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  • Kate Calvert 7:53 am on August 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antarctica, ice melt, sea levels   

    Antarctic Problems 

    Info provided by Northumbria Uni in the hope of recruiting more students – but worrying stuff

    Fresh understanding of West Antarctica has revealed how the region’s ice sheet could become unstable in a warming world.

    Scientists from Northumbria University, the University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, have determined how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet reacted to a period of warming after the coldest point of the most recent Ice Age, some 21,000 years ago.

    As the Earth warmed, the ice sheet reached a tipping point after which it thinned relatively quickly, losing 400m of thickness in 3,000 years, researchers found. This caused sea levels around the world to increase by up to two metres. Their findings will help scientists understand how the region may behave under future environmental change.

    Researchers studied peaks protruding through ice in the Ellsworth Mountains on the Atlantic coast of the continent, to determine how the land’s ice coverage has changed since the Ice Age. Scientists used chemical technology – known as exposure dating – to calculate how long rocks on the mountainside had been free from ice cover. They used their results to determine how the height of the ice sheet had changed over thousands of years.

    They found that this sector of the ice sheet – close to the Weddell Sea – had remained covered with thick ice long after other parts of the Earth had begun to emerge from the Ice Age. Heavier snowfall, caused by warmer air, probably helped to maintain the ice thickness. As the seas warmed, ice at the coast began to be lost to the oceans. Eventually, a tipping point was reached after which the ice sheet thinned more rapidly, retreating inland. The study was published in Nature Communications. It was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

    Professor John Woodward, of Northumbria University, said: “Ice sheets never quite respond in the way we would expect – in a warming world some ice sheets become unstable and collapse, yet some grow larger due to increased snow fall. This study helps us understand the timing of such responses in west Antarctica.”

    Dr Andrew Hein of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who jointly led the study, concurred, saying: “West Antarctica has undergone complex changes since the last Ice Age, and it quickly became unstable – similar processes may dominate the future of the region in a warmer world.”

    Cold and paleo environments are one of Northumbria’s research specialisms in the Department of Geography. Research involves field based projects in cold regions across the globe, including Antarctica, a range of high Arctic European and Canadian sites, New Zealand, the Alps, Alaska and Chile.

    The group applies novel techniques to field data collection, including ground-penetrating radar, new borehole radar technologies, seismics, NIR camera techniques, meteorological monitoring technologies, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), to address fundamental questions in Earth Systems Science. Cutting-edge physical and numerical modelling, remote sensing and laboratory techniques for palaeo-environmental work are also applied.

  • Adam Hardy 8:32 pm on August 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: litter   

    Starting campaign against litter, rubbish and dumping @islingtonbc 

    I went on holiday for a week to the countryside and talked to a couple of people who both said, “Oh London is great for a day but I couldn’t live there, too dirty!”.

    I’ve always known it’s dirty but I’m sure like everyone else here I manage to block it out and not be bothered by it most of the time.

    On the beach on holiday, we picked up and threw away the half dozen or so bits of rubbish that we came across during the day. At home again last Sunday, we went to the park and within 5 minutes had seen about 100 bits of rubbish and litter. I explained to my 4-year-old that we would never get anything else done if we spent all our time picking up all the litter we saw here.

    And at the moment it is actually clean around here compared to June and July!


    This bag has been sitting on our pavement right outside our church since before we went away and it’s still there. I couldn’t pick it up because it’s so heavy so I left it.

    I see 2 problems:

    • the way rubbish is collected by Islington BC and everyone and every business leaving rubbish in fragile plastic bags that spill frequently and let their contents blow down the street
    • the general grottiness of much of our neighbourhoods with bad paving, lack of greenery, miserable architecture, damaged and delapidated street furniture all doesn’t inspire anyone to think twice about dropping litter or dumping their unwanted stuff out on the street for someone else to deal with

    Let’s start letting people in the council know that this depressing and grotty situation has to change.

    Fortunately LB Islington have made it easy with an app: Islington Street Cleansing

    Next post, I’ll put up the link to email the councillors.


  • susan640 12:39 pm on August 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply  


    A bit late in noting this, but on Thursday 11 August the tawny owl was hooting extensively from the Archway Cuttings North East (the sloping woodland just to the north of the Archway Bridge), at around 10.30 at night. So good to hear him! I am hoping that he has established himself there.

    Another good nature note: two thrushes in and out of the trees to the north of the games pitches in Elthorne Park, N19, spotted today. Islington Council’s Greenspace department is managing Elthorne Park with wildlife in mind. They also have a wildflower meadow which has an abundance of teasels and wild carrot, popular with insects.

    Wild Carrot

    Wild Carrot

  • susan640 3:57 pm on August 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: St Anne's Brookfield   

    Share offer for St Anne’s Brookfield solar panels now open! 

    Power Up North London are now inviting members of the public to invest in the solar panels on St Anne’s Church, and are issuing a £30,100 share offer. The share offer is now open, and live on Crowdfunder at

    The share offer will close on 2 September, or earlier if the target amount is reached.

    If you have any questions please do get in touch, with , meanwhile this is a great opportunity to invest in community renewable energy.

  • susan640 3:55 pm on August 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

  • Adam Hardy 1:35 pm on August 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Walking Zone project – Air Quality awareness in Finsbury Park / Manor House schools 

    Stroud Green Primary (Haringey), Parkwood Primary (Hackney) and Grafton Primary in Islington have now finished the “Walking Zone” project where each school created air quality maps in guided workshops, held pupil-led assemblies, and ran on-street campaigns.

    Their aim was to create a modal shift away from car travel for the school run, and an increase in awareness of pupils of the air pollution issues and protection strategies.

    As I linked to here – The best way to teach adults to save energy might be through their children – children will bring the message into homes better than adults will (harnessing ‘pester power’!)

    The mapping workshops focused on creating a 5 – 10 minute walking zone and healthy exercise map for each school and culminated in a final orienteering event for all 3 schools starting at the Islington Ecology Centre. Throughout the project the schools were also filmed, so that this could be used to promote active travel after the project was finished.  Each school received 3 workshops, followed by a pupil led assembly and on-street campaign.

    Manor House Air Quality Project – PWLC Cut from Andrew Davies on Vimeo.

    The schools received walking zone banners, walking zone booklets for each pupil, and stickers for each pupil to promote their map.

    The Walking Zone project was actually a follow-up to the 2014/15 “Air Quality” project in which the 3 schools and 6 other schools had:

    • a launch assembly
    • lessons in testing the air quality and analysing the data citizen-science style
    • literacy lessons to create campaign materials to inform the school and wider community about air pollution and protection strategies
    • final pupil show and tell assembly
    • on-street campaigning
    • competition to design posters to go on to the final banner – each school received two air quality banners

    The 2015 Air Quality project used lessons, workshops, citizen science activities and assemblies to:

    • Raise awareness of the risks of air pollution
    • Engage pupils in local air quality monitoring
    • Identify how students can protect themselves
    • Help pupils and families know what they can do to reduce their own impact on air quality, in particular with regard to changing travel behaviour
    • Improve the schools travel plan and contribute to STARS accreditation

    Some of the data is summarised in the report AQ Project Exec Summary Dec ’15

    Funding for both projects was made available through the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund (, to support schemes ranging from infrastructure through to education/ behaviour change. The 3 local authorities had bid jointly to the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, focusing on the Manor House and Finsbury Park area.

    I need to dig around a bit to find out what plans there are to keep up the momentum on this, especially interesting considering the new Mayor appears to be taking the whole air quality in London issue a lot more seriously.

  • susan640 11:14 am on July 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    LETTER PUBLISHED IN ISLINGTON TRIBUNE : Six foot fences and funfair din mean park is no paradise 

    Val Hammond’s letter to the local press was linked in the DEPAVE item below via Meg Howarth’s comment, and I thought it should be given greater prominence, so it is copied below. The use of park space for large commercial events is seen as a money-provider by cash-strapped councils, and the same use, noise, fencing off, and general knackeration of a public park is happening in Finsbury Park. Here the Friends of Finsbury Park lost their high court case to stop Haringey Council from allowing the Wireless festival/concert to take over 27% of the park when the rules say that such events can only cover 10% of a public park. I have not been able to find out why Mr Justice Supperstone ruled in favour of Haringey Council and Wireless. Money is talking to the Councils over the opportunity of residents to peaceful enjoyment of their parks and gardens at the hottest times of the year..

    Letter to the Islington Tribune:
    Published: 29 July, 2016

    • FOR the second time in just over a month, another 10-day funfair has rolled in to Paradise Park. The previous occupation left large areas of ground stripped of grass, with deep tyre ruts in the exposed soil – the result of rides and machinery in operation, and of heavy vehicles entering and exiting this green space adjacent to Freightliners City Farm.

    June’s fair was to have been held in Caledonian Park but was relocated at short notice – apparently to avoid further upsetting residents engaged in a long-running campaign against the building of a visitors’ centre.

    Despite the council’s determination to push it through, the widely-unpopular scheme is currently in doubt, so a bit of “softly, softly” by the Town Hall wouldn’t come amiss (Funding decision on visitors’ centre is delayed, July 15).

    Now, Paradise Park is ringed with 6ft-high fencing enclosing the latest heavy-duty funfair paraphernalia. There’s hardly any grass for residents – many of whom don’t have gardens – to sit on and enjoy the summer outdoors.

    Reverberating like an overhead helicopter, the generators powering the rides are so loud that neighbours can’t comfortably leave open their windows. The park is ringed by residential housing and an elderly people’s home.

    Residents had no prior warning about either fair – while the operator of the current one wasn’t told about the previous one. No wonder they’re reporting poor entry sales that are barely covering the cost of running the rides. Like the June fair, which made little profit, the same is likely to be the case with the current one.

    What has Councillor Claudia Webbe, executive member for the environment, got to say about the failure to consult residents, and the foreseeable noise disturbance and nuisance they’re enduring?

    Why did she permit a second fair on an already damaged site in one of the borough’s popular green spaces? Is the smoke from the Highbury Fields barbecues blinding Cllr Webbe to what’s going on elsewhere in the borough – or is she distracted by national political events?

    Crossley Street, N7

  • Adam Hardy 9:31 am on July 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply

    Tracking climate change with your smartphone 

    If you’ve got a smartphone and notice all the little things in nature around you, check this out to help NASA track climate change:

  • susan640 11:12 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply  


    Exciting volunteer movement in Oregon and Canada to remove unwanted areas of concrete and tarmac. People are gathered together to dig up hard surfacing (legitimately!) and replace with planting and seating, according to local need. Useful corporate funding given. Have a look at their websites: and: and

    • Meg Howarth 11:16 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent initiative! Islington should follow – not only increasing greening but reducing flood-risk. Raised this with Bob Gilbert years ago – he agreed but then disappeared from the council scene, alas.

      • susan640 9:29 am on July 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Bob Gilbert has been a huge loss to Islington – am constantly regretting his departure.

        Government cutbacks have meant that the Council has reduced its environmental resource greatly – also do not feel that the Labour administration is anything like as committed as the Lib Dems were. Councillor Paul Smith when Environment Lead could not have cared less, and there has not been much sign of concern or enthusiasm since that I have been able to detect from subsequent Enviornment Lead Councillors – please correct me if I am wrong!.

  • susan640 1:59 pm on July 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply  


    Power Up North London have set up a link for people interested in having a stake in the solar panels – and contributing to the funds to buy them – at St Anne’s church, and it is here:

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