Skip to main content

Image showing Yellow Wagtail

Between Friday 11 and Sunday 20 March, we’re celebrating British Science Week. In our final story of the week, we’re reflecting on how our researchers are using their knowledge to understand how climate change is impacting the world around us.

Climate change might make winter bird migration a thing of the past

Experts from our Department of Biosciences think this is a possibility after new research found that some species of trans-Saharan migratory birds, like Nightingales and Willow Warblers, are spending as many as 50-60 fewer days a year in their non-breeding grounds in Africa.

The research was the first to look at how long trans-Saharan migratory birds are spending in their traditional winter retreats in Africa.

Using over 50 years of bird records collated by ornithologists in The Gambia and Gibraltar, our experts explored the arrival and departure dates of migratory birds over time. They also related these observed changes to changes in climate and vegetation.

Melting ice sheets caused sea levels to rise by up to 18 metres

Research led by our Geography department has found that previous ice loss events caused sea-levels to rise around 3.6 metres per century, offering vital clues as to what lies ahead should climate change continue.

Research postgraduate Yucheng Lin worked with Dr Pippa Whitehouse, Dr Sarah Woodroffe and Prof. Ian Shennan, using geological records of past sea levels, to determine which ice sheets were responsible for a rapid sea-level rise in Earth’s recent past.

Geological records tell us that, at the end of the last ice age around 14,600 years ago, sea levels rose at ten times the current rate due to Meltwater Pulse 1A (MWP-1A); a 500 year, ~18 metre sea-level rise event.

Find out more