UK Government’s Earth Observation investment announcement highlights University of Leicester expertise

Professor John Remedios, Professor of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester and Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO).

The University of Leicester’s near-thirty year track record in Earth Observation Science has been acknowledged by the UK Government as it announces significant new investment in the sector.

The UK Government have announced a significant investment totalling £380 million in funding to invest in the UK Earth Observation sector. The funding has been pledged to enable the UK EO sector to remain at the forefront of Earth Observation technology and knowhow, protect the future of UK talent and industry in Earth Observation and mitigate the impact of ongoing delays to UK participation in the EU Copernicus programme.

George Freeman, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, highlighted the University of Leicester’s longstanding role in the sector in his written statement to the House of Commons announcing monies which have been invested specifically in mitigation for the EU programme, recorded in Hansard:

“The UK has a vibrant landscape of world-leading EO academic and industrial organisations and a well-founded reputation for excellence in EO. For example, in climate science, leading UK research institutions have been measuring sea and land surface temperature from space for over three decades—Oxford University, RAL Space, Reading University and Leicester University. This data is used by meteorological agencies around the world to improve weather forecast accuracy, helping to save lives, infrastructure and crops.”

Professor John Remedios, Professor of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester and Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), has welcomed this news of major investments by the UK Government, signalling recognition of the value of the Earth Observation (EO) community who are working to use space assets to protect our planet. 

Professor Remedios said: “The Minister’s announcement of  strengthened funding for the Earth Observation sector showcases puts the spotlight not only on the vital role played by this sector in the UK economy, but also the pioneering work that the University of Leicester has led over decades on surface temperature as the Principal Investigator for the Along Track Scanning Radiometers. Two national projects have been announced as part of this investment that will be co-ordinated through University of Leicester staff of NCEO based at Space Park Leicester, demonstrating Leicester’s standing in harnessing space technologies in the effort to combat climate change.

“This is an important step in the right direction for the UK Earth Observation science community. The funding maintains strong international collaborations despite challenges with the Copernicus programme. It initiates foundational projects in the UK that we have never had before in the form of EO climate data services and data infrastructure. The support will enable UK science and industry to lead EO satellite missions, deliver world-class climate information and grow business for the benefit of all in the UK and worldwide.”

Two new investments will support UK scientists in producing new and more accurate climate data from space and unique facilities for data access and processing. These will advance the fight against climate change with space technologies, a focus of the National Space Strategy. UK EO Climate Information Service (UKEO-CIS) will produce new climate data, provide more accurate insights into national and international impacts of the climate crisis and help guide the UK towards greater resilience to the effects of climate change. EO Data Hub will build a next generation data platform to give the UK a single portal for accessing and processing satellite data to develop new applications and environmental insights.

The NERC-funded National Centre for Earth Observation has its headquarters at Space Park Leicester, the University of Leicester’s pioneering space research, innovation and teaching cluster. The University also employs around 300 academics and researchers working on space and Earth observation, one of the largest groups in the UK.