The UK Climate Resilience Programme is pleased to announce the commencement of the first set of Embedded Researcher projects. Following a call earlier in the year for researchers to apply for opportunities in non-academic host organisations, we can now announce the first six projects (see list below). The projects will run for 12 months, with a total value of £280,000 funded by UKRI.
Commenting on the selected projects, the UK Climate Resilience co-champion Dr Kate Lonsdale said, “I am very pleased with the range of projects and host organisations in this year’s cohort of embedded researchers. I am looking forward to learning from them about this critical boundary-spanning role that will help to bridge the organisational knowledge-action gap between having a general awareness that our changing climate is something that needs to be considered in decision making and actually knowing what you can do to respond.”
Dr Lonsdale also commented on the “unique value” of the Embedded Researcher scheme, in which the researcher will spend 12 months working full time with their industry partner: “By spending time within their host organisation, getting familiar with day to day ways of working, the embedded researcher can build personal relationships and better understand constraints on decision making. This should help to ensure that the outputs of the research they have co-designed with their host organisations are useful and usable.”
Additional to the academic gains from this approach, there is equal enthusiasm from the industry partners. Geoff Darch from Anglian Water, who will be hosting a researcher from the University of Sheffield, says, “Anglian Water is delighted to participate in the embedded researcher programme. This innovative UKCRP scheme will allow us to host a top quality research scientist, who will work with us to assess resilience to climate change in our water resource systems. We will use the outcomes to inform our next long-term water resources management plan, due out for consultation in 2022.”
Addressing real-world problems
One of the principle aims of the Embedded Researcher scheme is to improve the the coordination between scientific progress and the needs of industry to address real-world problems. Briony Turner from Space4Climate, which will be partnering with King’s College London and the London Climate Change Partnership, said: “Dr Caitlin Douglas, of King’s College London, approached us with the idea of a focus on the UK’s food supply chain. We’d already picked up at trade shows an interest in space-enabled climate services from future commodities traders, many in the food supply chain, and had wondered whether there might be new types of space-enabled services required by the food sector. We are delighted with the way in which Caitlin has evolved the idea and look forward, through her work as an embedded researcher with us, to better understanding how our members can support the UK’s food supply chain in climate risk disclosure, stress-testing and as a result, climate informed management of business operations.”
A call for a second round of Embedded Researcher projects will be announced by the UK Climate Resilience Programme in 2021.
List of projects
- Project aims: To understand how improved forecast capabilities can inform future operations for assets within water systems, and how this can lead to better system-level adaptation planning under climate change, population growth, and other stressors and hazards.
- Project team: Dr Charles Rougé, University of Sheffield and Anglian Water
- Project aims: To establish a SMART objective and associated policy and action-planning framework to enable Manchester sectors to take urgent and sustained action to adapt to and increase their resilience to climate variability.
- Project team: Dr Paul O’Hare, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Manchester Climate Change Agency
- Project aims: To characterise and quantify Environment Agency flood and drought incident response activity in our current climate, as well as to understand the capacity required in future climates.
- Project team: Dr Elizabeth Lewis, Newcastle University and the Environment Agency
Developing an Urban Heat Resilience Plan for Bristol: Priorities for tackling heat vulnerability to protect health and reduce harm
- Project aims: To co-develop a Heat Vulnerability Index and a Heat Resilience Plan for the city of Bristol that will support the City Council in developing strategies to reduce heat risk and to increase resilience amongst its citizens, communities and businesses.
- Project team: Dr Charlotte Brown, University of Manchester and Bristol City Council
- Project aims: To develop risk-informed resilience of school building stock and optimise the opportunities from a transition to a low carbon future, and to characterise, quantify and communicate climate-related asset management risks by developing equitable adaptation pathways to rising heat stress under climate change.
- Project team: Dr Daniel Godoy Shimizu, University College London and the Department for Education
- Project aims: To bring stakeholders in the UK food supply chain and the earth observation industry together to create climate stress-testing tools which can improve the UK’s food security.
- Project team: Dr Caitlin Douglas, King’s College London, Space4Climate and London Climate Change Partnership