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National Centre for Atmospheric Science leads new UK partnership for climate mitigation

UK scientists are embarking on an ambitious research programme to investigate strategies that limit future climate change.

The Future impacts risks and mitigation actions programme, also known as TerraFIRMA, has received £9.5 million investment by the Natural Environment Research Council.

The world has warmed by around 1°C since the industrial revolution and is getting warmer at an increasing pace, with serious consequences for our planet’s climate, future food security, water resources, health and biodiversity.

Major changes to the climate are already occurring across the world: with the last ten years being the warmest decade ever recorded, diminishing snow and ice, rising sea levels, and changes in the location and severity of flooding, drought, heatwaves and extreme winds. TerraFIRMA will provide new insights into the effectiveness of mitigation actions, to limit further changes to the climate and their impacts on people and the natural environment across the world.

Professor Colin Jones, Climate Scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, based at the Met Office

Decision-makers in government and the private sector are increasingly required to focus their attention on climate change mitigation options, and TerraFIRMA aims to provide advice on the most optimal actions.

Mitigation actions either reduce the rate of climate change by limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions, or by enhancing activities that remove these gases from the atmosphere.

The TerraFIRMA programme will examine a range of climate mitigation strategies, from afforestation and rewilding, to cutting methane emissions and other pathways to net zero (not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere).

TerraFIRMA’s work will recognise that greenhouse gases can come from a range of sources and climate mitigation can be applied across sectors such as energy, transport, buildings, industry, waste management, agriculture, forestry, and other forms of land management.

The TerraFIRMA team are dedicating attention to the implications of allowable carbon budgets and sustainable development goals, wider impacts on the environment, economy and society, and co-benefits such as improving air quality.

The programme will also investigate the risks and consequences associated with overshooting key global warming targets, including the risk of rapid change in a range of regional climate phenomena and the potential reversibility of any triggered changes.

TerraFIRMA is led by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, in collaboration several Natural Environment Research Council-supported research centres, including: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, National Centre for Earth Observation, National Oceanography Centre, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The Met Office Hadley Centre is also a key partner in the TerraFIRMA collaboration.

TerraFIRMA is one of six projects funded from a £47 million investment by the Natural Environment Research Council, as part of their National Capability Multi-Centre Science programme. The funding is designed to bring science centres together for more ambitious, integrated, and large-scale research into critical environmental challenges.

NERC-supported centres and the Met Office Hadley Centre have a long history of productive collaboration in climate change research. This new partnership will build on past knowledge and ways of working, and develop reliable guidance on the risks and impacts of future climate change and ways to limit them.

By bringing together the wide-ranging expertise and specialist facilities from across NERC’s centres, along with our key partners, this investment will power scientific discoveries that will help us adapt to, tackle or predict the impact of changes to our climate.

Dr Iain Williams, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)