Investing in the Environment
Press release issued: 5 December 2003
A £13 million research initiative aimed at securing a sustainable future for our planet has been launched by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
QUEST (Quantifying the Earth System) will look for solutions to specific environmental questions by combining observational, modelling and experimental approaches. The three-year programme will be led by Professor Colin Prentice, who will be based within the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.
‘Earth System’ science aims to understand the complex interactions between all the Earth’s components, such as the oceans, atmosphere and biosphere, as well as the influence of human society on global change.
Identifying Earth-system science as a priority, the University of Bristol has made it’s own appointment in this exciting and newly emerging scientific discipline. Professor Paul Valdes, an expert in Earth-system modelling, will take up the Chair in Physical Geography. Professor Valdes was selected through the University’s ‘Exceptional Talent’ scheme to lead on the study of the climate system, encapsulating research in the cryosphere (ice cover), biosphere, atmosphere and the oceans.
Professor Prentice said, “I’m really excited about the QUEST Programme. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make progress on some of the hard questions like what’s going to happen to the carbon we are putting into the atmosphere as climate changes, what are the potential effects of global warming on human activities, and what has controlled the Earth’s atmospheric composition naturally – things we need to understand far better if we are really to make sense of what’s happening to the Earth today.”
He added, “I am very much looking forward to working closely with Paul Valdes and his team. His knowledge of climate modelling, links with industrial partners, and broad research interests will be of enormous benefit to QUEST.”
Professor Valdes echoes his enthusiasm for the new priorities. “Both the University and NERC are taking this challenging area of science very seriously and I’m pleased to be in at the start of the collaboration. I am already involved in several research programmes that will feed into the Earth system science area, including NERC’s Rapid Climate Change Programme which addresses some of the problems linked to climate and ocean currents. I’m looking forward to continuing and expanding my research into other parts of the Earth’s system.”