Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Annex 2

Memorandum from the Central Council for the Laboratories of the Research Councils (CCLRC)


  1.  The role of the Central Council for the Laboratories of the Research Councils (CCLRC) is to provide the primary portal for UK scientists to access major national and international experimental and computing facilities and associated centralised expertise of a scale well beyond those normally available at individual universities. This role therefore provides cost-effective, efficient and peer-reviewed access to major facilities in the UK, primarily at the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton (RAL), Daresbury (DL) and Chilbolton (CL) Laboratories, and also at international laboratories including ILL and the ESRF at Grenoble. Over 10,000 users access these facilities per year.

  2.  CCLRC currently employees 1,750 staff, distributed primarily across eight scientific and technical Departments:

    —  Synchrotron Radiation.

    —  Computer Science and Engineering.

    —  Space Science and Technology.

    —  Central Laser Facility.

    —  Business and Information Technology.

    —  ISIS—Pulsed Neutron Radiation Source.

    —  Particle Physics.

    —  Engineering and Instrumentation.


  3.  The CCLRC's role in climate change is working and leading on major national and international research projects by:

    —  Providing technical expertise.

    —  Undertaking instrument development.

    —  Undertaking modelling and simulation.

    —  Providing data analysis and hosting data storage facilities.

    —  Developing metadata and data management.

    —  Developing access methodologies and security.

  4.  Working through Space the Science, Business and Information Technology and Computer Science and Engineering Departments, the CCLRC works on monitoring climate change through a number of national and international projects. The Council also works on projects with the Tyndall Centre and the UK Energy Research Centre. All these projects underpin the data capture required for the long-term monitoring of atmospheric content in line with the Kyoto Protocol. It is essential for understanding climate change that funding is available for capturing, monitoring, storing and simulating meteorological data.

  5.  What follows is an overview of some of the activities the CCLRC is involved in, which are essential in providing the data and simulations for monitoring climate change. The projects are funded through a variety of organisations, such as Defra, NERC, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

The Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) Programme[95]

  6.  The ATSR instruments produce infrared images of the Earth at a spatial resolution of one kilometre. The data from these instruments provide information for scientific studies of the land surface, atmosphere, clouds, oceans, and the cryosphere. The programme has included the launch of three satellites since 1991, two of which are still operational. The information and images provided through these measurements, such as monitoring the sea surface temperatures, imaging deforestation and cloud formations, are used to monitor climate change.

Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS)

  7.  Atmospheric composition can be determined through the MIPAS project. The MIPAS instrument operates in the near- to mid-infrared where many of the atmospheric trace gases playing a major role in atmospheric chemistry have important emission features. MIPAS has been used extensively to:

    —  obtain simultaneous and global measurements of geophysical parameters in the middle atmosphere:

    —  Stratospheric chemistry (ozone, water vapour, methane, nitrous oxide and nitric acid);

    —  Climatology (temperature, ozone, methane, nitrous oxide);

    —  study the chemical composition, dynamics, and radiation budget of the middle atmosphere;

    —  monitor stratospheric ozone and chlorofluorocarbons.

NERC British Atmospheric Data Centre[96]

  8.  The British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) is NERC's Designated Data Centre for the Atmospheric Sciences. BADC assists UK atmospheric researchers to locate, access and interpret atmospheric data and to ensure the long-term integrity of atmospheric data produced by NERC projects. Data suppliers include the UK Meteorological Office, the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts and NASA.

NERC Earth Observation Data Centre[97]

  9.  The NERC Earth Observation Data Centre (NEODC) is the curator of NERC's airborne remotely-sensed data and of satellite data acquired by NERC from commercial sources. Data are held securely and distributed in response to customer requests. The Data Centre ensures Earth observation data acquired by NERC are managed for the environmental research and survey community.

  10.  The NEODC acts as a portal for Earth Observation data and information and also provides advice and guidance on matters of copyright, policy and strategy with regard to NERC Earth Observation data resources.

NERC DataGrid[98]

  11.  The NERC DataGrid, hosted by the CCLRC, allows grid-based visualisation services to access a wide variety of data held at the BADC and the British and Oceanographic Data Centres[99], as well as on individual storage systems belonging to groups which register their data with the NERC DataGrid. The NERC DataGrid supports specific datasets within the meteorological and oceanographic community. The technology is extensible and is designed to allow appropriate data which are held across all the NERC disciplines to be available via the NERC DataGrid.

Millimetre-wave Airborne Receiver for Spectroscopic Characterisation of Atmospheric Limb—Sounding (MARSCHALS)

  12.  MARSCHALS measures gaseous components of the Earth's atmosphere from high altitude in the Upper Troposphere/ Lower Stratosphere (UTLS). This is a major focus for atmospheric research due to the importance of this region to climate radiative forcing, stratosphere/troposphere exchange, stratospheric ozone depletion and tropospheric chemistry. In response to a growing need for information about the UTLS, ESA has defined a programme to develop and deploy MARSCHALS.

Molecular Spectroscopy Facility (MSF)[100]

  13.  The MSF at the CCLRC enables researchers to simulate atmospheric events and gases to look at their potential global warming effects, and is available to UK and international customers for a wide range of scientific research and development applications. The Facility offers world-class scientific equipment combined with scientific and technical support from qualified and experienced staff. The MSF aspires to meet the needs of academic and industrial researchers by:

    —  operating in the far-infrared, mid-infrared, near-infrared, visible and ultraviolet regions of the spectrum;

    —  measuring absorption, extinction, reflectance and emission spectra; and

    —  studying solid, liquid, aerosol and gaseous samples.

The High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS)[101]

  14.  The HIRDLS instrument is an international joint development project between the USA and UK and was launched on the 15 July 2004. HIRDLS is a multi-channel limb-viewing infrared radiometer for high-resolution monitoring of upper tropospheric, statospheric, and mesospheric temperature, trace chemicals, and geopotential height gradients. These are the key elements that are needed to understand the chemistry and dynamics of those regions, including the roles of planetary and gravity waves in transporting and mixing radiatively and chemically active species that are important to climate change.

The Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME)

  15.  The GOME[102] instrument is onboard the ESA satellite ERS-2 and is a moderate resolution spectrometer which measures the radiation reflected and emitted by the Earth. From this information it is possible to infer, to various degrees, the distribution of different trace gases within the atmosphere. In particular, the work of the CCLRC, funded by NERC, has been retrieving the vertical distribution of ozone in both the stratosphere and troposphere. GOME is the first satellite instrument which is able to do this on a global scale.

  16.  Following the success of GOME, an improved instrument, GOME-2[103], is intended to provide a continuous record of global observations from 2006-20, designed to measure the total column and profiles of atmospheric ozone and the distribution of other key atmospheric constituents. GOME-2 will measure the radiance back-scattered from the atmosphere and the surface of the Earth in the ultraviolet and visible range. Although designed primarily for the measurement of profiles of atmospheric ozone, the instrument detects and measure several atmospheric trace gases. These include nitrogen compounds, halogen compounds and sulphur dioxide. Furthermore, the wide wavelength coverage permits monitoring of aerosols and polar stratospheric clouds.

Scanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CHartographY (SCIAMACHY)

  17.  SCIAMACHY is a limb (horizon) and nadir viewing instrument which provides global measurements of trace gas concentrations in the troposphere and stratosphere. The instrument, an imaging spectrometer, scans the atmosphere between the Earth's surface and an altitude of about 90 km (56 miles) and can detect a range of trace gases, aerosols, cloud height and coverage. The data captured are important for a number of important environmental issues such as the emissions of greenhouse gases, the amount of industrial pollution and the role of natural atmospheric processes such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires in the changing composition of the atmosphere and cloud coverage.


  18.  EARTHSHINE will be the UK's first deep-space mission and will use small satellite technology at large distances from the Earth. It is a novel concept for a low-cost, fast, responsive project that builds on the UK's past involvement in small satellite development. EARTHSHINE will make a unique set of observations that are vital to a wide variety of scientific disciplines. By carrying just four instruments, each carefully designed to combine with the other three, it will answer key questions about how Earth's climate and space environment are influenced by the Sun—questions that have vital social, political and financial as well as scientific importance.

Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office (HMNAO)[105]

  19.  HMNAO is based within SSTD at the CCLRC. HMNAO is responsible for producing the annual volumes of The Astronomical Almanac, The Nautical Almanac, Astronomical Phenomena, The Star Almanac and The UK Air Almanac in the United Kingdom. Several of these publications are produced in collaboration with our colleagues at the US Naval Observatory.

  20.  HMNAO also produces astronomical data suitable for a wide range of users, including professional and amateur astronomers, mariners, aviators, surveyors, the armed forces, lawyers, religious groups, architects, schools, diary and calendar publishers, photographers and film crews.

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