Floods. Climate change. Exposure to solar radiation. Unhealthy air pollution. Tornadoes. Windstorms. These are some of the topics that our School researches to help improve weather forecasting, public safety, air quality, and public health. Through the Centre for Atmospheric Science, dozens of academics, researchers, and students address societally relevant topics relating to the weather and climate.
• Exposure to air pollution continues to be one of the biggest environmental threats, being the cause of tens of thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK and millions more around the world. The Centre for Atmospheric Science has been at the forefront of researching these pollutants, specialising in the detailed measurement of particulate matter (PM). Our research has included studying the composition of the particles to determine their sources, how these behave and evolve once emitted to the atmosphere and how they may be transported regionally and globally. This includes detailed measurements of the atmosphere in the UK, in cities such as Manchester and London but also in many other cities and regions worldwide, including India, West Africa, China and South East Asia. We also make laboratory measurements of pollution sources such as domestic stoves, diesel engines and cooking, and conduct experiments on these emissions using our atmospheric simulation chamber and predict their evolution and transport using advanced computer simulations. These results have important implications for policymakers at both a regional and national level and we regularly communicate these through organisations such as the Manchester Environmental Research Institute (MERI) and the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG). (Contact: James Allan)
• Researchers at Manchester routinely monitor ozone and ultraviolet (UV) radiation in Manchester and Reading. The data are submitted to national and international databases from where data is used for both climate and health research. Ultraviolet radiation has both positive (vitamin D synthesis) and negative (sunburn and skin cancer) impacts on our health. Working with staff from our School of Biological Sciences we have been exploring how best to find a balance between these impacts of UV exposure. We asked whether it is possible to make enough vitamin D in our skin (on exposure to UV radiation) during summer to last us through the sun-limited winter period, without being in any danger of sunburn. We found that spending 9 minutes outside at lunchtime each day from March to September would provide for enough vitamin D if you are white-skinned and expose sufficient skin to the sun. For a brown-skinned person the equivalent time increases to 25 minutes because melanin pigment in the skin acts as a natural sunscreen. Similar assessment of the UV climatology of the UK has been used by Boots to explain how vitamin D supplements can be beneficial to health in the wintertime (link to Boots page when advertising goes live in February). (Contact: Ann Webb)
• The University of Manchester is a member of the Global Research Infrastructure IAGOS (In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System) designed to provide global and regional observations of atmospheric composition and pollution using commercial aircraft partners wishing to improve their public facing responsibility with respect to climate impact and aviation safety. These include Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air Namibia, Austrian, Sabena, LTU, and Hawaiian Airlines.
Manchester provides and maintains instruments for the IAGOS-CORE Airbus fleet and is a member of the Technical Operations Group tasked with implementing and operating the infrastructure in partnership with Airbus industrial and commercial airline partners. The University of Manchester is therefore responsible for delivery of quality controlled IAGOS data products to the Copernicus data portal for public access and for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS). IAGOS in situ data is used by the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) global and regional real-time forecast system as well as the for validation of climate models. In situ measurement profiles from IAGOS from around the globe are available in near-real-time. Differences between daily monthly model and observations are also made available, along with daily profiles at over 100 individual airports which are used to interpret model forecasts and to examine extreme weather events
Access by commercial partners to this data is also available through discussion with IAGOS based on impact and data users include Rolls Royce and Satavia to enhance aviation engine efficiency and public safety. (Contact: Martin Gallagher)
• How should society respond to climate change? How should scientists best communicate the risks of climate change? These are some of the questions that researchers are investigating, along with colleagues in the Centre for Science, Technology, and Medicine, at the University of Manchester. (Contact: David Schultz)
• Many human activities will be drastically affected by climate change, from agriculture to renewable energy generation. In order to prepare effective mitigation measures we need to know what these impacts will be. For example, will we need to plant different crop varieties that can cope in a new climate regime? Will a dam we build today still provide sufficient energy in a few decades time? Precipitation is probably the climate parameter with highest importance for people, particularly in developing nations, but it is also one of the most uncertain in climate models. Our research aims to understand why these errors occur, how precipitation errors may contribute to uncertainty in climate impacts predictions, and how climate information can be better used by policy makers. (Contact: Luis Garcia-Carreras)
• The land surface is a critical component of the climate system, as it controls the transfer of energy between the sun and the atmosphere. Nearly 40% of the Earth’s ice-free surface has already been converted to cropland or pasture, so land use and land cover change represent a large component of anthropogenic climate change. Our work aims to understand how changes in the land surface affect clouds and precipitation, and how well weather and climate models are able to predict these changes. (Contact: Luis Garcia-Carreras)
• Hazardous weather can kill, injure, and destroy property. Research at the University of Manchester is ongoing to better understand tornadoes, floods, convective storms, windstorms, . Our work often starts with case studies of individual events, such as one of the most destructive tornado outbreaks in Europe (the 24–25 June 1967 outbreak over France, Belgium, and the Netherlands). We then progress to understanding the climatology of these events, such as the climatology of tornadoes in the UK or hail in Finland. Finally, we look at the weather conditions that create these weather events, such as windstorms associated with low-pressure systems. (Contact: David Schultz)
• Cloudy with a Chance of Pain is the world's first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between weather and chronic pain. Data collection for Cloudy began in January 2016 and ended in April 2017. Five million pieces of symptom data were submitted over 15 months alongside comprehensive weather data from across the UK. Data analysis is ongoing. (Contact: David Schultz)