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Extreme environments are found on the Earth’s surface, its subsurface, oceans, in the atmosphere, and the solar system. The threats we face due to climate change are likely to exacerbate many of the extreme environments found on Earth such as the geographical poles and arid deserts. Developing a better understanding of these changes and how we can adapt is crucial for the future of Earth and its inhabitants.  

At the most extreme, conditions challenge the existence of most known life forms. The guiding vision of Extreme Environments is to understand and harness the physical and biological environments that operate under extreme conditions and stresses, and to develop research that will have tangible impacts on an environmental, technological, economic and societal basis at regional, national and global levels.Through our research, we are seeking to answer fundamental global questions. What drove past changes in the Earth’s climate and how did ecosystems and humanity adapt? How do processes in the Polar Regions amplify the effects of climate change and what are the global impacts of a loss of snow and ice cover? Can we inform society’s transition to a more sustainable and resilient future by predicting future sea level and forecasting extreme events such as storms in space and rogue waves in the ocean? 

Extreme Environments brings together a broad, multi-disciplinary research community from across the University to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing our planet. Our research extends from the depths of the oceans and the beds of the ice sheets to the outer reaches of the atmosphere and beyond, while encompassing scales from micro-meteorology and microbial biodiversity to climate dynamics and sun-earth interactions.

While we have major research strengths in space weather forecasting, and in cold and palaeo-environments, including the evolution of the Earth’s great ice sheets and their interaction with the ocean and broader climate system, our range of expertise includes: geophysical analysis, subglacial processes, environmental monitoring, atmospheric circulation, snow modelling, polar/alpine fieldwork, fluid dynamics, 3D & 4D modelling and visualisation, nonlinear and dynamical systems analysis, machine learning, observational solar physics, space plasma physics, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, geomicrobiology, biogeochemistry, geochemistry/mineralogy, microbial community analyses, human-environment interactions, effects of environmental change on society.

Theme Lead

Professor Adrian Jenkins

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