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Celebrating 15 Years of Pioneering Environmental Science Research

The National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), hosted by the University of Leicester, is celebrating 15 years of achieving transformational Earth Observation Science to understand our changing planet and fight climate change.

The 15th anniversary comes at a time of extraordinary success for the centre, having recently been awarded three major national projects.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester

The NCEO, which is headquartered at Space Park Leicester and led by the University’s Professor John Remedios, monitors the health of our planet through data from satellite instruments and provides world-class capability in interpreting these data for science and society.

It was founded in 2008 by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which provides baseline funding, and is one of six primary centres, along with the British Antarctic Survey and the almost 200-year-old British Geological Survey.

With an income of more than £10 million per year and 130 scientists distributed across 11 UK universities and three research organisations, the NCEO specialises in the use of satellites to tackle the problems of climate change, environmental pollution, land and agriculture.

One of the three new projects is an award of £7.74 million for the launch of the UK Earth Observation Climate Information Service (UKEO-CIS), a new project which will, for the first time, enable the UK to create, maintain and expand regional and global climate data from space through its own service.

Scientists at the NCEO have also been awarded £9.91 million for the Earth Observation Data Hub, which will build a next generation data platform to give the UK a single portal for accessing and processing public, research and commercial satellite data to develop new applications and environmental insights.

Elsewhere the National Physical Laboratory and NCEO have been awarded £9 million to lead a programme to monitor all sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the UK, helping to monitor progress towards the UK’s net zero target by 2050.

In response to the significant contribution of the NCEO to Leicester research and national standing, the University of Leicester has appointed three new lectureships in the School of Physics and Astronomy with support from the NCEO.

Space Park Leicester, which is the University’s pioneering space research, innovation and teaching cluster, provides
a fantastic environment for the centre’s activity, with world-class laboratory facilities and instrumentation
which observes air quality and land surface directly. It also enables NCEO scientists to easily collaborate with space and engineering groups and industry to utilise their specialist technology.

Speaking about the centre’s recent successes, Professor John Remedios said: “We are entering the NCEO’s 15th year in a strong position, working with a host of significant collaborators such as the National Physical Laboratory, the Met Office and the Satellite Applications Catapult on some of our biggest national projects to date, and with more exciting projects in the pipeline.

“At the heart of the centre is the drive to understand our planet, champion the UK and international earth observation community, and really make a difference to climate actions
– a momentum which I hope will continue for many years to come.”

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