Daneen Cowling

Daneen Cowling

Geography MSc Researcher at the University of Exeter
Content Creator for Invisible Worlds
Mentor on Climate Change: The Science, and Climate Change: The Solutions

Twitter: @DaneenCowling

Location Exeter



  • Hi! I'm one of your course creators.

    To find out more about the research around planetary boundaries, please check out the following link:


    Some useful articles to read can also be found here:...

  • Hi @AngelaW, I agree it can get quite depressing and overwhelming when we think of all the awful things we have done and do to our planet. But it's important to use these emotions and energy into the positive things we can do now we have such a clearer understanding of our impacts. Every cloud has a silver lining - we've done some devastating damage to Earth...

  • Hi @BarbaraStevenson, great insights! I agree, sustainability has a long way to go to actually be 'sustainable', this especially true for the technologies you've mentioned like solar power and wind which still rely on non-renewable materials to be built. But at some point there is a pay off, and if we look at is relative to oil/coal/gas it is more sustainable,...

  • Hi @JaneLlewellynDixon, intense weathering refers periods in earths history where either the climate or the geology has permitted high weathering and thus supply of rock minerals to the oceans. For example, this could be during times of high rates of mountain uplift where exposed fresh and elevated rock are weathered and eroded by rain, exporting to the ocean....

  • Hi Hazel,

    I agree, such invisible scales are hard to imagine but hopefully we can offer some new insights with this course!

  • Hi E W, that does seem to be the case! One element of the system is becoming out of balance with it's regulatory elements, which as we've seen in the past only leads to climate instability to re-configure the system.

  • You're exactly right Ian! Artecology are pushing to get Artecology into developments and have been able to make minor retrofits, but planners etc can be hard/slow to come round to these ideas.

  • Hi Aviva sounds awesome! Do you have any more detail on this?

  • Great plan Nicholas, I would love to see these structures along the Exe! If you come across anyone interested do put them in touch with the Artecology team!

  • @LucieT Hi Lucie! Do keep an eye on the website, a new map is in progress that will highlight Artecology locations around the country and the IOW!

  • Thanks for sharing this and giving us extra info to find out more!

  • @JennySnook yes definitely do! Feel free to post them on social media and tag us (Exeter Climate)

  • @ElisabethGemmell wow this is so interesting thanks for sharing Elisabeth, will definitely look further into this.

  • @IanCorker Hi Ian, yes I have this tends to be where a lot of the research is based, it's just unknown whether it will be visible in high energy small scale coastal environments. But I'm sure there will definitely be different river chemistries depending on the different rock types that travel over.

  • Definitely worth checking out whats living inside too! (and around the outside)

  • Super important recent initiative, the richness of data for this cause is increasingly desired - thanks for sharing Alberto!

  • This was really interesting to learn, thanks Md!

  • good question! UK politics is bonkers

  • Hi Ian, thanks for asking such brilliant questions. More alkaline water could potentially buffer (again, not well known) because spatially rain isn't a constant thing so it's difficult to get measurements of this.

  • Hi Ian! I'm looking into this currently for my dissertation, and the reservoir's of carbonate rocks around the world are really really disputed, arguably unknown. This is because you also get terrestrial inputs of alkaline minerals, corals and carbonate coastlines - some of these get neglected. Furthermore, their input of the buffering minerals has not been...

  • That's great to hear thanks for sharing Heather!

  • Hi Neil! Great idea which has definitely been practiced elsewhere, the only problem with this is the spatial scale - you will only cover small areas of beach/shoreline with this method. This might be good fun to test at a beach clean event though so maybe suggest it to event host's (surfers against sewage for example)

  • @DaveHall Yes International Atomic Energy Agency - they didn't make it very clear!

  • Art is central to the ideology of Artecology - (it's in the name!) I recommend getting in touch with Ian (his email is on the bottom of this webpage), or feel free to message me and I can put you in touch with them, my twitter is @daneencowling :-)

  • @RayBoundy @karenarmstrong-asquith I know, using weed killer is bonkers, moss is such an important ecosystem! Artecology have brought this ideology to a city centre and made a "bio-graffiti wall" which was lined with moss, had imprinted channels to water, and external plantings as well as various textures and punctuated holes for habitats. It is important we...

  • I agree, the actions of some councils is just crazy! Yes concrete isn't the best in terms of CO2, but Artecology tries to minimise this with specific bio-receptive concrete along with using recycling materials such as rope, newspapers and other materials to make designs. They have also trialled pools using recycled tyres which have also shown brilliant...

  • Hi Doug, you're right we still aren't solving the "climate change problem", but this is definitely a step in the right direction. We have and still are waiting year on year for governments to get their act together and introduce legislation that will help achieve climate targets and help mitigate impacts. However, some species cannot wait this long for change,...

  • Hi John, yes it is! One of the coolest installations of Artecology on a terrestrial waterway is the "eel-avator", which used a combination of textures along a small stream to help with the migration of eels upstream. In addition to helping the declining population of eels, it looks amazing too!

  • Hi Melissa,

    I don't know a great deal about this, but found this website that might give some useful methods to do this!


  • Hi Dave, thanks! Yes proxies exist, such as Carbon isotopes. These can be used to determine the chemical balances of seawater at the time, temperature, and ocean currents which can be used to relate to current conditions to infer what conditions were like. I've attached an article which might be an interesting read about how these isotopes are...

  • Not confidently, no. We do not have a lot of data pre 1970s on coral responses to these sorts of changes, so it makes it difficult to determine the long term trends without a great deal of data. Geological records can be useful but are sparse, have gaps and don't say a great deal about rate of response. We can simulate these predicted changes by using lab...

  • Great links thanks for sharing Antonio! Also good points about the wide range of impacts one change in the oceans can have, affecting physics, biology and chemistry of the oceans - a truly interdisciplinary problem!

  • Daneen Cowling made a comment

    Check out this webpage created by the Artecology team, explaining how their concepts and designs provide effective and sustainable climate change solutions!


  • Difficult to say John, there is so much! Especially as a lot of it is so small to physically see making removal difficult, along with long life times in the oceans as some take many years to degrade. There is hope though, new methods are constantly being trialled to remove plastics of all sizes! Check out this technique...

  • @MIcheleRoot Definitely! But this is usually the case for all scientific proposals. The ones that receive the least backlash tend to be the ones that cost the least!

  • @JessicaMcGarty Great blog thanks for sharing Jessice, I've definitely learnt a lot and enjoyed checking out the additional links. You might like to know that yesterday was also world seagrass day, definitely something to celebrate!

  • Great link, thanks for sharing Kerry!

  • Great link, thanks for sharing Aarne!

  • Hi Neil, thanks for joining and great you're already doing so much to reduce your footprint! I hope this course will offer additional solutions you can do and how you can share important knowledge to others.

  • Thanks for sharing Greg and welcome to the course! We will be covering these issues in the weeks to come, looking forward to seeing your insights.

  • @BayM The majority of thes sulphur dioxide will react with water to produce sulphuric acid (acid rain), and incorporated into the hydrological cycle.

  • @KateClark What a brilliant idea! It's a great tool to use and share for others to use!

  • @KateClark wow Kate that sounds brilliant, what a great initiative! Well it's great that you've come to us to get some climate change knowledge - you're definitely in the right place! If you are working mostly with creating solutions, I recommend you also do the follow on course to this; Climate Change: The...

  • @NovaBrockbank Hi Nova, yes that's right the sun cream can have awful effects on the corals. Here's a Nature news article about why Hawaii is banning harmful sun lotion https://www.nature.com/news/hawaii-seeks-to-ban-reef-unfriendly-sunscreen-1.21332

  • @NovaBrockbank @SimonvanderLingen Great points and valid concerns, I share them also. But, if you would like to learn more about the solutions and maybe regain some hope I recommend the course that starts as this one finishes; Climate Change: The Solutions


  • Hi Steve! We are filming a Q&A tomorrow of all the key questions asked throughout the course, so be sure to check when it's up.

  • @IrynaG.V. @AlexSylvester @PatrickRidley Thanks Alex and Patrick, both right! Mt Pinatubo first lead to an immediate cooling but over a longer timescale the increased greenhouse gases from the eruption onset a warming.

  • Great to hear Kate! Would love to know more about the communities you're working with?

  • Great points Patrick. Yes, primary data is used to validate and fine-tune models and their outputs, which is essential to improve accuracy, certainty and confidence of the results.

    I agree, some feedbacks are limited to operating over geologic timescales so will be unable to respond under current rates of change - but interesting to think that some may...

  • Great points Carol, all completely right! If you want to learn more about the solutions currently taking place around the world and future possibilities to also continue learning and communicating this important knowledge (which I can tell you already find important), check out our course starting as this one finishes; Climate Change: The Solutions...

  • Hi Iryna, it's difficult to predict the severity of impacts, as so many tipping points occur that if surpassed could onset big changes! We can assume the Earth will regulate itself and return back to an equilibrium state, but depending on the damage done will determine how long this will take and what sort of equilibrium state we will return to.

  • @AnitaR @ClareA Hi both, you're both right and similar to Jas I share your anger on this issue, but it is everyones duty to become more educated to make more justified daily decisions - which you're doing and that's great!

    Solutions do exist and they do give us more and more hope, if you wish to find out more (which I really recommend), sign up to our...

  • @JeanReeve Unfortunately they are never simplistic when it comes to natural processes!

  • @PaulHamilton Hi Paul, you're right this process occurs on very long timescales and only when conditions are right, i.e. where water can penetrate through open sources like lakes or through permeable beds that allow the transport of water to lower layers.

  • @ElisabethGemmell I can't get access to New Scientist however have found the Tibet glacier article (similar research) in a paper on research gate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311528590_Two_glaciers_collapse_in_western_Tibet

    Also found a similar article on the research by Peter in the Guardian:...

  • @RichardThomas Hi Richard, this is correct. These algal growths have shown to be widespread red blooms covering the ice. These can also come in the form of ash which can cover the glacier and decrease albedo and therefore increase the melt. An interesting variation of this is small concentrated holes called 'Cryoconite holes' which are small circle depressions...

  • @SteveMcRobb haha no worries, thank you! (and great blog! Awesome pictures of Canada glaciers).

  • Hi Steve, had trouble accessing your link - sent me to a Virgin media site?

  • Hi Stuart, yes high latitudes experience the greatest impact from Ocean Acidification because of lower saturation states.

  • Hi Jean, unfortunately the solutions are not that simple. One of the main reasons is that it's not only the acidity stressing the coral its also the temperature. Higher ocean temperatures stress the coral so much they eject their 'zooxanthella' which they need to survive and live as an organism, without this the coral becomes a bleached skeleton....

  • Hi Elisabeth, I think only those who have accounts with New Scientist will be able to view them. What are the article titles though, there may be some freely available versions out there somewhere?

  • WOW! This is brilliant thanks so much for sharing!!! Do you know if he's done anything similar since?

  • Interesting article, thanks Nya!

  • This is right Michael, this is especially important for some Antarctic glaciers and those in Iceland, which are situated above volcanos and thus experience some melt from the geothermal heat below.

  • Hi Nancy, yes - climate change is increasing the current rate of calving because of these processes explored, which is due to the increased retreat of the glacier. I've linked a useful website that explores the trends shown by Antarctic glaciers and how the processes are responding to climate change....

  • Thanks for the links Vivienne, and great research into the complexities around this process. It's not as simple as increasing temperatures = increasing melt.

  • Great detailed summary Alex and appreciation of the complexities of a single mechanism like calving. Are you keeping a blog with your learning? Would love a read if so, sounds like you've got a decent understanding here!

  • Great summary Tamara!

  • @PaulHamilton Hi Paul, yes there are aquifers in abundance in that area, because of the porous chalk able to retain water. Our current activity can seriously undermine these features by over extracting gas which can cause the ground to subside, and more importantly through pollution. This is especially big problem above land fill sites, where pollution can...

  • Thanks for those links Utkarsh!

  • Spot on Michelle!

  • @RichardThomas Yes we do! (I live on the Isle of Wight so fairly close). But yes, these are good evidence of past sea levels!

  • @VirginiaFassnidge @MartinGillham yes that's correct Virginia, good for takin CO2 out the atmosphere but not so great at reducing radiation adsorption from surface albedo.

    Also correct Martin, the forests are both a source and a sink. However the time scale forests operate as a store is far greater than the time it releases Carbon. The release is also...

  • @CharlesDixon fair enough Charles! If ever you change your mind and need advice feel free to ask :-)

  • @AminahB.ZahrahNandoo Great stuff Aminah, thanks again for sharing!

  • Amazing diagrams as always, and thanks or adding the useful links at the end it was a good way to learn more!

  • Amazing blog Aminah - wow! I love the diagrams they are awesome, how did you make them? Also great structure with the question answer, you've presented the information clearly and evident understanding throughout, great stuff!

  • Thanks for the link Kerry, and great summary of what you've learnt so far, hope you enjoy the next few weeks!

  • @GraceDugdale Great blog Grace, best one I've seen yet! Brilliant use of diagrams makes everything come together nicely and really show your understanding, brilliant!

  • Great article thanks Kerry, you will enjoy the Cryosphere section coming up soon!

  • Hi Richard, the answers to this are answered in detail in the next week!
    I can tell you how sea level is measured as I don't think that is addressed in as much detail.
    Past sea levels can be studied from geologic evidence, for example where fossils are found of animals that live in the sea and at only certain depths can tell you where there were once sea's...

  • Great links, thanks Utkarsh!

  • Hi Michael, great questions! I'm sure you will get some answers throughout the course as we address everything you've said. But one of the main thing we can tell whats natural and what is not is that climate change on earth takes place in regular cycles, either by a change in the earths tilt or axis, which happens every few thousand year. This perturbation...

  • @MargaretAitchison Hi Margaret, great! I've contacted the team and will get back to you with any updates.

  • Hi Murdoch, great observation. This is a big controversy in the current literature around Ocean Acidification research. Unfortunately, to replicate certain scenarios a lot of things need to be compromised. So, to be able to control the environmental conditions in lab experiments the temporal aspect of the study is severely compromised. Some studies do take...

  • @MargaretAitchison Hi Margret I'm terribly sorry I didn't even spot those small ones myself. I've spoken to the team and unfortunately we can't change the videos because of how much editing involved, we can however offer documents similar to the one I've linked that are descriptions of the videos along with the transcripts if this is better? This video...

  • Sorry Margaret! These triangles only appear to introduce Tim in this video, so usually skip the first few seconds of the video to avoid this.

  • @PaulHamilton I agree Paul, Daisyworld is very interesting!

  • @NyaMurray This might be a good place to start to find some data, also with a useful map to show where measurements have been taken: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/paleoclimatology-data/datasets/tree-ring

  • Yes, these closely correlate to Heinrich events :-)

  • Geology can also be used to help inform climate reconstructions. For example, dating fossil vegetation can tell us about they types of vegetation that was around in a certain ecosystem (and certain climate). Mostly for climate reconstructions, the isotopes of Oxygen and Carbon are used (as described here). If you would like to know more about the methods I...

  • How interesting Anthony! A lot of the time this can just be due to the minor differences in ice cores - these are single location readings and not completely representative of the whole ice sheet. However, it could also be due to the different responses of the ice sheets due to their location and dynamics, interesting to think about for sure.

  • Hi Nya, I recommend googling "climate change records dendrochronology and ice cores" or something along those lines. Then look on the images, there is a rich collection of these graphs and different ways to present the data - hopefully you find this useful :-)

  • Hi Stuart,
    The answer is more-or-less answered in the next section, but incase you still need the answer, here's my attempt:
    Ice cores and tree rings can correlate using temperature proxies. As said here, the thicker the tree ring the more growth that year, these highly productive years can be correlated to certain isotopes in ice cores, or certain...

  • @peggyS @JanetGreen Great stuff! Glad you're enjoying learner amongst and from your fellow learners. These courses are unique in that they are the few platforms that allow this sort of valuable learning, and its great to see the discussions taking place!

  • volcanos are more sensitive to releasing this carbon, so in terms of policy and safeguarding these stores they are regarded as more important as the relatively more stable stores in rocks.

  • Great blog Penny - love the title pun!

    Wow, lot's of great questions!
    Yes, drilling is a bad idea as it releases significant amounts of C that is stored in the ground to the atmosphere, allowing it to contribute to the warming feedbacks we have explored.

    I'm not too sure about your question about the comparative speeds of warming/cooling feedbacks so...

  • @MikeLandy Thanks for the suggestion Mike, it is sometimes useful to do things chronologically. But as the course goes on I think you will appreciate the importance to set the scene of the current situation, as the first week lays down important concepts that inform all weeks after.

    But glad you've learnt a lot! Geological time scales can be tricky to get...

  • Spot on Ginnie! The increase in warming we are forcing now is unprecedented. This means regulating feedbacks are not used to/are not able to maintain their roles at such rates.

  • You're right Dennis, oil, coal and natural gas are finite resources, meaning the timescales it takes them to renew is so impracticable it basically means when they're gone, they're gone! They've been exploited at an unsustainable rate which is bad for the environment and the value of the resource. However the increase in renewable energy (wind, wave, solar...