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British scientists face a “huge hit” if the US cuts climate change research

In the media

UK scientists are warning they may be unable to carry out crucial research on climate change if Donald Trump cuts climate science funding in the US.

Professor Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, is quoted in The Guardian today (Tuesday 14 March), talking about the impact that US budget cuts on climate research, combined with Trump’s travel ban, are already having on scientific collaborations, hitting conference attendances and visiting speakers.

“Quite a lot of the academics we work with in America are immigrants and some of them are concerned about leaving the country in case they don’t get back in.”

He also expresses concern about data loss from the funding cuts to key organisations such as NASA and NOAA, which threatens to reduce their satellite monitoring capability.

“That could be really detrimental for the entire international science community. We urgently need these data sets to be able to monitor and understand climate change.”

Another Priestley Centre member, Research Fellow Dr Sarah Batterman, who has recently joined the University of Leeds from Princeton University, is also interviewed for the story.  Of her American counterparts, with whom she is in regular contact, she told The Guardian’s Anna Fazackerley: “The situation for people doing climate-related science in the US is really scary. There is so much uncertainty. I think people are trying to keep their heads down and keep their research going as much as they can until they see what is going to happen.”

A potential upside for UK climate research centres, such as the Priestley Centre,  is that US scientists may be more attracted to working in Britain – however, as Dr Batterman notes, the situation is unclear here, as well. “I think early career researchers who are looking for jobs may be considering options abroad. But there is also a lot of uncertainty in the UK too, because we don’t know what is going to happen with funding after the UK leaves the EU.”