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Exeter research ranked among the most influential of 2018

Exeter research ranked among the most influential of 2018

Research conducted by Exeter experts has been recognised amongst the top 100 influential in 2018.

Two research papers featuring Professor Tim Lenton and Professor Kevin Gaston have been included in the most recent Altmetric Top 100 prestigious list.

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, co-authored by Professor Tim Lenton from Geography at the University of Exeter, came 4th in this year’s list, making it the top climate and environment research paper.

“Our paper identified the existential risk that if we don’t act decisively to limit global warming then we could pass a global tipping point where climate change falls out of our control and the Earth system propels itself into a hotter state with sea-levels tens of metres higher” said Professor Lenton.

“At the same time we showed that there is a better path to a brighter future – a trajectory to a ‘stabilized Earth’ with manageable levels of climate change – but it is a path we have to create together, starting now.

“As Director of Exeter’s new Global Systems Institute that’s where we’re focusing our energy; on creating ‘positive tipping points’ – transformative solutions that take us on the path to a brighter, more sustainable future, which is in our control.”

Artificially lit surface of Earth at night increasing in radiance and extentco-authored by Biodiversity and Conservation Professor at the University of Exeter, Kevin Gaston, also featured in the top 100 at number 54.

The paper explores how the world’s night skies are getting brighter and how the worsening light pollution has harmful effects on animals and birds.

“Our paper showed that, globally, between 2012 and 2016 both the extent and the intensity of artificial night-time lighting (from streetlights and other sources) increased at c.2% per annum. In other words, in a short period the night-time skies have further brightened across yet more of the planet” said Professor Gaston.

“This change illustrates how the potential benefits of new technologies depend fundamentally on how people use them. Here, the shifts to solid state lighting technology (particularly LEDs) have not led to the predicted reductions in artificial lighting because rather than the efficiency savings having been taken there has been a rebound effect of increased use in response to the lowered costs of lighting.

“These findings are troubling because of the numerous ways in which, as we and others have shown, artificial night-time lighting can impact on wild plants and animals. However, they also illustrate how rapidly changes in night-time lighting can occur, suggesting that with appropriate policies in place the problems associated with such lighting could quickly be reduced.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, Professor Neil Gow FRS, said: “The University is immensely proud of the outstanding work done by our research community in the field of world climate change and these two highly cited papers by Professors Tim Lenton and Kevin Gaston again are important in stimulating the debate around one of the world’s most important environmental challenges.”

The annual Altmetric Top 100 highlights research published in 2018 that has generated significant international online attention and discussion – from post-publication peer review sites and public policy documents to mainstream media, blogs, Wikipedia, and social media platforms.

It typically features research from a variety of disciplines, written by authors from all corners of the globe.

This year’s Top 100 features papers published in 45 different journals and includes articles that touch on many topics, with a particular focus on themes such as the dire environmental consequences of climate change, links between mental health and physical fitness, and the spread of misinformation online.

“The Altmetric Top 100 continues to highlight an array of fascinating and diverse research that often relates to the broader cultural zeitgeist and the year’s most notable events,” said Catherine Williams, COO, Altmetric.

“From climate change to misinformation and diets, the most widely shared and discussed research focuses on global challenges that affect us all. Encouragingly, the levels of attention we see here demonstrates that expert knowledge still plays a very central role in our shared understanding of these issues.”

Date: 11 December 2018

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