The University of East Anglia is launching a project to predict how the Arctic will cope with global warming by constructing a sea ice chamber and using state-of-the-art computer models.
The €2M research initiative will reproduce the chemical exchanges between the ocean, sea ice, snow and the atmosphere in polar regions.
Funding for the five-year project, agreed today, comes from the European Research Council (ERC).
Lead researcher Prof Roland von Glasow from UEA's Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the School of Environmental Sciences, said: "The Arctic Ocean is a vast expanse of sea ice. Most of it is covered with snow for about half of the year, but climate change has caused temperatures to rise more than anywhere else in the world over the last few decades. 2012 saw record lows of snow and sea ice. Global environmental change of this nature is one of the greatest challenges facing society.
"We will focus on the links between melting sea ice and snow, and the changing chemistry of the troposphere - the lowest 10km of atmosphere. This is important because the troposphere is home to concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosol particles which play key roles for our climate.
"By constructing a unique sea ice chamber in the laboratory we will be able to understand more about the chemical exchanges taking place. This will eventually allow us to make better predictions about the effect of global warming on both the Arctic and the rest of the world."
Measuring two meters cubed, the new ice chamber will be held in a specially constructed cold room at UEA.
The European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organisation for frontier research. It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers. More than 3,600 research proposals were submitted for funding and the overall success rate for funding is 8.5 per cent.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "These researchers are doing ground-breaking work that will advance our knowledge and make a difference to society."