New £5m satellite data centre steps up fight against climate change

The project is seeking 50 ‘outstanding candidates’ from environmental science, maths, physics, engineering and computer science disciplines to undertake a PhD in the innovation centre

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The government is backing a new “ground-breaking” £5 million research project that will use satellite images to better predict the future impacts of climate change.

The Centre for Satellite Data in Environmental Science (SENSE) will see experts from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds use cutting-edge technology to measure rising sea levels, greenhouse gases and shrinking glaciers and forests.

They will enable government and industry to better understand climate change impacts and help shape policies on cutting emissions and contributing to reaching the UK’s net zero target.

The satellite technology will enable them to predict weather trends and identify areas increasingly at risk of flooding and pollution levels in towns and cities.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “The UK is leading the world in tackling climate change and we have set the bar high, as the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050 and the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions.

“This new satellite data centre will give us instant images showing us the true impact of climate change and in doing so, help us develop innovative new ways of tackling it.”

The virtual academic collaboration – which is being established with funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Space Agency (UKSA) – is seeking 50 of the UK’s “brightest and best” candidates from environmental science, maths, physics, engineering and computer science disciplines to undertake a PhD in this innovation centre.

They will work closely with experts from the universities as well as leading Earth Observation scientists and 18 businesses and partners, including Airbus and Unilever, which will co-fund, co-design and co-supervise 42 of the PhD research projects.

Dr Anna Hogg, Co-director of the centre in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, added: “Earth observation satellites collect hundreds of terabytes of data per day, delivering important information about how fast glaciers flow, the size of forest fires in the Amazon, and the quality of the air that we breathe.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to grow the community of researchers with the skills and knowledge to measure the how our environment is changing.”

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