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Life in a warming world

Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Go pond dipping at the exhibition
  • Spy on freshwater invertebrates through a microscope
  • Play a food web game

Find out more

The Berkshire school investigating the effect of climate change on freshwater ecosystems.

The UK is home to numerous freshwater habitats, such as streams, lakes and rivers, and they are important hotspots for biodiversity. Not enough is yet known about the impact of climate change on these habitats, but this exhibit shows how a school in the UK is at the forefront of freshwater ecosystem research.

Freshwater habitats are particularly vulnerable even to seemingly minor environmental changes. However, much of the past research has investigated the impacts of our warming world on single species – so we know little about its wider effects on biodiversity. This is a vital question, because if ecosystems can’t adapt it could lead to local or even global extinctions. In a Royal Society -funded partnership between Imperial College London and Charters School, young people are looking at the impact of warming on the freshwater food web. The research uses man-made ponds called experimental mesocosms to artificially tweak conditions and study the consequences, revealing vital insights into the adaptability of freshwater habitats. 

This exhibit is part of the Royal Society’s Partnership Grant scheme.

Find out more about experimental mesocosms and the work at Silwood Park.

Presented by Imperial College London.