International Earth Day

Tuesday 22nd April has been designated by the UN as International Mother Earth Day. It is a day of action where people from all over the planet do something on behalf of the environment – through local campaigns to pick up litter, plant trees and clean up their communities, to online activism to contact their elected officials and influence policy changes. The University of Edinburgh contributes in part by carrying out original research and freely sharing this knowledge with the world adding to the growing global body of knowledge.

We wanted to highlight some of the materials in our Open Access collections that looks at research themes closely related to #MotherEarthDay – including sustainable development, renewable energy and global climate change:

1. Reducing uncertainty in predictions of the response of Amazonian forests to climate change (Lucy Rowland, PhD 2013)

Our understanding of global climate change is mainly based on computer modelling. To date there are few studies which have comprehensively tested vegetation models using ecological data from Amazon forests. Using data this thesis presents an investigation of how tropical forests respond to changes in climate and with what certainty scientists can model these changes in order to predict the response of Amazon forests to predicted future climate change.

2. Climate change uncertainty evaluation, impacts modelling and resilience of farm scale dynamics in Scotland (Michael Rivington, PhD 2011)

Climate change is a global phenomena that will have a wide range of local impacts on land use. The work undertaken in this PhD thesis indicates that agriculture in Scotland has the potential to cope with the impacts but that substantial changes are required in farming practices

3. Making sustainable development a reality: A study of the social processes of community-led sustainable development and the buy-out of the Isle of Gigha, Scotland (Robert Didham, PhD 2007)

This PhD thesis examines the concept of sustainable development with a primary focus on its advancement and implementation at a local level. This work is based on original ethnographic research that was conducted on the Isle of Gigha, Scotland following the community buy-out of the island that occurred in 2002.

4. Climate change and renewable energy portfolios (Dougal Burnett, PhD 2012)

The UK has a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. This will see the proportion of energy generated in the UK from renewable resources such as wind, solar, marine and bio-fuels is increasing and likely to dominate the future energy market over the next few decades. This PhD thesis explores the influence of climate change on renewable electricity generation portfolios and energy security in the UK, with the aim of determining if climate change will affect renewable energy resource in such a way that may leave future low carbon generation portfolios sub-optimal.

5. An Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Hydroelectric Power (Gareth Harrison, PhD 2001)

This PhD thesis describes a methodology to assess the potential impact of climatic change on hydropower investment, and details the implementation of a technique for quantifying changes in profitability and risk. A case study is presented as an illustration, the results of which are analysed with respect to the implications for future provision of hydropower, as well as our ability to limit the extent of climatic change.