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UEA scientists strengthen UK commitment to greenhouse gases science

The UK has become the newest member of an international consortium supporting science on greenhouse gases, through a long-term research infrastructure.

University of East Anglia (UEA) scientists are part of the community of researchers forming the UK contribution to the Integrated Carbon Observation System European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ICOS ERIC) - a long-term research infrastructure supporting science on greenhouse gases (GHG).

UEA runs the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory, a United Nations Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) Regional station located on the North Norfolk Coast. It was established in 1992 by the University with funding from BP (Norway) plc and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Since 2002 the facility has been supported by the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) and is currently a part of its NERC funded national capability through the provision of the Atmospheric Measurement Facility (AMF).

Dr Andrew Manning, reader in UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences (ENV) and leading UEA’s ICOS contribution at the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory, said: “Historically, the UK has been very poor at atmospheric greenhouse gas measurement, despite being leaders in many other areas of climate change research. In recent years, this situation has been changing for the better, and is now further cemented as we join our European colleagues in the long-term ICOS infrastructure.”

A world-class community of UK researchers works on greenhouse gas science issues, ranging from establishing emissions with rigorously evaluated uncertainties, through to evaluating likely future changes and the efficacy of potential policy responses. This community operates across marine, atmospheric and terrestrial systems and is underpinned by a strong UK network of diversely funded observing systems.

Dr Dorothee Bakker, senior lecturer in ENV, said: “Joining ICOS is an exciting step for UK greenhouse gas scientists. Greenhouse gas studies require international collaboration. Being part of ICOS will enable UK scientists to operate at the forefront of international GHG research.”

Dr Bakker currently leads SOCAT (Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas, www.socat.info), a publicly available collection of 18.5 million quality controlled carbon dioxide observations for the global oceans and coastal seas, by the international marine science community, which released its latest synthesis products on 1 September. SOCAT will be one of the users of data generated by ICOS. 

The five UK stations submitted to ICOS are the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory, the Porcupine Abyssal Plain sustained ocean observatory run by the National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) and the Met Office; the UK-Caribbean line, run by the University of Exeter and NOC; the Western Channel Observatory, run by the Plymouth Marine Laboratory; and the Auchencorth Moss ecosystem station, run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The UK is also committed to co-host the ICOS Ocean Thematic Centre jointly with Norway and to contribute to the science research of the ICOS European Research Infrastructure Consortium.

Werner Kutsch, ICOS ERIC Director General, blogged “I cordially welcome our UK colleagues. The UK is an important and ambitious country in the mitigation of climate change. UK’s GHG emissions (excluding land use, land-use change and forestry) were reduced by 34.3 % between 1990 and 2014 (EEA 2016). This is 10% more than the European average.”

For more information on the UK's role in ICOS visit the website: http://www.icos-uk.org/.