Protecting London from the threat of flooding is of prime importance to
the nation. Work in the Unit on regional sea-level rise and on the effect
of storm surges was used in the Environment Agency's Thames Estuary 2100
(TE2100) plan to assess potential change in risk. The Unit's work
estimated a very unlikely maximum rise in sea level of 2.7m by 2100,
considerably lower than the previous worst-case scenario of 4.2m. It
confirmed that 90 centimetres was the figure that should be used for
developing the plan. TE2100 concluded that a second Thames Barrier
(estimated cost £10-20 billion at today's prices) would not be needed not
by 2030, but may be needed by 2070. Our results have been used to define
procedures for the monitoring of regional sea and Thames water levels over
the next few decades, and to review decision-making procedures to ensure
that the risk of flooding in London is kept within acceptable levels,
while avoiding unnecessary costs
Data generated by sensors on-board satellites orbiting the Earth have
become extremely important to businesses and public sector organisations.
They are the essential ingredient in satellite-enabled consumer services,
from GoogleEarth to disaster management, insurance and agriculture. The
Earth Observation Science group at Leicester has played a leading role in
the transfer of cutting-edge Earth Observation techniques and know-how to
the private and public sectors, enabling more businesses to use the
technology for commercial gain. Leicester experience in technology
translation led to its invited contribution to the UK space industry-led
report to government, an Innovation and Growth Strategy for Space.
Research carried out at the University of Leeds has led to the
development of a system for predicting severe air turbulence at airports
and elsewhere. The research modelled highly localised `rotor streaming'
turbulence which is too small-scale to predict using today's numerical
weather prediction models. The Met Office now uses the highly efficient
3DVOM computer prediction model, based on the Leeds research, to improve
its operational weather forecasting, especially for providing warnings of
`gustiness' to the public and airports and to highlight risks of
overturning of high-sided vehicles. In addition, the model is used by
forecasters to predict dangerous turbulence at Mount Pleasant Airport in
the Falkland Islands, and has led to the prevention of around five flight
diversions per year at an estimated cost saving of £1.25 million.
Exeter's Centre for Energy and the Environment has created novel
probabilistic weather files for 50 locations across the UK, consisting of
hourly weather conditions over a year, which have been used by the
construction industry to test resilience of building designs to climate
change. They have already had significant economic impact through
their use in more than £3bn worth of infrastructure projects, for example,
Great Ormond Street Hospital, Leeds Arena, and the Zero Carbon Passivhaus
School. The weather files are widely available to professionals and
endorsed by internationally leading building simulation software providers
such as Integrated Environmental Solutions.
Human activity leads to the emission of many greenhouse gases that differ
from carbon dioxide (CO2) in their ability to cause climate
change. International climate policy requires the use of an "exchange
rate" to place emissions of such gases on a "CO2-equivalent"
scale. These exchange rates are calculated using "climate emission
metrics" (hereafter "metrics") which enable the comparison of the climate
effect of the emission of a given gas with emissions of CO2.
Research in the Unit has contributed directly to (i) the calculation of
inputs required for such metrics, (ii) the compilation of listings of the
effects for a large number of gases and (iii) the consideration of
alternative metric formulations. During the assessment period this work
has been used in the implementation of the first commitment period of the
Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) to the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in decisions and discussions (which began in
2005) on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment
period (2013-2020), as well to intergovernmental debate on aspects of the
use of metrics in climate agreements.
A novel approach to climate science has resulted in over 260,000 members
of the public worldwide choosing to engage in a climate modelling project.
By contributing resources that require their time and attention, they have
become `citizen scientists'. The project has resulted in greater interest,
understanding and engagement with climate science by participants; wider
public discussion of climate science; and influence on policy and
practice. Over 3000 people, including professionals in developing
countries, have benefitted through education and training. The project has
also advanced the development and awareness of `volunteer computing'.
Urban greenspace cools cities and reduces rainfall runoff but these
effects have been difficult to
quantify. Ennos's research is the first to give realistic figures for the
contribution of greenspace and
assess its potential to climate-proof cities. Key research findings have
furthered the concept of
green infrastructure, influenced local and national planning policy [text
removed for publication].
Novel mapping tools developed by Ennos have had international impact,
including use in the city
master plan for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Community forests have altered
their planting practises as
a result of Ennos's research findings.
Research at the University of Exeter identifying potential climate
tipping points and developing
early warning methods for them has changed the framework for climate
Concepts introduced by Professor Tim Lenton and colleagues have
infiltrated into climate change
discussions among policy-makers, economists, business leaders, the media,
social welfare organisations. Thorough analyses of abrupt, high impact,
and uncertain probability
events, including estimates of their proximity, has informed government
debate and influenced
policy around the world. It has also prompted the insurance and
reinsurance industry to reconsider
their risk portfolios and take into account tipping point events.
Over one quarter of the estimated 886 million undernourished people in
the world live in sub-Saharan Africa and their lives and livelihoods
depend critically on rain-fed agriculture. However this region has lacked
the equipment and the infrastructure to monitor rainfall. Over the past 20
years, the Unit's TAMSAT (Tropical Applications of
Meteorology using SATellite Data and Ground-Based
Observations) research group has developed a reliable and robust means for
monitoring rainfall, appropriate for use in Africa. In addition, the Unit
pioneered the use of such data to predict crop yields over large areas.
TAMSAT data and methods are now used in food security (to anticipate
drought and predict crop and livestock yields); in health planning (to
predict outbreaks of rain-promoted diseases such as malaria); in aid (to
guide the allocation and distribution of relief food and water); and in
economic planning (to plan mitigation activities and investment in
infrastructure). The Unit's programme of development and validation has
extended the method to all of Africa, at all times of year. Our work with
national meteorological services in Africa has helped them to build their
own capabilities and to both contribute to TAMSAT and exploit it. The data
provided by TAMSAT has had major impact in increasing the resilience of
African populations to weather and climate, saving and improving the
quality of lives, and strengthening economies in developing nations.
Climate change is one of the most critical challenges facing modern
society and there is a paramount requirement for government policy
informed by science, and scientifically credible public information.
Observations of sea surface temperatures, and their corroboration, are a
focus for governments — climate change mitigation is economically
important in a warming world. This UoA has provided the science leadership
for a major satellite programme, the ATSRs, specifically designed to
provide high-quality sea temperature data. Results from our research
reduce uncertainties on global temperature change with unexpectedly wide
benefits also to operational oceanography and weather forecasting. Public
visibility through the Science Museum is also high.