University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings


Image: Henrik Egede-Lassen |


Reyk Börner, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

18:00, Tuesday 30 April  2024 Reading Biscuit Factory Free event but booking essential

Book at Reading Biscuit Factory

For many of us the climate crisis mainly calls to mind rising global temperatures, but the crisis goes far beyond this – we are at risk of pushing our planet across climate ‘tipping points,’ critical thresholds where small changes can lead to abrupt and irreversible shifts in the Earth’s climate system. One major element in climate tipping is a huge system of ocean currents, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which is responsible for Europe's relatively mild climate. Past climate patterns show that these currents can switch abruptly between today’s vigorous flow and a much weaker flow state. A future shutdown would have potentially devastating consequences in Europe and around the world.

Media stories often paint a catastrophic picture of possible climate futures, with runaway ice sheet collapse, abrupt sea level rise and rainforest dieback, possibly triggered as early as this decade. But how close to these tipping points are we really?

Scientists work continuously to improve methods for predicting tipping points, meaning that our available knowledge shifts and develops. The complexity of the climate system also means significant uncertainties remain about tipping thresholds. Given this complexity and changing states of knowledge, how realistic is our yearning for fixed and definite answers and how should we best manage risk with limited knowledge?

Join doctoral researcher in mathematics of climate, Reyk Börner, for an inside view of what we know, don’t know, and perhaps can’t know about the future of our ocean currents and climate.


Short film – Coastal Requiem

The lecture will be preceded by a short film screening. Coastal Requiem investigates the plight of displacement due to climate change amongst five coastal communities around the globe. Weaving Diane Tuft's photography and haikus with deeply personal interviews, the short film portrays the global climate refugee crisis due to rising sea levels. 

Reception and PhD displays

Following the lecture there will be a short drinks reception with displays of work from other doctoral researchers in climate change and history.

About the Fairbrother Lecture

The Fairbrother Lecture is a University public lecture named after Jack Fairbrother who in 1929 became one of the first students to be awarded a PhD from the University. The lecture is an annual event at which a Reading doctoral researcher presents their research to a wider audience. 

Further information: Dr Joanna John