Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

£16m confirmed for UK climate change monitoring system

Following a review by the international science community, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has confirmed that it will provide £16·1m to continue the research programme that provides a detection system for climate changes in the Atlantic Ocean.

The RAPID Climate Change programme has been running since 2001 and was due to end this year, 2008. The new programme, RAPID-WATCH, will allow the observations in the Atlantic to continue until 2014.

The committee reviewing RAPID commended NERC on its international leadership in taking on the challenge of providing direct and continuous monitoring of the Atlantic Ocean's Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC). Early results from the main instrument array, which has been deployed into the ocean at a latitude of 26°N, have demonstrated that continuous monitoring can accurately measure changes in the MOC on time scales of days to years. These results show the value of continuing with the monitoring programme.

Dr Meric Srokosz, programme coordinator for RAPID, said, 'The Gulf flows at an average rate of 20 million cubic metres per second - but this flow varies from as little as four million cubic metres to about 35 million. This means past isolated measurements could be highly misleading.'

RAPID-WATCH will continue monitoring the MOC using the moored array in the North Atlantic and will also exploit the data being collected. The observations are being made in conjunction with UK (Hadley Centre) and international (USA, Germany and Canada) partners.

Dr Mike Webb, science and innovation manager for NERC, said, 'The RAPID programme has been such a success that we anticipate getting funding from UK and international partners that will boost the budget for RAPID-WATCH to around £30m over the next five years.'

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