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European centres launch climate research alliance

Leading climate research organizations from eight European nations have agreed to join forces on research in four key topics related to climate change.

The European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA), a loose coalition launched yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, will focus on research on Arctic climate variability, hydrological cycles in the Mediterranean region, links between climate change and extreme weather, and sea-level rise.

“ECRA was born in the spirit of scientific self-organization,” says Karin Lochte, director of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). “The idea is to fine-tune existing capacities and infrastructures, in terms of both science and observation, in areas of mutual interest that we think will gain from joint research efforts.”

Researchers with the eight founding institutions will set up a number of detailed collaborative research projects during several workshops to be held in the course of next year. There is no fresh money involved in the initiative, but members of the collaborative projects are encouraged to apply for external grant money from the European Commission and from national funding sources.

Participating institutions so far include the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Technical University of Denmark, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technologies and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. The UK National Centre for Atmospheric Research is expected to sign up to the alliance soon, and climate-research organizations from other European countries are welcome to join any time, says Lochte.

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