Inaugural Lecture of Professor Paolo Perona, Chair of Environmental Engineering (MP3 audio)
From Billy Rosendale
Environmental processes, such as for instance the distribution of water resources across the planet, the response of living organisms to environmental stimuli, and carbon sequestration and storage in the lithosphere, are key to the functioning of the Earth system and its components (Ecosphere). Such processes are characterized by deterministic (i.e. certain) and random (i.e. uncertain) rules, which help govern habitat characteristics and species biodiversity.
Compared to the pre-human era, the Ecosphere is now exposed to human actions that affect both biotic and abiotic processes at a global scale. As a result, many environmental processes are transgressing planetary boundaries previously considered safe for the Earth system to function properly.
In this lecture, we will examine pattern formation, plant growth and uprooting, and the effect of memory in water-driven systems as examples of the above processes, under both human-driven and climate change scenarios. By this means, we will understand how deterministic and random fluctuations appear in environmental processes and how their combination can lead to resistance to perturbations (known as resilience). From the words of Pliny the Elder “The only certain thing is that nothing is certain”, we will learn that sustainable measures placed in defense of planetary boundaries must guarantee part of the original deterministic and noisy components of the process. The lecture will conclude with an overview of new perspectives for interdisciplinary environmental engineering.Further Information
The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Paolo Perona, Chair of Environmental Engineering was held at 5.30pm on Thursday, 12th April 2018, in Lecture Theatre 2, Hudson Beare Building, The King’s Buildings.