The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has awarded individual grants of up to £1.2 million to seven research projects that will use cutting-edge digital technology to advance environmental outcomes.
As part of the ‘Constructing a Digital Environment’ Programme, these projects will seek to develop tools and systems that will tackle real-life environmental challenges. The Programme aims to construct a digitally enabled environment which benefits researchers, policy makers, businesses, communities and individuals. It is funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund.
Led by NERC, the programme is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). In total, the grants comprise an investment of more than £6 million.
The successful projects, all lasting 24 months, will deliver:
- A flood risk management tool that will help emergency responders to deploy ‘just in time’ maintenance and mobile flood defences.
- The development of a monitoring system for the health status of trees and which can act as an early warning system for the movement of current threats and the incursion of new threats.
- Improvement to existing biodiversity information through producing fine-resolution species distribution models for over 1000 insect species across the UK (focusing on butterflies, moths and grasshoppers).
- A world-class greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substances analysis platform that will provide an open, cloud-based, platform for researchers to share data and analysis methods and publish workflows.
- A new point-of-impact flood hazard nowcasting system to meet national coastal management needs, which will have the potential to issue flood alerts to the National Flood Forecasting Service (NFFS).
- Research that will combine multi-scale sensor data and models will allow near real-time decision support for farmers and land managers by allowing them to gain site-specific understanding of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) sequestration and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation.
- A tool to floods and landslides monitoring tool that will monitor defence stability, an provide advanced warnings of events and improve models and visualisations of data.
Dr Simon Gardner, Head of Digital Environment, Strategic Partnerships Directorate at NERC, said:
“The grants announced today demonstrate NERC’s commitment to environmental research. They will support important projects that are building digital tools and systems to combat environmental challenges such as flooding, tree disease and reduced biodiversity.”