Integrated Land-Ecosystem Atmosphere Process Study (iLEAPS)

Lead Research Organisation: UK Ctr for Ecology & Hydrology fr 011219
Department Name: Hydro-climate Risks


Future Earth is a major global research programme, which evolved from previous international programmes on human development, climate change, global environmental change and biodiversity. The integrated Land Ecosystem Atmosphere Process Study (iLEAPS) is a core project of Future Earth.

As humans are now one of the strongest influences on climate and the environment, this second phase of iLEAPS (2014- 2024) is moving from research on natural pristine environments to investigating the interactions between natural and human environments. The project will also investigate the complex set of interactions that exist between the climate system, atmospheric composition/air quality, land use and land cover changes, socioeconomic development, and human decision-making. The research will provide information of relevance to the 8 key focal challenges identified by Future Earth in its 2014 Strategic Research Agenda:
1. Deliver water, energy and food for all.
2. Decarbonize socio-economic systems to stabilize the climate
3. Safeguard the terrestrial, freshwater and marine natural assets
4. Build healthy, resilient and productive cities
5. Promote sustainable rural futures to feed rising and more affluent populations
6. Improve human health through the improvement of human-environment interactions
7. Encourage sustainable and equitable consumption and production patterns
8. Increase social resilience to future threats

iLEAPS acts as a communication hub and coordinator of world-wide scientific research in the field of ecosystem-atmosphere exchanges and the impact of those exchanges on the 8 societal challenges.

iLEAPS promotes scientific excellence through developing international science initiatives that are multi-disciplinary, through bringing together the modelling community with satellite, experimental and field observational experts and through enabling communication and networking across the international science community.

iLEAPS promotes leadership in science through capacity building in developing countries and support to young or Early Career scientists by hosting workshops, ensuring timely and relevant science to be available through their website and through training programmes.

The NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is taking over the iLEAPS International Project Office during 2016. CEH will undertake the activities below to enhance the impact of the iLEAPS project:

1 .IPO Operation and Co-ordination Activities
* Work with the iLEAPS Scientific Steering Committee to deliver the iLEAPS Science Plan and Priority Research Topics
* Maintain and enhance connections with relevant international projects, regional and national iLEAPS offices, providing advocacy and enlisting wide international participation
* Promote capacity building through support of the Early Career Scientist network and supporting workshops and regional networks in the developing world
* Work with Future Earth through national and international committees to deliver their vision
* Secure additional funding to support these activities

2. Communication
* Maintain and co-ordinate input to the iLEAPS website
* Host, support and fund workshops and conferences

3. Science leadership
* Start new, and maintain existing, Science Initiatives and Projects

4. Science Products
* Generate integrated products for the world-wide community
* Create new analysis tools for analysing data from experimental and field observations, satellites and computer models

Planned Impact

1. Policy makers

As climate change, population and pollution puts pressure on resources, policies on environmental issues are increasingly having an impact on development and economic progress. Further, there is a growing recognition for human life to be healthy and not adversely affected by for example agriculture, industry, transport and infrastructure.

It is essential that scientific research provides the evidence relevant for these issues (health, resources, biodiversity and climate change) and this is made most effectively at an international level. The iLEAPS IPO ensures good networking across scientists across all continents. This enables excellent science to be shared as quickly as possible, with a consistent framework for dialogue with local, regional and international policy makers world-wide.

The timescale of the benefit is in the medium term. Policy makers require robust evidence before making their decisions, and the iLEAPS IPO role is only indirect by increasing the robustness of the evidence.

2. Public.

The science represented by iLEAPS is relevant and important to many individuals who don't normally see themselves as 'scientists'. For instance, significant coverage is given in the media on local issues about farming practices and air quality to more remote questions about the vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic to changes in the climate. In addition, policies that affect these issues are made by democratically elected representatives in governments and inter-governmental agencies across the world. The tension between economic advancement and environmental protection is now being debated at all levels of society.

An increased understanding and trust by the public of the science behind the headlines would benefit the effectiveness of public services and policy by increasing the level of rationality when voting on these crucial decisions.

The timescale of the benefits range from a few years (if people had more information about the science behind certain policies then they might vote in a certain way) to very long (by encouraging science to be part of our culture and way of life rather than just for 'scientists', then society may evolve to be more informed on these major societal challenges).

3. Researchers in Developing Countries

It is increasingly possible to share the scientific resources available in the developed world with a wider network of scientists throughout the world, including developing countries. The internet, the availability of free global datasets, the use of 'Big Data' and massive computers on the cloud enables everyone access to a huge resource.

If students and researchers at universities around the world are enabled to use these resources, their ability to define and control their own research agenda would be enhanced. The scientists would be able to join the international debate on important science issues, thus potentially reducing the brain-drain effect of well-educated, influential scientists leaving the developing countries.

The iLEAPS IPO would enable this networking and information flow. This benefit could be realised in the short term, by increasing the communication and networking with the relevant universities and schools.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/P008615/1 09/01/2017 30/11/2019 £254,063
NE/P008615/2 Transfer NE/P008615/1 01/12/2019 29/06/2021 £21,343
Description Please copy from previous award
Exploitation Route Please copy from previous award
Sectors Environment

Description ilEAPS IPO Support
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 03/2024
Description ILEAPS Lite Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact During March 2021, iLEAPS hosted a series of four webinars to engage our research network as we reschedule our Open Science Meeting in New Zealand to take place in Spring 2022. The research webinars covered the topics: (1) air quality-climate interactions in South Asia; (2) microbial soil ecology and the carbon cycle; (3) semi-arid land-atmosphere interactions; and (4) how COVID-19 has indirectly affected forest ecosystem services. The webinars provided an opportunity for early-career scientists to engage with a panel of experts from around the globe, with sessions coordinated by iLEAPS steering committee members from Italy, China, New Zealand, and India. Each session had 4-5 short talks, followed by time for discussion and interaction with the panel. The Youtube link to the recordings of the meeting sessions are below:

All times provided in the schedule are in UTC

Tuesday 16th March 1.30-16.00
Land Atmosphere Interactions and Impacts on Climate, Air Quality and Ecosystems over South Asia

Thursday 18th March - 13.00-15.00
The role of soil and microorganisms in affecting the global carbon and water cycles

Tuesday 23rd March - 08.30 - 10.50
Land-Atmosphere Interactions in Arid & Semi-arid Environments

Thursday 25th March - 13.00 - 15.00
Urban Forests provide Ecosystem Services in times of COVID-19
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021