NERC is the UK's leading funder of climate science and our research has been crucial in uncovering the effects of climate change on the planet. In 1985, NERC scientists discovered the hole in the ozone layer, laying the foundations for the Montreal Protocol, one of the most successful international environmental agreements ever.
In 2015, Paris hosted the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP21. This was a crucial conference, as the world needed an international agreement to have a chance of keeping global warming below 2°C. Through presenting their research, hosting events and speaking at COP, NERC scientists provided evidence and expertise to support negotiators in coming up with an effective agreement.
The Framework Convention, which came into force in 1994, acknowledges the existence of human-induced climate change and places the main responsibility for combating it on industrialised countries.
NERC climate change research
NERC scientists at COP21
Dr Carol Turley is from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Her research has been centred on the ocean's biogeochemical cycles, looking at habitats from shallow and deep-sea sediments, estuaries, and frontal systems to large enclosed waters. She has researched pelagic-benthic coupling and the role of sediment dwelling microorganisms on mediating sediment processes and the effect of sediment bound contaminants on biodiversity and biogeochemical processes. She briefs a wide range of interested global stakeholders, including the UK's Department of Energy & Climate Change, Defra, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Government Office for Science, as well as the UK government chief scientists, on the latest science of ocean acidification and she has presented in the Houses of Parliament and European Parliament.
Professor Joanna Haigh is the co-director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change & Environment. Her scientific interests include: atmospheric radiative transfer; climate modelling; radiation codes for numerical models; interaction of radiation, dynamics and photochemistry in the middle atmosphere; radiative forcing of climate change.
Jim Skea is a professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Centre for Environmental Policy and is currently the Research Councils UK energy strategy fellow - external link. His particular research interests are in energy, climate change and technological innovation. Jim has strong links to policy processes. Professor Skea is a founding member of the UK's Committee on Climate Change and and will be co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III (Mitigation) at COP21.
Dr Ed Hawkins is a climate scientist in NCAS-Climate, based at the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading. His research interests are in decadal variability and predictability of climate, especially in the Atlantic region, and in calculating the different sources of uncertainty in climate predictions and impacts. Ed is a Contributing Author to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) - external link - and a member of the CLIVAR Scientific Steering Group.
Corinne Le Quéré is professor of climate change science & policy at the University of East Anglia and director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. She conducts research on the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. Her research has contributed to understanding how climate change and variability affects the air-sea flux of CO2 and the ocean carbon sink, particularly in the Southern Ocean. Professor Le Quéré was author of multiple assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Paul Pearson is a professor in the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University. His scientific interests include Cenozoic palaeoclimate, climate proxies, micropalaeontology, evolutionary palaeobiology and stratigraphy. Professor Pearson specialises in evolutionary and geochemical studies of planktonic foraminifera, and what they tell us about the long history of climate change on Earth.
Professor Nigel Arnell is a professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. He is a world-leading expert in the impacts of climate change on hydrology and water resources. Professor Arnell has developed research into techniques for aiding adaptation to climate change, specifically in ways of charactering and incorporating uncertainty, and on using climate scenario information to inform decisions. He has contributed to the IPCC reports and to the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.
Dr Phil Williamson is a NERC science coordinator, based at the University of East Anglia. He has been involved in global change research programmes since the mid-1980s, working for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and NERC Head Office. Ongoing/recent activities include the UK Ocean Acidification research programme, the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry programme, and the UK Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study; he has also been lead author for three reports by the Convention on Biological Diversity, on ocean acidification and climate geoengineering.