Central Otago scientists’ work gets boost from MBIE fund

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Central Otago scientists will be part of new projects to understand climate change and the environment.

Alexandra-based Bodeker Scientific and Xerra (formerly the Centre for Space Science Technology) are both recipients of grants from this year’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour Fund.

Bodeker Scientific will contribute to a database to help understand weather-related natural disasters.

It is part of a consortium led by Victoria University that has been granted $10,273,285 for a five-year project on extreme events and the emergence of climate change.

Dr Greg Bodeker said the project would build on the success of his company’s $1 million project from last year’s Endeavour Fund – a tool called Extreme Weather Event Real-time Attribution Machine (Eweram).

“Off the back of that we’ve built this much bigger programme to take a much more holistic look at extreme weather events.”

Xerra is contributing to a $1million project to help develop new 3-D-change maps of New Zealand.

Principal scientist Dr Dave Kelbe will work on the project, which will be led by the University of Otago, with GNS Science, Land Information New Zealand and Meridian Energy.

The project team’s vision was to “develop a novel way to make 3-D-change maps with unprecedented detail and sub-metre accuracy, and then make those maps available to end-users through a web-based service, to ensure that communities are resilient to geohazards”, he said.

Xerra is also part of a $13.7million research programme called Forest Flows.

The aim of the project is to develop a fast and accurate way to measure how much water evaporates from or flows through planted forests.

The programme is led by Scion and includes the universities of Auckland and Waikato, Niwa and international institutions.

Xerra chief executive Steve Cotter said their scientists would provide remote sensing measurements and data science expertise to help develop 3-D spatial water quantity and quality models.

“I’m looking forward to seeing these new collaborative projects deliver the positive impact that we know space-based data and artificial intelligence can achieve.”