Oct 22, 2014

University's environmental research centre gets £23 million boost to study the effects of climate change, global warming and deforestation

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The University of Leicester has been given a £23 million grant to help tackle some of the biggest environmental issues facing the UK.

The National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), run by university, has received the funding from the National Environment Research Council (NERC), which will see it financed for five years.

The centre works with about 100 scientists, based around the country, who analyse data related to everything from climate, deforestation and transport to greenhouse gases, changes to Arctic temperatures and pollution.

And it provides evidence for the Government to use while making important decisions about environmental policy and development.

President and vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester Professor Paul Boyle said: “It is an outstanding achievement to have won the £23 million contract.

“This will cement Leicester’s world class reputation for research in this field, which will have a direct impact on our understanding of how the planet works and how we predict the temporal and spatial extent of environmental change.”

In future, the NCEO will provide scientists and public bodies with data to help them respond to environmental incidents, such as floods, droughts and extreme weather.

The Government has identified big data and satellites as two of the eight great technologies in which the UK is set to become a global leader. The university said that the £23 million investment underlines NERC’s long-term commitment to the UK’s capability in those areas.

It said it will also ensure the UK environmental science community is ideally positioned to take full advantage of innovative new satellite data expected to emerge over the coming years.

Science minister Greg Clark said: “Satellites and big data are two of our eight great technologies of the future that will propel UK growth for decades to come.

“This new investment enables the UK science community to exploit the growing opportunities from space, and also transform those into real commercial opportunities for British business.”

Professor John Remedios, head of earth observation science at the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “NCEO will be leading a step change in the ability of the NERC community to characterise and understand global and regional environmental change.”

“It will do this by providing a coherent world-class capability which can strategically underpin the national science base, matching big data techniques with space technology to deliver new environmental information for both science and society.”

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