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University part of major new climate change initiative

27 November 2009


Experts from across the University are part of a Wales-wide consortium to study the impact of climate change and considerably enhance the climate science profile of Wales.

Announced today, Cardiff has joined forces with the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, and Swansea in the Climate Change Consortium of Wales (C3W), a £4 million initiative to be financed by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

Together with additional support from the Countryside Council for Wales and substantial investment from the four universities, the Consortium has been developed by a group of internationally respected academics in collaboration with staff in a wide range of climate related disciplines across the four universities. These disciplines cover the causes and impact of climate change on land, sea, atmosphere and cryosphere, as well as its social consequences.

Cardiff will receive nearly a quarter of the investment to support research, including faculty positions and researchers across six partner schools – Biosciences, Psychology, Earth and Ocean Sciences, City and Regional Planning, Engineering, and Social Sciences. Together with the other members of the consortium, they will address the four Grand Challenges and themes identified by C3W: Earth system modelling; sea-level change; hazard evaluation, mitigation and adaptation; and the Welsh dimension of climate change.

C3W has two overarching aims. To improve our fundamental understanding of the causes, nature, timing and consequences of climate change on Planet Earth’s environment and on humanity; and to reconfigure climate research in Wales as a recognisable centre of excellence on the world stage.

Dr David Grant, Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor said: "The climate change agenda is an extremely pressing one which will affect the basic fundamentals of life for many people around the world. Cardiff University is already involved with some of Wales’ leading allied research areas of low-carbon energy and energy-use efficiency. Being a member of C3W will play a major role in the University's further contribution to a more sustainable future for us all, and a more collaborative, multi-disciplinary research programme across Wales to tackle climate change and its consequences.

Professor Ian Hall from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Institutional C3W Director and lead scientist for the Marine and Atmospheric Systems and Climate Change said: "C3W represents a very important opportunity to further enhance the excellent interdisciplinary climate related research that is occurring across Cardiff University.

"A unique feature of this venture will be the way natural and social scientists will work together on this problem in Cardiff for the very first time. By addressing several fundamental questions aimed at understanding the science of climate change the consortium will help reduce uncertainty in future predictions in both Wales and the UK, while also improving our knowledge of the human and societal aspects associated with such change."

Jane Hutt, Education Minister, said: "Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today and the Welsh Assembly Government is committed to playing its part in tackling it. This six year project aims to improve our understanding of the causes, nature, timing and consequences of climate change on our environment as well as establishing Wales as a recognisable authority in terms of climate research."

C3W will provide a central focus for nearly 200 academic staff, encourage formal collaboration between the universities, and build upon already established networks of UK and international partners. The intention is to inform the decision-making process concerning a sustainable future for Wales, and support the provision of relevant, up-to-date information for schools, universities, businesses and the wider public, so that they can all make informed choices about our future life-styles.

Climate change issues are being addressed by Welsh researchers not only within Wales, but across the planet from the Antarctic through the tropics to the Arctic, and from land to the deep oceans. Together, they have a global perspective that can be brought to bear on planning for our collective future. A number of collaborative ventures are already underway, including an assessment of the stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet which is implicated in future rising sea levels, and in how the past sedimentary record in the North Atlantic Ocean can inform us about future climate responses to oceanic circulation change.

The start of C3W coincides with the crucial UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (7-18 December).