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TerraFIRMA: Future Impacts, Risks and Mitigation Actions in a changing Earth system

Silhoutte of fisherman in small boat with islands in the background

Active project

Project start: April 2022  |  Project end: March 2027
Funder: UKRI NERC National Capability Science Multi-Centre
Principal Investigator: Jerry Blackford
Other participants from PML: Yuri Artioli, Lee de Mora, Robert Wilson, Gennadi Lessin

Global climate change is the leading environmental challenge facing humanity today. Reliable guidance on the risks and impacts of future climate change, and clear assessment of mitigation options for limiting future change, are urgently required.

Through the TerraFIRMA programme we will deliver:

  • novel future climate projections, investigating the risks and impacts associated with overshooting key global warming targets and the reversibility of any triggered changes and impacts.
  • an assessment of the leading mitigation options available to limit future climate change, while considering other policy goals such as air quality, human health and food security.

TerraFIRMA is one of six new projects funded from a £47 million investment by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), as part of their National Capability Multi-Centre Science programme. TerraFIRMA is led by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, in collaboration with several NERC-supported research centres, including: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, National Centre for Earth Observation, National Oceanography Centre, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The Met Office Hadley Centre also plays a key role in the TerraFIRMA collaboration. TerraFIRMA formally started on April 1st 2022 and will run for five years.

TerraFIRMA will use new simulations made with whole earth system and ocean only models that overshoot key global warming targets, such as 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial values, before returning to these targets at some future date. We will investigate the risk of abrupt and potentially irreversible changes in the Earth system as a result of such warming overshoots and also analyse a range of societal impacts, contrasting these with impacts arising if the Earth did not overshoot these targets and rather stabilized at, or just below them, long-term.

PMLs role will focus on global shelf seas, firstly trying to improve the skill of the various model systems and then deliver better estimates of the coastal oceans ability to uptake (mitigate) carbon dioxide and forecasts of ocean productivity, including fisheries for various scenarios.


Decision-makers in government and the private sector are increasingly required to focus their attention on climate change mitigation options, and TerraFIRMA aims to provide advice on the most optimal actions.

Mitigation actions either reduce the rate of climate change by limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions, or by enhancing activities that remove these gases from the atmosphere.

The TerraFIRMA programme will examine a range of climate mitigation strategies, from afforestation and rewilding, to cutting methane emissions and other pathways to net zero (not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere).