TerraFIRMA – Future Impacts, Risks and Mitigation Actions in a changing Earth system

Global climate change is the leading environmental challenge facing humanity today.

Reliable guidance on the risks and impacts of future climate change, combined with robust information on mitigation options for limiting future change, are urgently required.

Through the TerraFIRMA programme we will deliver:

  • a suite of novel future climate projections, investigating the risks and impacts associated with overshooting key global warming targets and the reversibility of any triggered changes and impacts.
  • an assessment of the leading mitigation options available to limit future climate change, while considering other policy goals such as air quality, human health and food security

TerraFIRMA objectives

  1. To advance our understanding and quantification of future Earth System change and mitigation options, with specific focus on;
    • Near-Term Climate Forcers (NTCFs, e.g. methane, tropospheric ozone, aerosols and aerosol precursors) and their potential for mitigation of future climate change and air quality.
    • Carbon cycle feedbacks and their role in realizing climate mitigation targets.
    • Human and natural land use and its potential for climate change mitigation
    • The risk of rapid, potentially irreversible change in key Earth system phenomena.
    • The reversibility of climate change, including rapid change events, should warming targets be exceeded and returned to at a later date. 

  2. To understand and document a set of societal and environmental impacts of global change, following a range of mitigation and overshoot scenarios.

  3. To support the UK global change research community through provision of new National Capability datasets, models and research tools to further science and policy impact.

  4. To work with stakeholders and project collaborators to maximise the benefits of the programme for informing climate-related policies and actions.

Team and Collaboration

The programme involves eight Centres (BAS, BGS, CPOM, NCAS, NCEO, NOC, PML, UKCEH) funded through UKRI-NERC National Capability. We will partner with the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) and develop a strong collaboration with parallel activities at UK universities and NERC funded centres to realize the science goals of the project and to ensure work across NERC feeds into improving UK National Capability tools.

We will ensure our simulations are fully available to all NERC and MOHC scientists and will work with the UK community to deliver a set of improved Earth system models and analysis tools.

TerraFIRMA has a stakeholder group consisting of the UK government departments and agencies to enable the project to co-develop simulations and deliver science knowledge to support policy.

TerraFIRMA consists of 6 workpackages (see Figure 1):

WP1: Project models, simulations, data and observations.

WP2: Near-term climate forcers in the Earth system and their mitigation potential.

WP3: Carbon cycle feedbacks in the Earth System and the potential for climate mitigation.

WP4: Rapid or irreversible change in the Earth system with an emphasis on: (i) Antarctic ice sheets, (ii) Marine productivity and ecosystems and (iii) Tropical forests.

WP5: The societal and environmental impacts of global change. With an emphasis on: (i) Water resources and land stability (ii) Air quality and climate change, (iii) Wildfires, (iv) Marine ecology and fisheries and (v) Global sea-level rise.

WP6: Knowledge integration, engagement and project management.

Figure1: TerraFIRMA work packages and stakeholder collaboration