The £3 million research hub, the result of joint investment from the Natural Environment Research Council, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Cranfield, provides a collaborative space for advanced research.
It will also house Cranfield’s Centre for Atmospheric Informatics and Emissions Technology and the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements.
Mr Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: "Climate change and reducing emissions is one of the most important challenges of our time, and the UK takes a proud leadership role in fostering positive action.
"Greater knowledge and the development of new technologies is crucial to this. This investment is a prime example of the projects our industrial strategy will support, enabling UK scientists to carry out pioneering work that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of climate change science and leads an international effort to improve the environment for future generations."
NERC investment has ensured this will be a centre of international excellence which will allow both Cranfield and FAAM to collaborate. NCAS’s involvement highlights the significance for the UK of atmospheric science, with Met Office scientists also based at Cranfield.
University chief executive and vice-chancellor Sir Peter Gregson said: “The centre is the latest in a series of world-class facilities on campus, and is the result of multi-agency collaboration. The centre heralds a new era in climate and atmospheric understanding.”
CAIET will research air quality, climate change and ozone depletion. Currently, Cranfield’s CAIET technology is being used in circumnavigating the South Pole on a multinational, multi-disciplinary research voyage to understand one of the key issues in climate science – the effect of aerosols on the radiative properties of clouds.
NERC chief executive Professor Duncan Wingham said: “This collaboration builds on NERC’s existing investments in the national capability provided by NCAS and the unique airborne laboratory FAAM, aiming to advance our understanding of how emissions contribute to impacts on our planet and its inhabitants, be these air pollution, climate change or ozone depletion.
“I look forward to seeing this exciting endeavour develop in the years to come."
The minister also toured the university’s newly completed nine-metre tall glasshouse, which offers year-round pilot-scale experiments on crop growth and development under different soil conditions.
The glasshouse will be used in collaboration with research partners. It supports the government’s agri-tech strategy to help develop advanced technologies that will increase productivity and sustainability in supporting the UK to become a world leader in agriculture expertise.