Celsius-Linnaeus Lectures 2019: Climate change, carbon dioxide storage, and human health

30 januari 2019

On Thursday 7 February, it will again be time for the Celsius-Linnaeus lectures and following symposium. Two of the world’s top researchers will be coming to the Ångström Laboratory at Uppsala University to tell us about the link between their research and topical questions about our lives and our times. This year's lecturers are geologist Martin Blunt and microbiologist and toxicologist Linda S. Birnbaum.

The University’s hosts for the lecturers provide a taste of what Martin Blunt and Linda S. Birnbaum will talk about on 7 February below.

“Carbon dioxide storage can be used in the case of large-scale emissions”

Celsius lecturer 2019 is Shell Professor in Petroleum Engineering at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, UK, Martin Blunt. His host is Auli Niemi, professor at the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University.

Martin Blunt’s lecture has the title of "A tale of X-ray vision, rocks, oil and carbon dioxide storage" – what is it about?

Martin Blunt

Auli Niemi: “Martin Blunt will be talking about how you can use X-ray micro tomography to map rock structures and fluid flows in them. He and his team use a combination of rigorous, micro-scale laboratory experiments of very fine resolution.”

“Using rigorous analysis and modelling of these laboratory experiments, his research team is able to quantify the processes that control gas and liquid flows and related processes in bedrock and describe them in anything from centimetre to kilometre scale. This has transformed our understanding of how multiple liquid phases flow simultaneously through the microscopic pore structure inside porous rock or soil.”

How is this linked to climate change and human health?

Auli Niemi

“Understanding these kinds of flows is essential for being able to describe, build models and make predictions about how liquids or gases flow through rock. This research is important for many applications such as oil and gas exploration, the extraction of groundwater as well as contaminant transport in and clean-up of polluted aquifers as well as carbon dioxide storage.  Some of humanity’s most important challenges are access to clean water and energy, and how we should manage the carbon dioxide which is causing climate change. These kinds of things affect our health, and one measure that could be taken here is the safe storage of carbon dioxide in deep rock formations, in the case of large-scale emissions.”

What are some of the reasons to come and listen to Martin Blunt?

“Martin Blunt is an outstanding lecturer and teacher and has built bridges between a number of disciplines including oil and gas recovery, earth sciences, and environmental sciences. His and his team’s experimental and modelling capabilities are unique and he is world-wide one of the leading experts in the field of multiphase flows in complex porous media.”

“The symposium that follows will be based on two perspectives: how humans are impacting the climate and the environment, and how the environment and the climate change are impacting human health. There will also be a panel discussion with the two Celsius-Linnaeus lecturers along with four other researchers from Swedish universities during which the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.”

Do you have a question you would like to put to Martin Blunt?

“I would like to ask him what he thinks is the most difficult challenge to address when it comes to multiphase flows in porous media.”


More about Martin Blunt’s research


“Our environment, health and toxicological impacts affect all of us”

Linnaeus lecturer 2019 is microbiologist and toxicologist Linda S. Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program in North Carolina, USA. Her host is Jonas Bergquist, Professor of Analytical Chemistry and Neurochemistry at the Department of Chemistry – BMC at Uppsala University.

Linda Birnbaum’s lecture is entitled "1.5˚ Celsius: our climate, our environmental health, our future" – what is it about?

Linda S. Birnbaum

Jonas Bergquist: “Linda Birnbaum will be talking about how climate change in combination with environmental toxins is having an impact on global health. In research being conducted at Uppsala University, we have gained quite a good understanding of which chemical substances are toxic by themselves. But we know considerably less about the effects of chemical substances in combination with environmental factors such as climate change. So her lecture will be very exciting.”

Have you seen anything similar in your own research?

“What I study is actually more to do with molecular diagnostics in neurodegenerative and endocrine diseases, at least in the research that my colleagues and I do here in Sweden. Although I have not specifically looked at environmental toxins in my research, we know that there are certain neurotoxins that do play a role and which have an impact on the incidence of certain forms of neurodegeneration, as well as other substances that are endocrine disruptors in endocrine diseases. Some cases of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease can be related to toxins. For the majority of patients with neurodegenerative disorders, we cannot say with any certainty why they developed Alzheimer’s disease for example. Most probably it will turn out to be a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to something that they are sensitive to.”

What would you like to ask Linda Birnbaum?

Jonas Bergquist

“If she doesn’t take it up spontaneously in her lecture, I wonder how we should be thinking about diseases that we are now seeing are increasing in frequency. I mean certain types of cancers or diseases where endocrine disruption is an underlying cause such as metabolic diseases and infertility. These are of course very complex diseases with many causes that interact. But can we already say that there are clear indications that this is something that humans have affected through our release of various toxins into the environment or our emissions of carbon dioxide? Or is it too early to say?”

What do you hope the audience will take away with them from her lecture?

“Linda Birnbaum is a brilliant lecturer and the topic she will be talking on is interesting to listen to. She possesses an enormous knowledge in her area of research and has followed developments closely – when it comes to exposure to toxins in our immediate environment and in recent years also combined with the issue of climate change. When it comes to major changes in our environment, health and toxicological impacts affect and will affect all of us – either directly or indirectly. That means we ought to keep abreast of what is happening in this area of research and the Celsius-Linnaeus lectures this year are a golden opportunity to do so.”


More about Linda S. Birnbaum’s research


Celsius-Linnaeus lectures 7 February, 2019

Time: 09:15 – 12:00

Place: Siegbahnsalen, Ångström Laboratory

Free entry. No registration required.


Celsius-Linnaeus symposium 7 February, 2019

Time: 13.30 – 17.00

Place: Polhemsalen, Ångström Laboratory

Free entry. No registration required.

The day will conclude with a panel discussion with the Celsius-Linnaeus and symposium lecturers.


Read more about the Celsius-Linnaeus lectures and symposium at Uppsala University