Aberystwyth University research work recognised at COP26

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 4th December 2021 7:00 am
[email protected]
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the COP26 conference

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Work being done at Aberystwyth University has been recognised at an international climate summit.

In support of the international effort towards addressing climate change, Aberystwyth University has been working together with the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to generate, validate and compare high resolution global maps of forest biomass.

This the first time that such maps have been made publicly available and easily accessible as an interactive tool, and they directly support efforts to establish the past and current state of forest carbon and impacts on climate.

The university manages and coordinates ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Biomass project but also Living Wales, which has been involved with supporting validation of these biomass maps for Wales.

These products have also been integrated into the land cover maps for Wales, which are available on the website geoportal and were also presented at COP26.

Manager of the European Space Agency’s Climate Change Initiative Biomass project Heather Kay said: “For me personally, COP26 was a mixture of emotions – of both major hopes and serious concerns. It was heartening to hear Ministers and others highlight the importance of the Earth Observation work we do here in Aberystwyth.

“There was wide recognition of the mantra that you can only manage what you can measure, and our maps of global above-ground forest biomass provide this sort of information.

“In the green zone of the summit, I was able to interact with the public as well as delegates from countries who need this satellite data.

“Given the new pledge made at COP26 to halt deforestation by 2030, our datasets can provide key information on whether these targets are being met.”

The university has also worked with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) to ensure public release of an entry point for accessing datasets relevant to the Paris Agreement, including global maps of mangrove extent over a number of years that have been generated with international partners.

Professor Richard Lucas from Aberystwyth University commented: “Collectively, Aberystwyth University is making a substantive contribution to global efforts at addressing the climate and also biodiversity emergencies.

“We are making this data available to all interested and relevant stakeholders, including the public, to inform and drive proactive responses.”

Additionally, Miranda Whall from the School of Art performed ‘Crossed Paths – Scots Pine’ in Glasgow city centre and exhibited a series of films, photographs and books in the UK Universities Networks exhibition stand in the Green Zone.

The researchers’ data can be viewed at the interactive Living Wales Exhibition at the Centre for Alternative Technology with future exhibits planned for Aberystwyth.

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