UK in multimillion scheme to define climate threat

The National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) is to join forces with other leading UK environmental science organisations, in a new project to define the impact of climate change on UK.

The Climate change in the Arctic – North Atlantic region and impacts on the UK programme, also known as CANARI, has been backed by a £12 million investment from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to advance climate and weather science.

Scientists will research specifically the Arctic and North Atlantic because changes in these regions directly affect the UK’s climate and weather, with major economic impacts on agriculture, fisheries, water, energy, transport and health.

Professor Len Shaffrey, climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, based at the University of Reading explained: “CANARI will improve our capability to detect, explain and predict climate variability and changes in the Arctic and North Atlantic, with a focus on extreme weather risk and impacts. This will enable the UK to play an internationally leading role in addressing the challenges of understanding regional climate change and provide detailed information about the consequences for UK people, places, and economy.”

CANARI will take an “all-in-one view” of the Arctic – North Atlantic climate system, to understand the impacts on the UK arising from changes taking place in these regions.

“The Arctic – North Atlantic climate system is made up of the ocean, the atmosphere above it, and interactions with sea ice and ice sheets,” NACS explained. “Major changes to the climate are already occurring across the Arctic and the North Atlantic: with rising ocean and atmospheric temperatures, reduced sea ice thickness and extent, and shifts in key atmospheric circulations and constituents such as ozone, methane and aerosols.

“Many of the changes that scientists are observing in these regions are unprecedented in historical records. Climate variability and change in the Arctic–North Atlantic region will result in changes in the location and severity of disruptive and extreme weather, such as flooding, drought, heatwaves and extreme winds.”

CANARI 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.

Dr Iain Williams, director of strategic partnerships at the Natural Environment Research Council added: “This investment in NERC’s research centres will advance our understanding of the drivers of climatic and biodiversity changes, their impact on the UK environment and how we can mitigate and adapt to such changes. By bringing together the wide-ranging expertise and specialist facilities from across NERC’s centres, along with our key partners, these projects will power scientific discoveries that will help us adapt to, tackle or predict the impact of changes to our climate.”

The NACS warned: “With climate change we can expect to experience an increase in weather events like the extreme flooding across central Europe in summer 2021, and recent heatwaves such as the record breaking UK temperatures in 2019.

“Understanding how climate will change over the next few decades, especially extreme weather such as storms, droughts and floods, is critical to inform adaptation to climate change. CANARI will provide new knowledge on the risks to the UK from climate change, in particular, disruptive changes that might arise from the rapid warming and loss of sea ice in the Arctic.”