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Environmental Modelling and Observation

The Environmental Modelling and Earth Observation cluster is based within UCL Department of Geography and comprises a diverse group of internationally renowned researchers who are leading efforts to better understand the complexities of atmospheric, hydrological, geomorphological and ecological systems and their responses to, and feedbacks with, environmental change. The complexity and inherent non-linearity of environmental system behaviour means that such questions must necessarily be approached through modelling. Innovative model-based science combined with rigorous observation and validation is therefore central to the work of this cluster. Significant and sustained external funding has been secured from, inter alia, EA, ESA, NASA, EU Framework, DEFRA, DiFID and NERC. We enjoy strong collaborative linkages with two other co-located clusters concerned with Recent Environmental Change and Biodiversity, and with Past Climates. Our work is focused under two major themes: (1) Modelling Climate Change, Its Impacts and Adaptation; and (2) Modelling and observing Terrestrial Ecosystems.

1. Modelling Climate Change, Its Impacts and Adaptation

Our aim under this theme is to elucidate the subtleties of climate change and to contribute new and more robust methodologies with which to understand and predict the response of diverse earth surface systems to environmental variability and change more generally, and the appropriateness of alternative adaptation strategies. Our work in this area is characterised by a wide spectrum of models and methodologies deployed over a cascade of scales, from the global to the local. Sub-themes include: Understanding future climates (Dr Chris Brierley); Regional impacts of climate change (Professor Richard Taylor and Dr Julian Thompson); and Coastal system responses to climate change and human activity (Dr Helene Burningham and Professor Jon French).

2. Modelling and Observing Terrestrial Ecosystems

This theme is led by Dr Mat Disney and Professor Philip Lewis and aims to develop our understanding of radiation interactions with the terrestrial land surface, particularly vegetation, and exploit this understanding in the application of Earth Observation (EO) to monitoring and quantifying terrestrial ecosystem dynamics. EO data are fundamental to quantifying ecosystem states and dynamics because of their spatio-temporal coverage across scales, and their information content. We have taken a leading role in international efforts to improve the way we exploit observations of the land surface, particularly in moving the field from loose empirical correlations to using physically-based models for retrieving biophysical parameters. Sub-themes include: New methods for exploiting global-scale satellite observations; EO data products; and Model – data linkages.

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