Earthwatch is pleased to announce the opening of its Europe Regional Climate Centre as part of the HSBC Climate Partnership.*
The Climate Centre will be the base for a five-year climate change and forestry research programme that Earthwatch is running with local partners the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and Oxford University's Wildlife and Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). It is one of five centres throughout the world. The others are located in Brazil, India, China and North America.
Teams of HSBC employees from all over Europe and members of the local Oxfordshire community will spend time working alongside scientists in Wytham Woods. They will look at many aspects of forest ecology from the flow of carbon within woodlands to the response of populations of small mammals and insects to changes in weather patterns. Between them, the teams will clock up an impressive 40,000 hours of field work, equivalent to a single scientist working alone for 21 years.
This field season, teams have already recorded early sightings of both red admiral and painted lady butterflies at the Climate Centre. Both of these are migrant species and early sightings could be a sign of climate change.
Earthwatch's Field Director Rowan Byrne is heading up a team of local staff at the Climate Centre. He explains the regional importance of the research programme. "Here in Oxfordshire, we live on a floodplain. Forests play a crucial role in reducing the impacts of heavy rainfall and protecting vulnerable communities from the worst impacts of flooding, by holding water in the landscape and releasing it slowly. As extreme flooding events are predicted to become more frequent in a changing climate, it is increasingly important that we maintain our already heavily impacted forests in as healthy a state as possible."
The research that will be carried out in Wytham Woods fits into the wider global research programme and results will be shared with scientists and forest managers.
Dr Dan Bebber, Head of Climate Change Research at Earthwatch explains, "Oxfordshire's woodlands are typical of many temperate European forests. They have been heavily impacted by forestry and agriculture over the years, potentially rendering them vulnerable to climate change. The data that we gather here in Oxfordshire will be relevant to similar forests throughout northern Europe and will help us to predict how these ecosystems will respond to climate change."
* Formed in 2007, the HSBC Climate Partnership brings together HSBC, the Climate Group, Earthwatch, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF to tackle the urgent threat of climate change on people, water, forests and cities.
HSBC Climate Partnership - www.hsbc.com/climatepartnership
The HSBC Climate Partnership (HCP) is a $100 million, five-year partnership funded by HSBC, working with the Climate Group, the Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF. Launched in May 2007, the HCP will:
• make some of the world's great cities - Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York and Shanghai - cleaner and greener, which the partners will promote as models for the world;
• create 'climate champions' worldwide who will undertake field research and bring back valuable knowledge and experience to their communities;
• conduct the largest ever field experiment on the world's forests to measure carbon and the effects of climate change; and
• help to protect four of the world's major rivers - the Amazon, Ganges, Thames, and Yangtze - from the impacts of climate change, benefiting the 450 million people who rely on them.
Find out more about Earthwtch and the HSBC Climate Partnership.
This summer, Wytham Woods near Oxford will become the European hub of an ambitious global research programme into the impacts of climate change on forests.