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UTAS

University of Tasmania
Country: Australia
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21 Projects, page 1 of 5
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/M007421/1
    Funder Contribution: 7,056 GBP

    The oceans are not warming evenly and those areas that are warming fastest are becoming the world's natural laboratories for research to increase scientific understanding, knowledge and tools to allow us to adapt wisely, efficiently and effectively in order to meet the challenges of a warming environment. Such 'hotspots' occur in all regions of the globe, from polar to tropical, and affect developed and developing countries. However, poor coastal communities in low-income countries are those where the impact will be felt most acutely, and where impacts of climate change are most likely to exacerbate existing inequalities and social tension. There are no simple, conventional solutions to addressing adaptation to climate change in poor communities. Practical experience and scientific information from these areas is limited and there is an urgent need to improve and test the theories that underpins existing efforts. This project will develop an innovative rapid approach to integrate and apply global scientific and local information and knowledge. The approach will be applied in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries affected by a marine hotspot and will work as a case study for applying to other global hotspots. At its core is an expert workshop, which will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of world-leading researchers with experience from climate change adaptation on the larger, global-scale, regional experts and specialists with detailed knowledge of the hotspot area, and community representatives who can provide a rich local understanding, knowledge and context. Together they will identify key areas of environmental change and their likely consequences for local populations. They will explore adaptive solutions, develop recommendations for future action to minimize societal impacts on low-income communities in the hotspot region, and most use experiences and information from this participatory process to develop and test current theories for developing climate change adaptation strategies. The scientific insights generated by the research will be included in a synthesis paper, and in dissemination/awareness materials targeting the local audience. While this project will not be able to test current theories by implementation, it will provide a valuable opportunity for intensive discussion and exchange on adaptive solutions between experts in the theory and coastal stakeholders who are intimately familiar with their own circumstances and needs. The outcomes from the project will therefore enrich current understanding of adaptation and adaptive capacity and generate proposals for revising it where necessary.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/M014983/1
    Funder Contribution: 283,032 GBP

    Over the last several years, the strongly inhomogeneous nature of atmospheric and oceanic mixing in diverse situations has become increasingly apparent, as high resolution numerical simulations and observations begin to represent accurately the detailed spatial structure of air and water masses and their constituents. Mixing is now known to be confined to distinct latitudinal regions, often separated by sharp gradients that indicate dynamical transport barriers. Inhomogeneous mixing by waves and eddies in atmospheres and oceans is intrinsically linked to the presence of zonally aligned jets, which not only arise as a result of the eddy mixing, but also organize the mixing in distinct latitudinal regions. The combined effect is a dynamical feedback that is now known to operate under very general conditions. Inhomogeneous mixing is important for the transport of constituents such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone, heat, and salinity; their inhomogeneous re-distribution impacts both global radiative balances and regional climate change. Despite recent advances, a complete understanding of the way zonal jets organize inhomogeneous mixing, in particular the vertical structure of such mixing, remains elusive. Progress in understanding the horizontal structure of jets and mixing has been made recently, in particular by focusing on the potential vorticity, a key dynamical quantity that contains information about both horizontal rotational motion and density stratification. The aim of this project is to build on that recent work to develop a complete theory for the vertical structure of jets and mixing. In doing so, it will contribute to our understanding both of the structure of the dominant jet structures in the atmosphere and oceans, as well as providing predictions of how they will reach dynamical equilibrium under different forcing conditions, conditions that may change in a changing climate. It is anticipated that the new theory will allow us to assess the robustness of predictions made by climate models, which are now beginning to accurately represent the complexities inherent in jet structures. As well as advancing our fundamental understanding of basic dynamical processes, we will study four specific issues of current importance in climate science: (i) systematic transport of trace chemicals within the stratosphere; (ii) the coupling of the stratospheric and tropospheric circulations; (iii) the consequences of a climatic shift in the tropospheric jet stream; and (iv) inhomogeneous transport and mixing associated with jets in the Southern Ocean. The project highlights how advances in fundamental science can be effectively combined with directed goals driven by specific applications.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/L006065/1
    Funder Contribution: 726,620 GBP

    We aim to decrease the uncertainty associated with the measurement of ice mass change in West Antarctica by addressing our lack of knowledge of Earth structure and accuracy of present-day uplift rates. Ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) currently accounts for around 10% of present-day global sea-level rise. Moreover, this region is undergoing accelerated ice loss. Accurate projections for the evolution of WAIS are currently hindered by uncertainties in measurements of present-day ice mass change. Two key methods for deriving this change are satellite gravimetry, which determines changes in Earth's gravity field due to surface mass redistribution, and altimetry, which measures modifications to the height of the ice surface. Crucially, both of these techniques are susceptible to errors introduced by correcting for the uplift response of the solid Earth to past ice mass loss, a process known as Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA). GIA models require information relating to the regional deglaciation history and the rheological properties of the solid Earth. In most GIA models only 1D global averages of Earth structure are taken in to account; this is a gross oversimplification. We propose to determine (i) 3D Earth structure in West Antarctica and Antarctic Peninsula through a new passive seismological experiment and (ii) present-day uplift rates through the extension of a NERC-funded GPS network in the Peninsula and new spatially extensive satellite radar interferometry data (InSAR). We will deploy 10 broadband seismometers for 2 years, adjacent to a contemporaneous 2 year POLENET deployment, to estimate 3D variations in Earth rheology by determining S-wave velocity-depth models down to depths of 400 km. Seismic data have never been collected in the southern Antarctic Peninsula region of West Antarctica, and hence very little is known about its Earth structure. The determination of lithospheric structure will also improve our understanding of the tectonic evolution of the region. We propose a 3 year PDRA to carry out the fieldwork and seismological research. Long time series of surface deformation measurements are important to our understanding of uplift rates due to GIA. A network of 10 GPS sites has been deployed in the southern Antarctic Peninsula since 2009 under a now terminating NERC/AFI grant. At minor additional financial cost, but with significant scientific benefit, we propose to operate this network for a further 2 years. Our Project Partner Matt King (University of Tasmania) will oversee the processing of these data. The seismic structure results will be incorporated into a 3D GIA model as an addition to CI Whitehouse's Fellowship work; a 1.5 year PDRA will combine the GIA and deformation results to more tightly constrain past and present ice mass change in the southern Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica. While the sparse network of GPS will constrain the deformation pattern on a broad scale, we expect smaller wavelength variability in deformation due to present-day ice mass change. Therefore, we plan to apply satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) to the rock outcrops in West Antarctica to increase the spatial sampling of the deformation field by orders of magnitude. Because distances between rock outcrops can be large, the spatial variability of the tropospheric radar propagation delay during interferometric processing has to be estimated from weather models. We propose to test these assumptions with a local field deployment of 6 GPS in the Antarctic Peninsula. The timing of this grant proposal is critical as 1) BAS logistics are already in place for the funded 2 year iStar programme in the south of the region; 2) US POLENET seismometers will temporarily be positioned to the south and significantly extend our station coverage; 3) the grant supporting the GPS network is ending.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/N001745/2
    Funder Contribution: 269,782 GBP

    Over the last decades, oceanographers have been searching for the missing mixing in the ocean to complete the ocean energy budget. Answering questions of where energy is added to the oceans, and where it is removed, helps us to understand the drivers of ocean circulation. With the advent of high-resolution satellite measurements of surface currents in the 1990s, scientists could see that the oceans were filled with swirling vortices of water called mesoscale eddies. While eddies are present in all ocean basins, with currents inside the eddies sometimes exceeding 1 m/s, they disappear from satellite measurements preferentially at western boundaries. There are several possibilities for why eddies disappear at western boundaries: they may radiate energy away, contribute energy to large scale ocean circulation, or lose energy locally through turbulence and dissipation. Of these candidate terms, previous work has suggested that local dissipation is strong enough to explain a substantial part of the eddy disappearance. Our aim is to determine how and why eddies are losing energy at the western boundaries. These results and our measurements will then be made available to scientists involved in numerical simulations of the ocean. As a longer-term goal, the results of our research may help guide how eddies are represented in ocean models, which is one of the critical areas needing improvement in climate simulations. However, due to the fledgling nature of the science in this field, that eventual goal is still several steps away. Fundamental physics dictate that most eddies move slowly westward, and these eddies are visible in satellite measurements of sea surface height a few months before they arrive at the boundary. In the project MeRMEED, we will watch the eddies in near real-time satellite data, and when an appropriate eddy approaches the east coast of North America, we will deploy a small team of researchers, with advanced instruments, to meet the eddy upon arrival. There, we will survey the eddy using high-resolution profilers deployed from small boats and autonomous underwater vehicles called Seagliders. After the ship-based survey is completed, the gliders will continue to observe the eddies for several months, as the eddies are slowly disappearing. These gliders transmit their measurements via satellite communications back to our base station in England. We also plan to use the existing observations from the joint UK/US-funded RAPID programme, measuring ocean circulation at 26N. We will install additional high-resolution velocity and temperature meters on one of these moorings, to make continuous observations of the eddies over 18 months. From the survey, glider and moored measurements, we will be able to assess how important local dissipation is to the disappearance of eddies. We will use our findings to shed light on the processes responsible for eddy disappearance from the oceans, and how those processes change in time.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: ES/R003424/1
    Funder Contribution: 232,033 GBP

    Smoking remains the primary cause of preventable death and disease in the UK. Last year alone, 96,000 people in the UK died prematurely as a direct result of smoking and more than double this number of children took up smoking to take their place. As the 'average' smoker, smoking 12 cigarettes per day, will view their cigarette pack at least 4,300 times a year, the cigarette pack offers governments a unique tool to communicate the health impacts of smoking. The introduction of standardised (i.e., plain) packaging of cigarettes in the UK will mean that health warnings on packs are more noticeable. However, in order for this landmark legislation to be effective, these health warnings need to be sending out the right messages. Although health warnings with strong, threatening images and messages are used on cigarette packs in over 100 countries, there is evidence that smokers may avoid them or react negatively towards them. Theory suggests that warnings are most likely to result in positive behaviour change if they combine threatening messages with those which increase a smoker's perceived ability to stop smoking and knowledge of the benefits of stopping (known as 'efficacy' messages). Despite this, there has been very little research on the impact of efficacy messages on tobacco warnings, no research on how adolescents respond to efficacy messages and almost no adoption of efficacy messages on tobacco warnings globally. This project will address these key issues by examining responses to warnings with 'efficacy' and 'threatening' content and developing research on what constitutes effective warnings. This research is critically important given the potential for health warnings to educate individuals about the risks of smoking and encourage them to stop. It will apply a strong theoretical framework to examine the roles of efficacy and threatening content on warnings among both adults and adolescents. Given that two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18, there is surprisingly little research on the impact of warnings among adolescents. My research will address this critical gap in the literature. This project is timely and important, not only because of the recent introduction of standardised packaging of cigarettes. Britain's exit from the EU will provide the UK government with a unique opportunity to implement new warnings and strengthen tobacco control policies, as these will no longer be enforced by the EU-wide Tobacco Products Directive. I will conduct online surveys among adults and adolescents smokers. These surveys will examine, for the first time, responses to threatening and efficacy warnings and their impact on attitudes towards smoking. I will then use the findings of these studies to conduct two 'mixed methods studies' among adults and adolescents to measure self-reported reactions, brain activation and smoking behaviour in response to health warnings. My research uses a unique combination of innovative approaches combining subjective and objective techniques. This research is novel in a number of ways. First, it will provide objective and previously unexplored insights into differences in response to warnings among adults and adolescents. Second, it will develop our understanding of the mechanisms underlying responses to efficacy and threatening warnings. Finally, it will produce the first evidence demonstrating how neural and subjective responses to warnings are related and how these predict longer-term smoking behaviours and attitudes. This research will support the development of better, more effective warnings for tobacco products and provide a toolkit for the development of effective warnings for a range of unhealthy products, such as alcohol and unhealthy food, which can be used by academics and policymakers internationally. This project ultimately aims to reduce the rates of premature death and disease caused by smoking by providing evidence to support tobacco packaging policy change.

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