University of Leicester eBulletin

Leicester is put on the hotspot

April 2002

No 88   

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Minister Margaret Beckett is announced a major programme in the investigation of climate impacts (THURSDAY APRIL 25).

The University of Leicesterís important role in monitoring global climate change forms part of this programme.

DEFRA's new space instrument - AATSR on the ENVISAT satellite - is now generating high-quality images of the Earth, marking the successful start of its mission to monitor global changes in the temperature of the Earth's Ocean surfaces - an important indicator of climate change. It is in this area that Leicester has an important role in this project.

New and impressive images of the Earth are now being acquired by the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR), which is a space instrument on board the European Space Agency's environmental satellite Envisat. Envisat was launched on March 1st 2002 and is the largest civilian satellite ever constructed in Europe. A number of instruments are on board, and together they will provide data on almost every aspect on climate and environmental research. 

DEFRA has made a special contribution to the Envisat programme by being the main funding partner and lead agency in the development and provision of the AATSR instrument. AATSR is designed to measure sea surface temperature to very high levels of accuracy, better than 0.5 degrees in order to allow scientists to monitor climate trends and improve predictions of future climate change. AATSR is the third in a series of UK-developed instruments and has been developed by a consortium comprising Astrium UK Ltd, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and other industrial partners. The programme has also benefited from a significant contribution from Australia and support from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Leicester has a particularly prominent role in the AATSR project. Professor David Llewellyn-Jones from the University's Space Research Centre is the Principal Investigator for the AATSR programme and has also filled that role for the two predecessor instruments. In this capacity he has had responsibility for ensuring that the AATSR will be capable of meeting its scientific objectives of monitoring global climate change and also of advising DEFRA about all aspects of the programme. 

Also in the Space Research Centre, Dr Marianne Edwards is the validation scientist, whose responsibility it is to lead and coordinate a worldwide programme of measurements of surface temperature beneath the satellite to provide a validation of its performance. 

Again at Leicester, scientists will be using ENVISAT data in a number of research projects concerning different aspects of climate change, including the detecting of global warming trends over the past decade. 

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: Images are available from the Press Office- email  

More details: [External Link] The Press Conference in London took place on Thursday 25th April, at Nobel House, Smith Square, at 12.30pm.

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