, and this post tried to highlight what they said.

9. Cleaner air for all - searching for solutions to air pollution at Green Week 2013
Air quality was the theme for this year's event in Brussels, and CEH expertise was on hand to lead and join in with some of the discussions.

8. We're going on a Bug Hunt!
Science can be fun too, as ecologists and pupils taking part in a hugely successful Bug Day at a school near Rugby can confirm.

7. Filming at CEH's met site in Wallingford
Wet weather at the end of 2012 and into 2013 meant a busy start to the year for the CEH Press Office, with several media requests to interview our hydrologists.

6. Building environmental links in Beijing
Environmental researchers in China and the UK have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore collaboration opportunities. Recovery of polluted environments, water management, food security and soil management were all discussed during a meeting in April.

5. Biodiversity offsetting - the science behind the policy
More information on how CEH provides independent and impartial scientific advice for the tricky topic of biodiversity offsetting.

4. Nitrogen narratives in Nairobi - confessions of a reluctant blogger
Professor Mark Sutton experiences life at the sharp end of the science-policy debate.

3. A revolution in ladybird recording
Ladybirds are charismatic insects and so it isn't surprising that people in Britain have been enthusiastically recording them for centuries.

2. Assessing the 2013 Atlantic Puffin wreck
Our two most viewed blog posts of the year are actually on the same topic, indicating the huge interest at the time, and some of the uncertainty, around a puffin wreck in Eastern Scotland and NE England.

1. Puffin wreck in Scotland
Multiple unusual deaths of puffins were noticed on the east coast of Scotland NE England in the last week of March. One of the world's foremost authorities on puffin, Professor Mike Harris, gave insights into the emerging story.

You can read more about CEH research and news over the past twelve months in our annual review of the year on the CEH News Centre. Just a final thanks to all our contributors and, of course, to our readers. More to come in 2014 but in the meantime, Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

Paulette Burns and Barnaby Smith

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Construction, biodiversity and natural capital: discussing the challenges

Our latest guest blog is from Business Development Manager Dr Joanne Chamberlain on a recent first meeting between CEH and a construction industry group looking to address some of the environmental challenges their sector faces:

Last week, on 10 December, CEH hosted a visit from the UK Constructors Group (UKCG) for Biodiversity. UKCG is the primary trade association for contractors operating in the UK, and represents more than 30 leading contractors operating in the UK on construction specific issues. Between them, UKCG members account for £33 billion of construction turnover, a third of UK construction total output involving projects building hospitals, schools, offices and housing, as well as large infrastructure projects. UKCG has an Environment working group with an expert task force on Biodiversity, whose aim is to represent the views of contractors within government, promote best practice, and mitigate regulatory and legislative risk.

The UKCG for Biodiversity met with scientists at CEH to open up a discussion and assess the potential for collaboration around topics that included natural capital, ecological survey data and biodiversity offsetting. The construction industry has a number of challenges in these areas, and the group are keen to work with CEH in solving some of these problems. The UKCG aims to ensure a net gain in biodiversity in the work they undertake and enhance connectivity between developments and the wider landscape.

The construction industry has challenges in areas such as natural capital,  ecological
survey data and biodiversity offsetting.
It was interesting to note that UKCG members often find themselves in a position of having to try to influence, engage and educate their clients on how to incorporate biodiversity into a development. This inevitably results in a number of challenges and compromises, but a desire to have a consistent approach across the industry and demonstrate the merits of conserving and enhancing natural capital within a development is driving the group.

Dr Joanne Chamberlain

Additional information

CEH website: Biodiversity offsetting - relevant research

CEH blog: Biodiversity offsetting - the science behind the policy

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

CEH-led paper charts at number 42 in top 100 list of academic research catching the public's imagination in 2013

The company Altmetric has just published its list of the 100 research papers that received the most attention online in 2013. Altmetric track who's saying what about academic papers within social media and online news articles. The analysis is embedded in several journal websites, including those from the Nature Publications Group. 

Dr Chris Huntingford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology was the lead author of the paper at number 42 on the Altmetric list, "No increase in global temperature variability despite changing regional patterns". It was published in July in the journal Nature.

Chris tells us that, "The study which led to the Nature publication was a team effort, and the analysis took over a year to complete with CEH kindly allocating me time to complete the final paper. The paper provides insights into how variability in temperature is changing both in time and geographically. Ongoing research into weather fluctuations and extremes is needed, as changes in weather patterns might prove to be as important as any general climate change in a greenhouse gas enriched environment. CEH and the other NERC centre/surveys are working with the Met Office and key university departments to aid public safety through such transitions. This will be by informing of adaptation measures that may be needed."

Chris adds, "The titles of the top 100 papers make fascinating reading as a snapshot of issues of concern or interest, and I would recommend anyone with a spare moment to take a look at the list."

You can find out more about how Altmetric collect data and put this list together on their blog. In true 'BBC style' we would like to point out there are many other ways of determining the 'impact' of a single research paper!

Barnaby Smith, Media Relations Manager, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Huntingford et al. (2013) No increase in global temperature variability despite changing regional patterns. 500, 327–330 (15 August 2013) doi:10.1038/nature12310Nature.