The Bloodhound Award for Outstanding Breakthrough in Research

WINNER

Prof. Peter North, Dr Sietse Los (Reader), and PDRAs Dr Jackie Rosette and Andreas Heckel. Geography, College of Science

“Using land-surface satellite data to improve weather forecasts and climate predictions”

Peter North

Researchers at the Global Environmental Modelling and Earth Observation (GEMEO) group at Swansea University have used satellite data to improve weather forecasts and climate predictions. Swansea University has worked directly with two leading meteorological agencies — the UK Met Office and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) — to refine the way in which land is represented in their numerical weather prediction models.

Improved weather forecasting is of clear benefit to society, facilitating day-to-day planning by the public, agriculture, commerce, utility suppliers and transport sectors, as well as preparation for extreme weather events such as floods, heat waves and droughts.

The ECMWF reports improvement of precipitation forecast, increasing predicted summer rainfall by 7%, and its variability, which is relevant to flood and drought forecast, increased by 30%.

GEMEO’s most recent finding on vegetation seasonal cycles was published in Nature (2014), contradicting the widely held theory that Amazon rainforest has become more photosynthetically active during seasonal dry periods. This has implications for modelling the response of tropical forests to climate change, and in estimating of future atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Judges’ comments:

“Vast impact- covering many industries, general public, aviation, farming, etc etc - there is demonstrated impact on every European weather forecast that is produced. The actual changes in forecasting are evidenced. Very well evidenced - almost exemplary!”

“The research clearly has improved weather prediction models, having a major impact in society, governments and the environment”.

“The work outlined in this application has global reach and its impact is already being demonstrated by collaborations with international weather prediction organisations.  The improvement in ability to accurately predict weather phenomenon has the potential to impact everyone”.

RUNNERS UP

Photovoltaics Research, Prof Dave Worsley, Dr Trystan Watson. SPECIFIC, College of Engineering             

“Manufacturing high performance solution processed photovoltaics”

Dave Worsley

Since being set up in 2011, PV@SPECIFIC has delivered technology developments that can enable the manufacture of low-cost-flexible photovoltaic devices that can compete with conventional silicon solar panels. Most notable is a technology solution for a flexible transparent laminate giving rise to a 16% efficiency which is close to the current world record (16.6%).

Existing photovoltaics are either manufactured over a long time frame or using complex multilayer systems leading to higher costs and subsequently lower technology adoption. The SPECIFIC team has set out to tackle these issues head on to create an inexpensive, ambient printable photovoltaic device that can be integrated directly into the fabric of the building at large scale. Success has led to new grant awards and growth areas (SUPER (£2m), PVTEAM (£2.4m), PVSTEEL (£0.5m) and Sêr Solar (£6.6m).

Judges’ comments:

“The research appears to be moving from the initial developments to the actual production that will benefit mainly the society and the environment. There is a huge potential; the developed research is competing with world leading researchers and the team is leading the global field in their approach to solar power generation substantial funding has been attracted”.

 

Dr Ilyas Khan & Dr Lewis Francis. Centre for NanoHealth, College of Medicine    

“Can we heal osteoarthritic joints? A collaborative approach for solutions to a longstanding problem”

Ilyas Khan

Osteoarthritis is a global health problem that remains resistant to human intervention. It is the progressive loss of joint function, through erosion of cartilage, resulting in immobility due to the great pain caused by movement. The challenge is to understand how the disease progresses and to use this knowledge to devise new and more effective means to tackle disease and restore movement to affected joints. The research, conducted at the Centre of Nanohealth, uncovered a new mechanism that explains why disease persists in joints and also describes how to repair and regenerate damaged cartilage.  In 2011 a landmark scientific paper was published describing the role of two growth factors that work together to cause cartilage to mature. The remarkable thing about these factors is that they are able to accelerate the process of cartilage maturation by over 15 times compared to normal. In 2013 a second paper demonstrated unequivocally that these two factors can not only engineer stiff cartilage to help people with little or no cartilage but also have the potential to reverse the disease condition.

Judges’ comments:

“Quite simply, the potential for this research is immense and the team is to be commended for its work.”