New national centre for coastal and deep sea oceanography

The NOC aims to be recognised as the world’s leading institution for integrated marine science and technology

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), based at the University of Liverpool, will form part of a new national research organisation that will work in partnership with the UK marine research community to deliver integrated marine science and technology from the coast to the deep ocean.

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) will be formed on 1 April by bringing together POL in Liverpool and NERC-managed activity at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) into a single institution. The NOC will work in close partnership with the wider marine science community to create the integrated research capability needed to tackle the big environmental issues facing the world.  Research priorities will include the oceans’ role in climate change, sea level change and the future of the Arctic Ocean.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jon Saunders, said: “The University works closely with the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in areas such as climate change research, sea level science and marine renewable energy. The development of the new National Oceanography Centre offers opportunities for even greater collaboration and will consolidate Liverpool’s reputation as a world-leading centre for the study of marine science.”

A major element of the new approach will see the designation of a set of Partners of the NOC – comprising research institutes and key university groups – working collaboratively to support world-class strategic research, technology development and training the scientists of the future. Together with a wider group of Associates, these organisations will form the NOC Association, sharing in the delivery of a community developed strategy for marine science.

The NOC will have a key role in providing national capability to meet the needs of the whole UK marine research community including Royal Research Ships, deep submersibles and advanced ocean technologies. It will also be home to the global mean sea level data archive, the UK’s sea level monitoring system for flood warning and climate change, the national archive of subsea sediment cores and the British Oceanographic Data Centre.

The new approach benefits from greater coordination in research developed by the marine community over the past decade, with strong investment from the NERC.  For example, the close relationship between the University of Southampton and the NERC has led to NOCS being recognised as one of the world’s leading oceanographic institutions. NERC investment and the development of close links with the University of Liverpool have helped create a world-class research centre at the POL.  In future, the University of Southampton and the University of Liverpool will be hosting partners of the National Oceanography Centre.

Working with other NERC-funded marine centres in Plymouth and Scotland, the Oceans 2025 programme is delivering a major stream of strategic research and the marine community is now highly successful at winning consortium grant funding.  NERC with the marine research community has also been working closely with Government departments and the Devolved Administrations most recently through the Marine Science Co-ordination Committee, in the development of its soon to be published strategy which calls for more effective approaches to prioritisation, coordination and delivery of marine science.

Building on this excellence, the vision for the NOC, in collaboration with its partners, is that by 2015 it will be recognised as the world’s leading institution for integrated marine science and technology, able to influence the European and global strategic research agendas.

Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, Professor Alan Thorpe, said: “The need to grow our understanding of the crucial role the oceans play in the whole Earth system has never been greater.  Their contribution to climate variability and change, their huge biodiversity and their capacity to offer solutions to ever more pressing human concerns, requires the integrated approach to ocean sciences that the National Oceanography Centre will enable.

“The excellent interdisciplinary research we will be able to deliver will consolidate the UK’s position as a world-leader in marine science and increase the impact of our research in  addressing issues of energy and food security, the discovery of new materials and medicines, and the need to manage marine space more effectively and protect vulnerable coastal communities.”

Notes to editors:

1.  The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £98 million annually.

2. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funds world-class science, in universities and its own research centres, that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It is tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. NERC receives around £400 million a year from the government’s science budget, which is used to provide independent research and training in the environmental sciences.


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