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Manchester Environmental Research Institute

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Our changing Earth system

The Earth is changing at an unprecedented rate, our research sets out to understand why and contribute to the challenge of living in the Anthropocene.

Globally, human activity is causing significant changes to the Earth. The effects of these changes are complex and rapidly evolving, and we need to ensure that they do not interfere with the Earth's delicately balanced systems. We need to adapt to our changing environment and we need to understand the nature, causes and impact of these changes.

MERI brings together the natural and social sciences to provide a unique breadth of expertise to understand the physical, biological and chemical changes in the Earth system and make a major contribution to the challenge of living in the modern age.

Our research spans several areas and comes together to inform and guide change in our society, policies and lifestyles.

Our key areas:

Climate change

Climate change is one of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. MERI’s cross-disciplinary approach to climate change research allows us to tackle the challenge from multiple angles at once. Our researchers specialise in areas to understand the physical basis of climate change and mitigation, including measuring greenhouse gas emissions, climate modelling, energy systems, and carbon budgets of natural ecosystems. Our strong links to the Sustainable Futures platform enable us to influence management, political and social responses, which contribute to making our society healthier and more sustainable.

History of our Earth

Studying the Earth’s environmental history and how past human populations interacted with it gives us valuable insight into contemporary environmental change. By studying key areas such as landscape evolution, geochronology, geological influences on past climate, palaeoclimates, palaeoecology and palaeontology, our experts can identify trends in the data that may pave the way to action that could mitigate current and future environmental change.

Perturbations to the environment

We are impacting and affecting the earth system in multiple ways, from pollution incidents to the degradation of ecosystems.

Extreme events such as floods, hurricanes and wildfires that decimate human habitation and the local environments are due in part to climate change and our interactions with the environment. It is our responsibility to be aware of these impacts and mitigate its damage. Our researchers look at the physical, biological, and chemical processes that drive this impact and we are developing novel solutions to assess, manage and mitigate these changes.

Areas of particular focus include pollution, extreme events, environmental tipping points and thresholds, and ecosystem service quantification/valuation.