Greenies meet to improve climate predictions

Making fundamental research pay

Research and government groups will meet this week to discuss how they can better collaborate to improve the application of climate change research.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is holding a conference today and tomorrow with the Met Office and the European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF).

The meeting comes as NERC's seven-year Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Processes and European Climate (COAPEC) programme draws to a close. The £5.5m research programme was set up to investigate how the Atlantic Ocean and the atmosphere affect the European climate. However, NERC says there is a gap between research programmes like this one and the application of their findings.

Better climate forecasts can reduce the risks from droughts, flood, heat waves, and weather-related disruption to transport. Key to producing these better forecasts is better communication between the various research and government groups involved. This should lead to new collaborations which in turn should spur on the research, NERC argues.

One of the goals of this week's meeting is to work out ways to use the results of research like COAPEC to improve the medium and long range weather and climate forecasts government and businesses need to prepare for bad weather. NERC says it is also a valuable opportunity for its scientists to demonstrate the value of fundamental research to government.

In related news, University College London is launching a new Masters degree course in Environmental Systems Engineering. The aim of the course is to produce graduates capable of developing sustainable solutions to complex environmental problems.

Course director Sarah Bell said: "Sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and we will provide students with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to meet this challenge now and into the future."

More details on this one here. ®

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