2020/21 – Global Impact of UK Science

National Oceanography Centre [logo]



Global Impact
of UK Science

We began 2021 with much celebration when the impact of our publicly funded work was independently evaluated as excellent across the three areas assessed. I was proud and delighted to hear the NOC hailed as ‘making a vital contribution to the UK’s leading position in environmental science’.

As well as demonstrating our expertise in ocean research, the evaluation also shows the NOC provides a great environment for scientists, engineers and innovators to thrive, delivering positive societal impact. Our ambition in 2022 is to continue to grow from this solid foundation and expand our endeavour to provide public benefit in all we do.

Outstanding examples of this scientific excellence in 2021 include our Exports programme, a global research project with two other world-leading organisations – NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Using the RRS Discovery and underwater gliders, our scientists and engineers took vital ocean measurements of the changing Atlantic Ocean to understand how it will evolve as a result of climate change and human exploitation. This is a great example of how global collaboration can truly inform international policy and ocean literacy.

Our activities and influence around national and international policy included a successful contribution to the G7 Decade Navigation Plan, shaping UK co-ordination for the UN Ocean Decade, engaging in discussions at COP26, and supporting marine science collaboration within the UK.

We have started to build strong partnerships with industry and donors and would like to thank ‘10% for the Ocean’ for their donation and support this year, and also West P&I whose support has allowed us to widen participation in pioneering oceanography to young researchers across the world. These illustrate how, as a newly independent charity that benefits from a stable environment and long-term strategy, we can now develop philanthropic partnerships to expand our work in new ways.

Thank you to our Board and every team at the NOC. Together we have continued to lead in ocean science and innovation, in spite of many challenges. Next year promises to be an exciting one for us, with COP26 having amplified our voice and accelerated global awareness of the ocean’s role in managing our climate.

Professor Ed Hill CBE
Chief Executive

Directors [photos]

Professor Ed Hill CBE, Chief Executive

Professor Angela Hatton, Chief Scientist

Julie Pringle-Stewart, Chief Operating Officer


  • Every day, NOC staff bring our charitable purpose and shared values to life. Here are just a few examples of their outstanding commitment and hard work.

    Birthday Honours

    Our Chief Executive, Professor Ed Hill, was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020 list in recognition of his services to ocean and environmental sciences. Ed is a world-leading authority on ocean science and is dedicated to raising awareness of ocean issues and advancing the science and technology to understand our seas. Having been part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for over 20 years, he led us into becoming an independent charity, using our new freedom and scientific expertise to drive forward greater innovation and influence.

    World-leading Expertise

    NOC scientists Professor Stephanie Henson and Dr Catia Domingues were lead authors on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6), which assesses the physical science basis of climate change, providing the latest assessment of scientific knowledge about the warming of the planet, the impacts on climate systems and projections for future warming.

  • Community Recognition

    At the 2021 European Geosciences Union Assembly, NOC scientists, Dr Marilena Oltmanns and Professor Richard Lampitt, received awards for their ground-breaking work. Richard was presented with the ‘Fridtjof Nansen Medal’, established by the Ocean Sciences division of the conference, which is awarded for distinguished research in oceanography. Marilena received the ‘Ocean Sciences Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award’ which recognises scientific achievement made by an Early Career Scientist in the division related to ocean sciences.

    Oustanding Observations

    The Oceanography Society (TOS) has named several collaborative multi-disciplinary teams who make critical Atlantic climate observations as the inaugural recipients of the TOS Ocean Observing Team Award. This award recognises innovation and excellence in sustained ocean observing for scientific and practical applications. The citation on the team’s certificate recognises them for transforming our understanding of Atlantic circulation with a breakthrough in observing system design providing continuous, cost-effective measurements.The Selection Committee noted that this international team, which we are part of, has sustained a core array of moorings across the Atlantic at 26°N for more than 16 years, monitoring changes in the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.

Our Impact 2020/21