NCAS currently has over 130 members of staff working across the UK dedicated to research programmes in climate change science, atmospheric composition, weather and state-of-the-art technologies for observing and modelling the atmosphere.
NCAS is a distributed centre. Being "distributed" means that the 130 NCAS staff are not based in one building. Instead they work in, and are employed by, 19 different organisations across the UK. These include 15 universities, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the European centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts and NERC itself.
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The research and support programmes of NCAS are structured and managed within three science directorates and two technology divisions (comprising four services and facilities). Each of the seven units has a director or head of operations assigned to it, who is an eminent scientist with an international reputation in their field or a leader in their technological field.
The directors and heads of facilities are managed by the director of NCAS, who has overall responsibility for NCAS. The director of NCAS reports directly to the Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council.
The role of the NCAS Operational Team is to provide a support role to the organisation and to implement policies developed by the Executive Committee and the Research Forum.
The Centre for Environmental Data Analysis is based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and is one of the Natural Environment Research Council's designated data centres. Observational and model data are managed and curated by CEDA for and on behalf of the community. CEDA is at the forefront of e-Science developments in this area being the leader of the NERC DataGrid project. These data include: observations obtained during field campaigns, operational meteorological observations, numerical model output, Earth observations and re-analysis data.
The NCAS Climate directorate is mainly composed of a group at the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading and the NCAS Atmospheric Chemistry Modelling Support Unit external link (ACMSU) at the University of Cambridge. These groups specialise in research on climate variability and global chemistry-climate modelling respectively.
The Computational Modelling Support unit provides information services and support for modelling in the NCAS community particularly High Performance Computing.
The NCAS Atmospheric Composition directorate carries out research to understand how atmospheric composition is changing and its effect on the Earth System. It is distributed across several UK universities. Composition activities involve: coordinating and undertaking field experiments making use of expertise throughout the community; developing and implementing ideas for new instruments for laboratory, field and earth observation measurements; developing a modelling capability for field applications, using links with the NCAS-Climate directorate and the NCAS-Weather directorate; determining the rates and mechanisms of key chemical processes occurring in the gas and aerosol/droplet phases in the atmosphere; undertaking long-term monitoring of atmospheric composition and its changes.
The Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements operates a BAe 146 research aircraft from Cranfield University in partnership with the Met Office. FAAM has a set of core meteorological instruments and scientists can deploy a range of specialized instruments on board the aircraft during campaigns. These instruments can measure a wide range of physical and compositional characteristics of the atmosphere.
The Atmospheric Measurements Facility supports a set of specialised atmospheric measurement instruments for use from the ground . These instruments are distributed in university centres of expertise and are developed and supported by instrument scientists who are experts in the various types of measurement techniques. These instruments are used by the community in research field campaigns.
The NCAS Atmospheric Physics directorate conducts research on dynamical and physical processes in the atmosphere on the local and regional scale. This involves atmospheric flows ranging from fine scale turbulence up to mesoscale weather systems. The work is organised in two broad themes: urban meteorology, pollution transport and air quality; and convective processes and severe weather.