Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

Climate change scientist wins major prize

01/27/2005 10:09:50

A Lancaster University scientist, whose work is helping to predict how the Earth’s climate will change in the future, is among the winners of Britain’s most prestigious prizes in physics awarded by the Institute of Physics.

The Institute of Physics Awards 2005, presented at a special dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London on Thursday 20th January, honour Britain’s top physicists and groundbreaking research in a variety of fields.

Barbara Maher, Professor of Physical Geography, was presented with the Chree Medal & Prize for her pioneering work using the magnetism in rocks and soil to understand how changes in the Earth’s climate have been caused by humans and by natural events in the past. This work is now helping researchers predict exactly how the Earth’s climate might change in the future.

Barbara Maher, a professor in the Centre for Environmental Magnetism and Paleomagnetism, was the first person to link the magnetic properties of rock and soil with changes in climate and the environment. Understanding this relationship allowed Maher to reconstruct the Earth’s climate over geological time-scales; identifying changes induced by humans as well as natural variations in climate.

As fears grow over global warming, modelling and predicting climate change has become more important than ever. Maher’s work has provided researchers with accurate knowledge of what the Earth’s climate was like in the past – long sets of time-series data against which they can test their models, and attempt to improve them.

Dr. Paul Danielsen, Director of Communications at the Institute of Physics, said: “The Institute’s awards recognise outstanding achievements by physicists in their respective fields. Previous winners constitute a roll-call of those who have shaped physics in the 20th century. This year’s winners demonstrate that UK physicists continue to make remarkable contributions into the 21st century.”