Managed by the Smith Institute, NERC’s £7m Probability, Uncertainty & Risk in the Environment (PURE) Research Programme and Network was established in 2012 and designed to help the UK government and industries as diverse as finance, energy and aviation, to be better prepared for natural hazards.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the leading funder of independent research, training and innovation in environmental science in the UK. It invests public money into world-leading science to specifically help sustain natural resources, predict and respond to natural hazards, and understand environmental change. Working closely with academics, policy makers, businesses and the third sector, NERC supports knowledge transfer for sustainable economic growth and wellbeing in the UK and around the world.

Since the 1970’s, the number of major disasters resulting from natural hazards has risen and is still increasing. From floods and ash clouds, to droughts and earthquakes, natural hazard events claim thousands of lives every year with financial losses amounting to billions of dollars. While events such as these are often confined to hazard prone areas of the world, the UK is not immune to the impacts of natural hazard events.

The PURE Network ran for five years and within that time, the Smith Institute organised 26 events, established 24 collaborative projects and created a network of over 1,000 people, including representatives from more than 100 companies and government departments.

PURE has provided a great opportunity to combine expertise in different aspects of environmental physics with expertise in statistics. From our point of view the combining of understanding of atmospheric physics, volcanology, satellite retrieval algorithms and statistical emulators has been particularly valuable in making progress on the problem of volcanic ash prediction.

Met Office

Having seen the immediate aftermath of devastating earthquakes, it is clear that we do not know enough about the pattern of aftershocks and the risks they pose to vulnerable communities. This [PURE Associate] project, for the first time, gives us a tool that will help us make decisions about how and where to programme our responses.

Concern Worldwide