Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, officially opened the Cranfield University/NCAS Centre for Atmospheric and Emissions Research today.

The £3m research hub - the result of joint investment from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS and Cranfield - provides a collaborative space for advanced research, and will be home to Cranfield’s Centre for Atmospheric Informatics and Emissions Technology (CAIET) and the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM).

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: "Climate change and reducing emissions is one of the most important challenges of our time, and the UK takes a proud leadership role in fostering positive action.

"Greater knowledge and the development of new technologies is crucial to this. This investment is a prime example of the projects our Industrial Strategy will support - enabling UK scientists to carry out pioneering work that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of climate change science and leads an international effort to improve the environment for future generations."

NERC investment has ensured this will be a centre of international excellence which will allow both Cranfield and FAAM to collaborate. NCAS’ involvement highlights the significance for the UK of atmospheric science, with Met Office scientists also based here. Cranfield University’s airport is also home to FAAM’s iconic Atmospheric Research Aircraft (the ARA).

Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield, said: “The Centre is the latest in a series of world-class facilities on campus, and is the result of multi-agency collaboration.  The Centre heralds a new era in climate and atmospheric understanding.”

CAIET will research air quality, climate change and ozone depletion. Currently, Cranfield’s CAIET technology is being used in circumnavigating the South Pole on a multinational, multi-disciplinary research voyage to understand one of the key issues in climate science - the effect of aerosols on the radiative properties of clouds.

NERC Chief Executive Prof Duncan Wingham said: “This collaboration builds on NERC’s existing investments in the national capability provided by NCAS and the unique airborne laboratory FAAM, aiming to advance our understanding of how emissions contribute to impacts on our planet and its inhabitants – be these air pollution, climate change or ozone depletion. I look forward to seeing this exciting endeavor develop in the years to come."

The minister also toured the University’s newly completed nine-metre tall glasshouse, which offers year-round pilot-scale experiments on crop growth and development under different soil conditions. It is equipped with LED grow-lights and controls temperature and humidity inside the building.

The glasshouse will be used in collaboration with research partners. It supports the Government’s Agri-Tech strategy to help develop advanced technologies that will increase productivity and sustainability in supporting the UK to become a world leader in agriculture expertise.

Jo Johnson
(l-r) Prof Mobbs NCAS, Sir Peter Gregson, Prof Wingham, Jo Johnson MP, Alan Woolley FAAM

Notes for editors

Cranfield Environment and Agrifood

For the past 50 years, Cranfield has been contributing to enhancing natural capital and ensuring that global food systems are more resilient for the future. We are recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for our research and teaching in plants, soil, water and air.

We believe that environmental problems can be alleviated through technological innovation and risk management.

We are working with the UK government on two multi-million pound agricultural technology centres – Agri-EPI (The Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre) and CHAP (Centre for Crop Health and Protection).

Our education, research and consultancy is enhanced by our world-class facilities including the National Reference Centre for Soils, which houses the largest collection of its kind in Europe and is recognised as the UK’s definitive source of national soils information, and our big data visualisation suite, which has tools to analyse big data collections including environmental resources from 280 countries/territories worldwide.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.