Microplastics may have drastic consequences for coral reefs

IMAGE: http://www.plasticfacts.com

I am now at the beginning of my PhD so I thought it would be good to share my MSc thesis work: The effects of microplastics on coral holobiont photosynthesis, respiration and bleaching susceptibility, which will hopefully be published soon!

Numerous organisations such as Plastic Oceans, 5 Gyres and Surfers Against Sewage are fighting to make a difference in the global plastic pollution crisis. Following the incredible Blue Planet II , and even more recently Drowning in Plastic, the public response has been brilliant, pushing for reductions in single-use plastic globally. However, more threats from plastic to the oceans continue to be uncovered, such as with my MSc thesis, supporting evidence that coral reefs may be suffering from plastic pollution too.

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Four days in Argentina: my experience of the Climate Change and Plant Dynamics in the Andes Workshop


From the 13th to 19th of August I flew out to Mendoza, Argentina to participate in a climate change workshop. The workshop, sponsored by Newton Fund and the British Council aimed to address plant dynamics and climate change in the Andes while helping develop and connect early career researchers across Latin America and the UK. The workshop had a great range of participants from a wide range of disciplines. As the participant with the least amount of experience I always felt included and respected. I have a remote sensing and GIS background with a strong interest in botanics and forests and it was great to learn some really contextual knowledge.

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The Island of Magoodhoo – what can it tell us about waste management issues on small island developing states?

I was lucky enough to go to the Maldives this January as part of my MSc Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh. The Maldives is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), a group of 26 atolls located in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka and 820km long. Most of the islands are inhabited by local people or are entirely resorts, with the economy relying heavily on tourism. We were allowed to stay on the Island of Magoodhoo, Fafuu atoll, a local island with a current population 838, within the Marine Research and Higher Education (MaRHE) centre. As part of our time in the Maldives we each had to conduct a research project of our own.

The members of my course on a research boat in the Maldives

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Tutorial: How to download and do land classification on Sentinel-2 data in QGIS

Recently I have done a couple of training sessions and found people wanted guidance on how to download Sentinel-2 data and what they could do with it. This uses an example of processing in tropical forest but could be adapted for other purposes. Here are the notes I produced as a result of this session – they are aimed at a complete beginner who isn’t looking to do masses with the data but would just like to get started with learning.  I thought I would share in case they are useful to anyone else.

It requires a plugin called the Semi-Automatic Classification Plugin that can be installed by going to Plugins > Manage and Install Plugins then searching for Semi-Automatic Classification Plugin. It will be highlighted in green as it is a trusted plugin. Press install and all the toolbars should appear.

Note there is definitely more glamorous ways of doing this, but this is a great start for people who are only looking to use QGIS. Feel free to ask any questions!

Impacts of landslides on trunk roads in Scotland

Once again I present you a very dated case study – I must have preempted this as I have since moved to Scotland so this suddenly seems interesting again.

Scotland is connected by a series of trunk roads. Trunk roads are roads of strategic importance and closure of one of these roads can have widespread impacts. Scotland’s trunk roads carry 35% of all Scottish traffic and are valued at £20.8 billion. In August 2004 there was a series of landslide events across Scotland. The landslides affected key parts of the road network and limited access to travel and services, highlighting the potential financial implications of landslides (Table 1).

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Using GIS and remote sensing for management of wildland-urban interface

Another small project I did ages ago. This is one I’d like to return to as there is so much more potential and remote sensing for forests is a particular interest of mine. However for now here is a quick look at a case study of the wildfire-urban interface.

The GiIl and Stephens article is an excellent article about the challenges posed by wildfires on the management of the wildland-urban interface (WUI). Building on this, this post will use GIS and remote sensing to look at asset protection zones in Wilson, Wyoming.

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Soil Erosion and Deforestation in Ecuador

Firstly I thought I’d share some short summaries of projects I’ve worked on in the past. They are quite basic in their techniques used – I was just starting out! – but I think they could be useful as a case study nonetheless.

Deforestation is a growing issue in developing countries as the demand for agricultural commodities rises. In Ecuador, the government’s subsidy based approach to agriculture and the discovery of oil has led to the country having the highest rate of deforestation in South America. Furthermore, the removal of vegetation has been identified as the leading cause of soil erosion. I chose to look at two sites in contrasting regions of the country to see how the soil has been impacted as a result of deforestation. An overview of the two sites characteristics can be seen in the table below:

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