Seasonal Arctic summer ice extent still hard to forecast.

A new study lead by Prof Julienne Stroeve says year-to-year forecasts of the Arctic’s summer ice extent are not yet reliable.

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Research Excellence


RAE 2008 Outcome

In the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the UCL Earth Science Department was ranked 3rd best of all 42 Earth and Environmental Science Departments in the UK - falling just behind Cambridge and Oxford. Our average score of 3.05 also put us 4th in the ranking of all UCL departments across all subjects. The RAE panel identified as of particular merit the breadth of our research, and our research into planetary sciences, polar ice sheet dynamics, studies of the Earth’s deep interior, and past climate change and biology in the oceans. This is a testament to the quality and depth of our research, and one of which we are particularly proud.

Our Approach to Research

The Earth Sciences is a particular strength of the United Kingdom and the Department of Earth Sciences at UCL has maintained a tradition of excellence in Geology and Earth Sciences since 1841. It has done so by adapting its research and teaching in the light of the discoveries of 19th, 20th and 21st century physics, chemistry and biology, and the changing needs of society to understand our planet and its environment. In addition to the permanent academic staff, the department’s research benefits from the presence of substantive Research Fellows, Post-doctoral Researchers and a vibrant research student community.

Our aim is to maintain and extend our tradition of excellence through recognising the present trends and demands in the Earth Sciences, and in particular:

  • The intellectual challenge to understand the interactions within the Earth and
  • planetary interiors and their surface manifestations;
  • The need to understand the past and present Earth as a whole system, in
  • which the solid Earth, the oceans, ice sheets and the atmosphere are
  • interacting components which modify, and are modified by, biological life;
  • The political, economic and societal implications of pressures on the Earth’s
  • environment arising from the exponential growth in population and economic
  • activity, and their impact on climate, and water, food and mineral resources.
  • The recent growth in importance of short time-scale issues such as climate change, environmental risk, natural hazards and loss of biodiversity.

We recognise the impact on these challenges of modern technology and instrumentation, and in particular:

  • The ever-increasing capability of computing to simulate the complex
  • interactions that result in the Earth as it is, at the atomic and continuum
  • scales, with wide application to understanding thermodynamic and dynamic
  • processes in and on the Earth and planets;
  • The impact of space-based platforms in observing the Earth at large scales
  • either through direct observation or through the maintenance of a precise,
  • Earth-wide geodetic reference frames;
  • The complexity of and feedback between Earth processes that makes sustaining empirical, laboratory-based investigations essential to the discipline.
  • The importance of scientific deep drilling, both on the continents and in the deep oceans, for accessing sub-surface samples and for ground-truthing model predictions.

UCL has developed an institution-wide research strategy that aims to draw on its exceptional breadth to address the global "Grand Challenges" of Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interactions and Human Well-being. It builds on the core competencies of its excellent disciplinary Departments through cross-cutting, multi-disciplinary initiatives aimed at global impact. The Earth Sciences, whose central concern is the scientific understanding of our environment and its limited resources, can make fundamental contributions to these aims. The Earth Sciences Department intends to maintain and strengthen its core competencies and to ally these in wider collaborations, both within and without the MAPS Faculty and the College, to increase the impact and wider application of its research and teaching. The Department regards maintaining the excellence of its individual staff as the key to success in these aims.

UCL Earth Sciences · Gower Street London WC1E 6BT · +44 (0)20 7679 2363
earthsci@ucl.ac.uk · more