Launch of new centre to monitor effects of droughts, floods and land use change

Published on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 14:15
Posted by Scott Buckler

University of Leicester scientists are set to launch a new centre which aims to predict the effects climate change and land use change will have on landscapes

The Centre for Landscape and Climate Research will measure the effects of climate change on ecosystems around the world as well as assessing the impacts of severe droughts and flooding.

The centre, based at the University of Leicester, will be opened with a launch event on September 28 featuring talks from representatives of the space company Astrium GeoInformation, the European Environment Agency, Plymouth Marine Lab, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Joint Nature Conservancy Committee, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Food and Environment Research Agency.

The centre will use satellite data to study water cycle changes around the world. They will have access to data from up to 30 years ago, and hope to be able to forecast water conditions up to 70 years in the future.

The researchers hope to research both global trends and local issues, and aim to provide recommendations to policy-makers including local authorities and the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Professor Heiko Balzter, the centre director, from the University's Department of Geography, said: "In this research centre I hope to provide a research focus that brings together physical scientists, geologists, climate scientists, ecologists, hydrologists, social scientists, computer scientists and mathematicians. The problem we are studying is very complex, and needs experts from a wide range of disciplines to understand it.

"How rainfall, soil moisture and water resources change in space and time is a highly fascinating subject. I am very excited about the opportunity to conduct research in this field."

Dr Virginia Nicolás-Perea, Research Manager for the centre, said: "Researching the water cycle is very important because it affects our way of life.

"There have been a lot of problems with droughts and flooding recently. This summer has been one of the wettest ever, and last winter was one of the driest winters ever.

"We have noticed a gap in research on the water cycle, and wanted to have the opportunity to use the satellite data to monitor climate effects – not just here in Leicester but everywhere in the world."

The launch will feature a talk from Professor Sir Robert Burgess, the University's Vice-Chancellor. It will also feature a poster session where young researchers present their results. The best poster will be awarded a prize.

Source: ©University Leicester

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