NERC invests in discovery science to tackle major environmental questions

10 March 2015

NERC is investing £17·5 million to help answer fundamental questions about how the world works.

The awards, which make up 34 projects in total, were made as part of NERC's latest standard grant round. This discovery science (responsive mode) funding stream supports excellent environmental research that address - or provide the means to address - clearly-defined scientific questions.

The quest for new knowledge about the planet we live on has fascinated and inspired generations of world-leading environmental scientists, and it continues to do so.

Investing in the standard grants allows NERC to provide financial support for research projects driven by curiosity, rather than by NERC's wider strategic priorities. Asking fundamental questions about how our world works has, throughout its history, delivered benefits to society and the economy that were unforeseen when the research began.

By helping to answer these questions, NERC ensures that we will be able to manage our environment responsibly as we pursue new ways of living, doing business, escaping poverty and growing the economy.

The successful proposals demonstrate the breadth of NERC science and how it can benefit our planet's natural resources, improve resilience to environmental hazards and manage environmental change.

The grants awarded include:

  • Looking into how livestock urine affects emissions of the pollutant and greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
  • Investigating the formation of ant microbiomes, which could hold the key to new antibiotic discoveries.
  • Using real time X-ray tomography to shed new light on volcanoes and their processes which could help reduce uncertainty in predicting eruptions.
  • Probing Earth's deep interior to understand the planet's geomagnetic field and it's changes.
  • New models for tracking storms and how their paths and patterns vary to help build understand the risks they might pose to infrastructure.

The proposals were assessed in December for their scientific excellence by a moderating panel and include New Investigator grants, which reward investigators at the outset of their scientific careers.

NERC's chief executive, Professor Duncan Wingham, said:

"The range of research invested in within this latest discovery science round again exemplifies the cutting-edge, exciting environmental research that provides the cornerstone of scientific discovery and highlights why NERC-funded environmental science leads the world on excellence."

The next standard round deadline is 21 July 2015.

Further information

NERC media office
01793 411939
07785 459139