University of Reading welcomes UK move to host European weather centre20 October 2020
The University of Reading has welcomed UK Government plans to locate key scientific research by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) at the University.
The submission this month by the UK Government to ECMWF's governing council is in addition to longstanding plans to provide a new, state-of-the-art headquarters for ECMWF on the University of Reading's Whiteknights campus. The latest plan would bring together on the same site the Centre's operational and fundamental research activities, including vital services for monitoring the changing climate, providing clear benefits for scientific collaboration.
ECMWF, which is an international membership organisation and not part of the European Union, is currently located around 2km away in Shinfield Road, Reading, where it has been based since 1975. The proximity of ECMWF and the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology, and the close working relationship between the two, is one of the reasons why the UK is considered a world leader in atmospheric science.
The decision on the location for the new ECMWF facility, including the Copernicus activities on climate and atmospheric monitoring, is expected to be reached at a meeting of the ECMWF Council in December.
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: "The University and ECMWF have developed alongside each other in Reading over the past half century to the great benefit of each other, the Centre's member states, and to science.
'A successful UK bid will help to develop the crucial climate services that Europe will need to implement the European Green Deal' -- Professor Robert Van de Noort
"I believe that a successful UK bid will strengthen this partnership and help to develop the crucial climate services that Europe will need to implement the European Green Deal. The next few years will be key to improving the world's understanding of, and response to, climate change and other environmental pressures. As one of the co-hosts of the next major international climate summit, COP26, the UK Government has shown strong commitment to providing international leadership on climate issues.
"Bringing our two organisations physically together with a landmark new building on our Whiteknights campus will help with this immensely, and the University of Reading is delighted that the UK Government is making every effort to make this happen.
"I would like to thank my colleagues who have been working hard for several years on these plans, as part of the University's long-term ambition to grow its strength in environmental sciences and to lead the world in the study of weather and climate. The world needs the best possible data, and the skilled workforce to make use of them, if we want to solve the climate crisis."
'This will be the best outcome for the quality of the science, and therefore the best result for ECMWF's member states' -- Professor Ted Shepherd
Professor Ted Shepherd FRS, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Reading who works closely with ECMWF, said: "I am delighted that the UK Government is working to expand the existing networks of research in atmospheric science in the UK. This will be the best outcome for the quality of the science, and therefore the best result for ECMWF's member states, who need access to the highest quality scientific services and forecasts.
"People around the world are already benefitting from some of these collaborations, such as the global flood warning systems developed by ECMWF and including many Reading scientists. This has provided the most detailed advance warning of floods anywhere on the globe, helping to prevent disasters by moving people out of harm's way and allowing humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to flood zones, before it even starts raining.
"By working together, Reading and ECMWF scientists have improved the accuracy of forecasts of climate and environmental hazards, such as heatwaves, cold snaps and storms, giving governments and businesses the kind of information they need to take action. This kind of information will become more important in the future as we witness more extremes of weather due to climate change."
The UK's latest proposals come a year after the former Science and Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore MP, visited the University to reaffirm the UK government's continued commitment to efforts to keep world-leading capacity for climate and weather research in the UK. See video >
Leading the world in weather and climate
The University of Reading is one of the world's leading centres for the study of weather, climate and other environmental processes, ranked #2 in the world for meteorology and atmospheric science. It plays a key role in research and, crucially, in training the next generation of leaders in environmental science.
Its Department of Meteorology, with 200 scientists and 150 students, helps inform how governments, organisations and societies respond to issues such as climate change, ozone depletion, air pollution and space weather. The department includes seven professors elected as Fellows of the Royal Society, hosts the UK's Regius Professorship in Meteorology and Climate Science, and six lead authors of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - more than any other organisation in the world in the key section on the physical understanding of climate change.
ECMWF, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, is a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing global numerical weather predictions and other data for its Member and Co-operating States and beyond. The Centre has one of the largest supercomputer facilities and meteorological data archives in the world.