Climate & Environment
At Norwich Research Park, research into our climate and environment aims to help solve global and societal challenges, such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. Critical research into these areas will help countries manage their ecosystems and adapt to the impacts of global warming, sea level rise and more extreme weather variation.
We all know at this point that climate change is going to cause a lot of problems around the world. Global temperatures are rising and according to the MET office, heatwaves have been the deadliest global weather hazard over the past few years. Increases in temperature lead to sea level rise through melting of the ice caps and absorption of the extra heat causing expansion. Secondary effects of rising temperatures are changes to precipitation patterns and increase in the average intensity of hurricanes.
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is a partnership of universities bringing together researchers from the social and natural sciences as well as engineering to develop sustainable responses to climate change. We are fortunate enough to have one of the Tyndall Centre’s partner universities, The University of East Anglia, here on the Park.
As greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change it is vital to monitor how much is being produced and at the Tyndall Centre, they have significantly advanced the fundamental analysis of emission reduction from all major energy sectors. They’ve also increased understanding of the climate impacts, risks, and adaptation options.
The centre has four key themes for its research:
- Accelerating social transitions: in order to reduce emissions society needs to change. The Tyndall Centre analyses
perceptions to better understand the drivers and barriers to rapid social change and then delivers this information to policymakers to assist with evidence-based decision-making.
- Building up resilience: the centre builds strategies for the mitigation of climate change, but where it can’t be mitigated, strategies for adaptation to the changes climate change will cause, especially in less developed countries.
- Overcoming poverty with climate actions: Whilst emissions are mostly generated by more developed countries, the effects are going to felt most severely in less developed countries, where there is less money and infrastructure to deal with changes. The Tyndall Centre is developing understanding of the impact on less developed nations and is building strategies to help them.
- Reaching Zero Emissions: To be able to start solving the climate change issue the world has to go further than just low-carbon or no emissions. Carbon has to be actively removed from the atmosphere and this can be done with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and other ‘negative emission’ technologies.
The Tyndall Centre is not the only place for leading climate research at the University of East Anglia. Climate UEA has been pioneering climate research for over 50 years and has a multidisciplinary team of experts from natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. They are involved in the provision of the HadCRUT dataset, which is compiled from millions of air and sea surface temperature measurements taken across the globe, from all continents and all oceans. This data has confirmed that the past decade and specifically the last 6 years are the warmest on record.
Climate UEA are also working with developing countries in Africa, to help rural communities protect themselves against climate change, food, and water insecurity. The DOWN2EARTH project uses state-of-the-art seasonal forecasts and decadal projections to provide data that is translated into clear, concise, practical information that can be used by farmers, pastoralists and local communities, as well as NGOs and governments.
Researchers at Climate UEA investigated the impact that the COVID-19 lockdowns had on emissions, discovering that daily CO2 emissions decreased by 17%. This change will not last beyond the lockdowns, but the analysis has provided an insight into opportunities to make real, durable, systemic changes and be more resilient to future crises. For example, mobility contributed nearly half the decrease, so focusing on stimuli for alternative forms of travel is one of the key strategies for reducing emissions.
The Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development was set up on the Park to bring together a wealth of expertise from different organisations, allowing researchers to easily collaborate on joint projects. The institute focuses on the challenge of feeding the world’s population, especially those in less developed countries, which is made more difficult by the impact of climate change. The institute has various projects looking into crops like potatoes and legumes to try with a view to the provision of more resilient crops that can be grown reliably by farmers. They also look at sharing knowledge in different ways, for example, using climate and economic forecast modelling to develop crops that meet the needs of future generations. Education and very low cost technology are hugely helpful for farmers in less developed countries and the institute has a number of projects that look at sharing knowledge and the development of low cost tech, like the SeedSentry project where each seed sensor costs less than £0.01.