Melting Antarctic glacier   Picture: Shutterstock

This week, as part of Green GB Week, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and other Natural Environment Research Council institutes are celebrating the UK’s contribution to global climate science in the ten years since the Climate Change Act was passed.   

Green GB Week is a national initiative launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The week’s events include the European launch of the International Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, to which research by CEH and other Natural Environment Research Council institutes contributed. The report highlights the need for urgent action to climate change and warns of the severe environmental impacts if the increase in global temperatures exceeds the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement.

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will be present at the launch event, highlighting our role in long-term environmental monitoring, research into sustainable use of natural resources and our contribution to climate science.

Over the past decade, research by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has informed national policies:

  • CEH has provided scientific evidence that higher river flows are linked to climate change and our projections for flows up to the 2080s are used in Environment Agency guidelines for planning developments and flood defences.
  • CEH scientists are involved in UNECE Air Convention taskforces which have highlighted the intricate relationships between air quality and climate change, leading to policy objectives that have been implemented by national governments.
  • Our calculations of potential greenhouse emissions from different types of land use in the UK have been used to set carbon budgets
  • Our research has informed Defra’s peatland restoration strategy.
  • CEH is part of an initiative led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Met Office that will develop a world-leading Earth System Model (UKESM) looking at how the Earth’s climate will respond to future emissions and land use change.

Based on extensive research and monitoring, CEH has also recommended action to cope with the impacts of climate change, including how landscapes can be managed to support wildlife that provide ecosystem services to humans and how to mitigate the threat of ozone pollution to global food security.

Meanwhile, our projections for future flooding events and water availability in regions of Africa and Asia are helping governments, businesses and communities to plan for the future.

A number of studies involving CEH scientists were cited in the IPCC report. These included a paper, published in July, which estimated that, when the extra natural greenhouse gases caused by global warming are accounted for, fossil fuel emissions would have to be cut by 12 per cent more than previously thought, in order to meet the 1.5°C target.

Following today’s focus on climate change, the daily themes for Green GB Week for Tuesday to Friday are, respectively: clean growth technologies; financing the low carbon economy; clean growth as a business opportunity; and climate action in communities.

CEH scientists have contributed to an increasingly comprehensive evidence base to support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry, while our studies into non-conventional water sources and crop resilience will support sustainable agricultural methods and help farmers across the world cope with drought.


Influential CEH-led papers relating to climate change include:
E. Comyn-Platt et al. Carbon budgets for 1.5 and 2C targets lowered by natural wetland and permafrost feedbacks. Nature Geoscience. 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0174-9

C. Huntingford et al. Simulated resilience of tropical rainforests to CO2-induced climate change. Nature Geoscience. 2013. DOI:10.1038/ngeo1741

D. Roy et al. Similarities in butterfly emergence dates among populations suggest local adaptation to climate. Global Change Biology. 2015. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12920.

N. Reynard et al. The evolution of climate change guidance for fluvial flood risk management in England. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment. 2017. DOI: 10.1177/0309133317702566

C. Taylor et al. Frequency of extreme Sahelian storms tripled since 1982 in satellite observations. Nature. 2017. DOI: 10.1038/nature22069







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