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We identify four fundamental scientific challenges which will drive our strategic research for the next five years and beyond. Awareness of these challenges is not new; indeed the science builds upon the work which we and numerous colleagues internationally have been engaged in for many years. However there is a growing urgency arising from the widespread acceptance that the environmental challenges we face are not theoretical or potential futures ones but are already impacting upon society.

We are also realistic about our role in these addressing these challenges: they are highly multi-disciplinary and our role is to bring our expertise in Atmospheric Science to bear within concerted and organised programmes in collaboration with the wider NERC community, with other scientists and stakeholders in the UK and with the best researchers internationally. It follows therefore that our challenges are to a large extent shared with other parts of the NERC community.

Challenge 1: Identify and model the processes that govern climate variability and change on regional and local space scales, and time-scales from months to decades; quantify and reduce the uncertainty in predictions on these scales

Challenge 2: Identify and model the processes that govern climate on multi-decadal to centennial time-scales; quantify and reduce the uncertainty in predictions for the next century

Challenge 3: Improve the prediction of human exposure to air pollution and the attribution of contributing sources

Challenge 4: Improve the capability for predicting high impact weather

Our science strategy aims to develop and improve understanding of the influence which the atmosphere has in the natural and human modified environment and thereby, enable more accurate predictions of future environmental threats to society to be made. Perceptive readers will note that our four challenges vary in their scope and in the role that we propose to play. This is deliberate. In some cases we take a lead in making predictions whilst in other cases, our role is to acquire and interpret data or to clarify the fundamental physical and biogeochemical processes which drive the earth system.