New home for University’s climate research
The Priestley Building will provide a base on the University's main campus for leading climate-related research.
Launched in 2016, the Priestley International Centre for Climate has already brought together world-leading expertise in all the key strands of climate change research.
The centre has more than 300 members from across the University covering a broad range of research areas. This includes improving predictions of future climate change through laboratory, field and computational modelling studies; developing tools to support decisions about future city infrastructure; and research exploring the cultural significance of climate in art and literature.
Now, in its new home, the dedicated space on campus will enable the centre to continue fostering collaboration across disciplines that is dedicated to understanding and tackling climate change.
The University Chancellor Dame Jane Francis will be joined by Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands to officially open the new Priestley centre building, named after Yorkshire scientist Joseph Priestley, who is credited with the discovery of oxygen and conducted pioneering experiments on the carbon cycle.
The Chancellor said: “The complexity of the climate challenge demands a broad array of ambitious solutions. The new Priestley Building offers a fantastic environment in which to expand the interdisciplinary collaborations necessary to develop the solutions.”
The Priestley International Centre for Climate has members from across all of the University’s faculties. Membership is open to any University of Leeds academic staff member or PhD researcher whose work aligns with the vision of the centre.
Priestley International Centre for Climate: Working together on climate solutions
Professor Piers Forster, Priestley centre Director and climate scientist on the Committee on Climate Change, said: “This new dedicated space will help take the centre to the next level, attracting the brightest and best students and staff from around the world to work with the great minds already working on climate solutions across the University.”
Priestley academics are already at the forefront of international climate research.
This new dedicated space will help take the centre to the next level, attracting the brightest and best students and staff from around the world to work with the great minds already working on climate solutions across the University.
Eight researchers, which include Priestley centre director Professor Piers Forster and three Priestley chairs, are contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report – the next comprehensive assessment of the science relating to climate change and is used to inform policymakers, international climate negotiators and other stakeholders.
More recently, a report including expertise from Leeds climate researchers underpinned the UK Committee on Climate Change report which has led to the groundbreaking commitment from the UK government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
The building opening kicks off a week of events across campus focused on climate-related topics:
- Being a social scientist on the IPCC: Reflections on invigorating highs and deflating lows,Tuesday 25 June 12:00 – 13:00. Petra Tschakert, winner of the 2019 Piers Sellers prize, will share her insights and experiences of being a social scientist on the IPCC.
- The Life and times of Joseph Priestley, Wednesday 26 June 12:00 – 13:00.
- A Laughing Matter? Comedy and climate change Thursday 27 June 17:30 – 18:30. Comedian Gemma Arrowsmith will examine the unlikely intersection of comedy and climate change.
- Three minutes to change the world: a Priestley Scholars Showcase, Friday 28 June, 12:00 – 12:45. A whistle-stop tour of the huge range of climate-related research that goes on at Leeds.
Piers Sellers Prize
The Priestley Building opening is also marked by the announcement of the fourth annual Piers Sellers Prize, awarded in the name of the NASA climate scientist and University of Leeds alumnus.
Professor Petra Tschakert, from the University of Western Australia, received the prize for her world-leading contribution to solution-focused climate research. Her work focuses on understanding how climate change is experienced and responded to among marginalised communities in the global south.
Tom Slater, a final year PhD researcher working in the NERC-funded Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling in the School of Earth and Environment, received the Piers Sellers prize for exceptional PhD research. Tom’s work involves using satellites to measure the height of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and how they change over time, as well as their respective contributions to global sea level rise.
He was nominated for the award by his supervisor, Professor Andy Shepherd, who commended him on developing new methods for processing satellite altimeter observations of the polar ice sheets.