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Our world and the universe

Earth and stars in sapce

From the world we live in to the universe we seek to understand, our interdisciplinary research is expanding the boundaries of human knowledge.  

We're exploring the long-term evolution of the Earth and its planetary systems, making new discoveries, influencing policy and addressing some of the most significant challenges facing our society.  

With multi-million pound funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) our researchers are focusing on the Earth's surface, including in and under its oceans, where life has evolved and profoundly affected environments over billions of years.  The discoveries they make from the depths of the seafloor help us better understand changes in the sun's energy and the impact this has on climate change.

Our £15m coastal research vessel RV Guiding Light carries on-board the latest sonar sea floor imaging suite that allows the investigation of temperature, salinity and other vital elements which help gain further understanding of the seas.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences research vessel, R.V. Guiding Light
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences research vessel the R.V. Guiding Light.

We're also engaging communities and informing practitioners in managing coastal environments to ensure these areas are preserved for future generations.          

As well as addressing some of the most significant challenges facing the world we live in, our research teams are also deciphering the mysteries of the universe.

Our astronomers are working with the European Space Agency to enhance our understanding of the evolution of the universe and we're working with NASA to design and construct astronomical instruments such as the £1 billion Herschel Space Observatory. Supported by a series of grants totalling £3.2m our researchers built SPIRE, one of three scientific instruments used by Herschel to discover more about the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies and planets.

We also lead international teams drawing upon the predictions of Einstein to study sources of gravitational waves and the development of algorithms for their detection.