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The University of Southampton

Prestigious lecture examines living with environmental change

Published: 7 November 2008

The impact of climate change, loss of biodiversity and pressure on natural resources, such as energy, water and food, on our lives, is examined at the University of Southampton’s prestigious 9th IBM Hursley Lecture next week.

Professor Alan Thorpe, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), will give the lecture, entitled ‘Living with Environmental Change - The Challenges for Research, Industry and Society’, on Thursday 13 November at the Turner Sims Concert Hall, on the University of Southampton’s Highfield campus.

Professor Thorpe will present the latest scientific evidence of the human footprint on planet Earth and talk about Living With Environmental Change, a multi-organisation multi-disciplinary initiative launched in 2008 to provide decision makers with the best information to effectively manage and protect vital ecosystem services.

He will also discuss the role and urgency for multi-disciplinary research and engagement with industry and the public and stress that the full range of expertise including natural and medical sciences, engineering, economics and social research, arts and humanities will be needed.

Professor Thorpe comments: “Our use of natural resources is causing profound changes to the environment and these are increasingly difficult to cope with.  Scientific research is crucial if we are to find ways to sustain life on planet Earth.  In this lecture, I will outline some latest research findings that point the way to what the future holds.”

Refreshments are available from 5.30pm prior to the start of the lecture, which will begin at 6pm, and end at 7.15pm.  It is open to the public and free to attend but advance booking is required.

Notes for editors

Established in 2000 and sponsored by IBM Hursley Laboratory, the IBM Hursley Lecture series was created to provide an annual lecture at the University with the underlying theme being the interface between science and industry.  Over the years, the University has welcomed a host of distinguished speakers to present the lecture, including Dr John Taylor OBE FRS FREng, Dr Caroline Kovac and Sir David King ScD FRS.

Alan Thorpe graduated from the University of Warwick with a physics degree in 1973 and from Imperial College with a doctorate in atmospheric physics in 1976. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College for five years and after a short interval at the Met Office took up a lectureship in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading in 1982. He became a Professor of Meteorology in 1991 and Head of Department in 1996.

His research involves the basic dynamics and predictability of weather and climate. From 1999 to 2001, Alan was Director of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research. In 2001 he became the first director of the newly-established NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science, which is a distributed NERC Collaborative Centre involving over 15 universities. He became Chief Executive of NERC in April 2005.

Alan has been Vice-President of the Royal Meteorological Society and was awarded their L F Richardson Prize (1979) and Buchan Prize (1992) for his research. He was a founding co-chair of the World Meteorological Organisation’s research programme ‘THORPEX: A World Weather Research Programme’. He is an assessor on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Science Advisory Council and a member of a number of national and international science committees.

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