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29-11-2012 | Photo: Coring at sea in the Antarctica, courtesy R. Rickaby

The world in an oyster: deciphering past climate change

The relationship between air temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (pCO2) is a ‘hot’ topic for scientists – as it can help them understand both past and future climate change. Much of the evidence for past climate change is found in the geological record, where varying temperatures and pCO2 may be derived from a variety of isotopic and chemical signals recorded in fossils of past organisms. But how good are these records? Do they faithfully reflect past climates? Can scientists rely on empirical measurements without understanding the biological mechanisms that underpin them? This research will be highlighted during a session of the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on Tuesday 4th December.

29-11-2012 | © picture

When Geosciences tell us more about planet Earth

The European Research Council (ERC) that funds junior and senior world-class researchers based in Europe, is keen on promoting fundamental research in all areas, including Earth Sciences. Around 150 projects are currently being funded by the ERC in this field, with a total budget of € 270 million. Whereas some projects clearly fall into the ERC “Universe Sciences” or “Earth system Sciences” panels, others have an interdisciplinary nature, for instance projects looking at the impact of natural hazards on populations and environment.

14-11-2012 | © picture

In the footsteps of Darwin: pigs DNA sheds light on evolution and selection

“These two research studies demonstrate the benefits of basic genomic research on agricultural animals and their closest living relatives. The new analysis has important implications for agriculture, and also contributes to our understanding of evolution and to the advancement of human medicine”, explains ERC grantee Prof. Groenen from the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands.

12-11-2012 | © picture

Today societies revisited by anthropologists and archaeologists

The European Research Council (ERC) funds frontier research across all fields, including Social Sciences and Humanities (SH). To date, nearly 500 projects are financed by the ERC in the SH domain, with a total budget of around €700 million. The ERC budget is divided in three domains, namely Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities. Around 17 % of the ERC budget goes to projects in the domain of Social Sciences and Humanities.

22-10-2012 | ©Songquan Deng /

How research helps to prevent armed conflicts

During United Nations Disarmament Week (22-28 October 2012), the danger of the arms race and the need for its cessation will be discussed. The project led by Professor Christoph Meyer, an ERC grantee based at King's College in London (UK) is particularly relevant. He recently presented the final results on his ERC-funded project on forecasts for the prevention of armed conflicts.

09-10-2012 | © picture

Neuroscience 2012: An insight into ERC projects

Almost 200 research projects are supported for a granted budget over €250 million. About 15% of ERC-funded projects in life sciences have a neuroscience component. These projects aim at: advancing our knowledge of the nervous system in health and disease conditions; contributing to the development of new cellular, molecular, genetic and animal models and tools to investigate the activity of the nervous system in normal and pathological situations; and testing new concepts, ideas and techniques before transferring them to patients.

28-09-2012 | © picture

Finely-tuned therapies for fighting disease

The ability to fine-tune the functioning of blood vessels and the circulatory system is essential for combating the remodelling of the arteries that leads to heart attacks and strokes. It is also needed for the controlled repair of blood vessels after injury – which may otherwise result in a number of serious conditions. ERC grantee Professor Stefanie Dimmeler and her team at Frankfurt University are studying the role ribonucleic acid (RNA) plays in fine-tuning vascular functions – with the aim of developing new therapies for cardiovascular diseases, which are the most prevalent in Europe, due to growing obesity and longer lifespans.

28-09-2012 | © Mathcard project

Taking mathematics to heart

Mathematics might seem like an abstract discipline, remote from real-world applications but their equations can significantly help understand and simulate the functioning of nature. Professor Alfio Quarteroni of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) is leading the Mathcard project in developing mathematical models of the blood flow in our cardiovascular system. On the occasion of World Heart Day, he explains how his project could help surgeons and save lives.

24-09-2012 | © picture

Understanding turbulence: the key to weather prediction

After another anomalous summer, and with climate change still at the top of the political agenda, it seems that weather and climate forecasting have never been so topical. With the help of the ERC, Professor Sergej S. Zilitinkevich of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) is hoping to revise the way physics treats turbulence in the atmosphere and ocean – with important consequences for weather and climate modelling and prediction.

13-09-2012 | ©Grantee's picture: INRIA

Optimised crowd and traffic management: QED!

On the occasion of the European Mobility Week (16-22 September 2012), cities are encouraged to take initiatives to promote a sustainable urban mobility. Noise and air pollution have become sources of concern in many urban areas. Major European cities have to take crowd and traffic management ever more seriously - as populations grow and infrastructure has to cope with rising demand and increased traffic congestion.