Climate change is real! It is an existential threat, and we are already living through the negative effects of it. The earth’s atmosphere is warming faster than ever, polar ice caps are melting, and the global climatic pattern and natural habitats are changing quickly than animals, and human beings can adapt. It requires an urgent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, and other required steps need to be taken immediately.
£61M cash injection to support UK scientists
In the latest development, the UK government has announced a £61M (approx €68.4M) cash injection to support UK scientists on the largest flying lab in Europe to tackle pressing environmental challenges.
The fund will be provided through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK government’s main agency for funding and managing research in the environmental sciences. The fund will secure the aircraft’s operations for the next ten years.
Leading UK scientists will take to the skies on the largest flying laboratory in Europe to research some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges – the reason behind rising methane in the Arctic, monitoring volcanic gases, and severe weather events.
Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)
The investment will enable scientists and researchers to continue environmental research missions at altitudes of up to 10 kilometres for the next ten years onboard the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) Airborne Laboratory. It involves collecting data on emission and pollution levels from remote locations around the world, such as above the North Sea and volcanoes in Iceland.
Head of the FAAM Airborne Laboratory Alan Woolley says, “From measuring cloud microphysics to detecting complex chemical species, the aircraft is a highly capable flying laboratory. It is capable of operating nearly everywhere in the world and supports global research initiatives, helping scientists and society to tackle the environmental challenges ahead, including climate change, air pollution, and severe weather.
Customised aircraft for atmospheric research
The Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) operates a specially adapted research aircraft based at Cranfield University and Airport, Bedfordshire. FAAM Airborne Laboratory operates around the world and flies for about 400 hours a year. It makes measurements in the atmosphere, almost anywhere in the world. The whole aircraft is managed by a team of scientists, engineers, flight technicians, and project managers.
FAAM’s research aircraft is owned by UK Research and Innovation and managed through the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. The aircraft is headquartered at Cranfield University.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. It works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and the government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. It operates across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7B. NERC is also a part of UKRI.
Conducted various experiments
Previously, the aircraft has conducted various research including searching for new sources of air pollutants during the Cape Verde dust season, measuring cloud atmospheres to improve weather forecasts, tracking the source of methane emissions in Africa and the Arctic to help combat global temperature rises.
The data captured will be transmitted to the ground helping government, businesses, universities, and researchers, helping the UK meet its net-zero emissions.
UK Research and Innovation’s Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Natural Environment Research Council Iain Williams says, “The FAAM aircraft makes an important contribution to UK environmental science by providing researchers with a unique facility with which to monitor and analyse the atmosphere.”
The investment reflects the government’s commitment to boost spending on research and development to £22B (approx €25B) by 2024/25, supporting the UK’s most groundbreaking research.
Main image credits: FAAM