Dr Ailsa Benton

Air Quality Science Policy Advisor at Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Air Quality Science Policy Advisor, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dr Ailsa Benton is a climate scientist with experience in the fields of atmospheric chemistry, paleoclimate records of ice cores and geoengineering. She is an Air Quality Science Policy Advisor at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She has previously been an Ice Core Analytical Scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, which included a secondment to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, advising on the science of geoengineering and adaptation to climate change. Here, she provides scientific advice and input to research programmes on developing carbon dioxide removal technologies, supporting IPCC authors and convening DECC’s actions in the National Adaptation programme.

Ailsa regularly engages in climate science discussions with both ministers and the public, appearing on BBC Newsnight and in technical seminars. She lectures and mentors at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Earth Systems Science postgraduate schools on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council.

At the British Antarctic Survey she developed the continuous flow analysis (CFA) system for revealing information about the environmental conditions of the past. She has led Antarctic field work to drill new ice cores and uses new analytical methods to improve our understanding of ice core dating, weather patterns, climatic change and pollution events. Some of her recent research focuses on warming records in and around the Antarctic Peninsula; and the development of analytical techniques for tracing organic markers of biomass burning, for which she was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Venice, Italy.

It was at the University of Cambridge where Ailsa developed her analytical development techniques, gaining her PhD in 2011 at the Department of Chemistry on the composition of both urban and marine atmospheres. She maintains strong collaborations with the University in supervising a joint Doctoral Training Partnership project and a grant for innovation.