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From UKESM to UKESM and TerraFIRMA

Dear All

The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed the UKESM newsletter is now the UKESM and TerraFIRMA newsletter. I briefly describe the motivation for this below.

TerraFIRMA is one of six new projects funded from a £47 million investment by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), as part of their National Capability Multi-Centre Science programme. TerraFIRMA is led by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, in collaboration with several NERC-supported research centres, including: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, National Centre for Earth Observation, National Oceanography Centre, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The Met Office Hadley Centre also plays a key role in the TerraFIRMA collaboration. TerraFIRMA formally started on April 1st 2022 and will run for five years. TerraFIRMA consists of 6 interconnected work packages (see Figure 1):

WP1: Development of a 2nd generation UKESM model, project simulations and data curation.
WP2: Near-term climate forcers (NTCFs) in the Earth system and their potential for climate change mitigation.
WP3: Carbon cycle feedbacks in the Earth System and the potential for land-use climate change mitigation.
WP4: Rapid or irreversible change in the Earth system, focussing on Antarctic ice sheets, marine ecosystems and tropical forests.
WP5: The societal and environmental impacts of global change, covering 5 key areas; Water resources, Air quality and climate change, Wildfires, Marine ecology and fisheries and Global sea-level rise.
WP6 concentrates on knowledge integration and dissemination of key project findings to a range of project stakeholders and the public.

Figure 1. The structure of TerraFIRMA

Figure 1. The structure of TerraFIRMA

Much of the science in TerraFIRMA will use a new set of simulations made with UKESM models that overshoot key global warming targets, such as 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial values, before returning to these targets at some future date and then stabilizing at them long-term. We will investigate the risk of abrupt and potentially irreversible changes in the Earth system as a result of such warming overshoots and also analyse the range of societal impacts listed above, contrasting these with impacts arising if the Earth did not overshoot these targets and rather stabilized at, or just below them, long-term. Investigation of the potential for climate mitigation both from NTCFs and land-use will focus on pathways that enable the global climate to successfully stay below 2°C global warming.

As the bulk of the science in TerraFIRMA will use the world-leading capability of UKESM models, it seemed appropriate that future UKESM newsletters become joint UKESM and TerraFIRMA newsletters, with a similar presentational style as before. We hope you continue to enjoy these in the future.

Best wishes

Colin Jones (PI for TerraFIRMA and Head of the UKESM core group).