Global Change

Welcome to the global change research community

The Earth's natural environment is characterised by continuous change; in its temperature and climate, ecosystems and landscapes, ice sheets and sea level. Imposed on these natural variations, human activity is dramatically changing the Earth environment by altering the chemistry of the soil, oceans and atmosphere, the landscape and biological systems.

However, there is great uncertainty in the magnitude, nature and collective impact of these changes. This uncertainty, perhaps even more so than the changes themselves, presents a profound challenge to society's capacity for adaptation and resilience.

The global change research community brings together diverse academics to examine these issues. We explore the history of our planet, monitor metre-scale changes in ice sheets and glaciers, and unlock mechanisms of biological adaptation, from genetics to whole ecosystems. Our work ranges from the super-greenhouse climates of >50 million years ago to future predictions of water supply in arid regions of the world, from the fate of corals on a geoengineered Earth to the structural changes in leaves in response to changing light, from exploring the ecosystems beneath Antarctica to incorporating biodiversity into law.

Bristol researchers are leaders in these areas. They have written thousands of papers, advised government and industry, generated patents and contributed to the IPCC and other major international agreements.Bristol is home to a large and diverse community of scholars focused on delivering world-class research in the area of global change. Research interests span subjects and departments across the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Arts, Social Sciences and Law.


The global change research community aims to:

  • improve our understanding of climate and environmental change processes
  • better predict future changes and their impact on human society, and
  • help develop technological and policy tools required for society to address environmental and economic concerns.

Our research

Global change research focuses on the following areas:

Contact us

Please contact global change leader Prof Dani Schmidt with any enquiries about the global change research theme.

Did you know?

The Cabot Institute held The Uncertain World Summit in October 2015 as part of Bristol European Green Capital celebrations.  The forum identified global change issues that businesses, leaders, and others can solve. Visit the Uncertain World webpage.