NOC to play key role in major European marine science project

National Oceanography Centre

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is to play a leading role in the largest marine science project that the European Commission has ever funded.

The €20 million AtlantOS project, due to start in January 2015, will bring together a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines from over 60 research organisations across the world in order to enhance the efficiency of ocean observation procedures.

By fundamentally restructuring and integrating the existing, loosely-coordinated Atlantic ocean monitoring activities, as well as filling in the gaps, the multi-disciplinary AtlantOS project will result in more efficient, more complete and lower cost information delivery. The result is expected to have benefits ranging from improved safety planning for coastal communities in the event of oil spills, to better implementation of marine policies and more accurate weather forecasting for offshore energy.

Dr Doug Connelly from NOC, who played a key role in securing funding for AtlantOS, said “What is really exciting about this project is that it brings together so many different scientific disciplines in a single project in a way that has never been done before. With contributions from biogeochemistry, physics, biology, technology, ocean observation and modelling, this will be a truly multi-disciplinary project.”

AtlantOS will improve the readiness of existing ocean observing networks and data systems, as well as strengthening Europe’s contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System. Within this project, NOC will be playing the integral role of linking coastal and offshore systems through sea level work and coastal biogeochemical projects, as well as coordinating field observations, creating products to aid weather prediction and leading the development of new observation technologies, techniques and systems to deliver data on all priority parameters.

Dr Matt Mowlem, who leads technology developments in NOC and AtlantOS, said “In addition to integrating observational efforts and best practice internationally, AtlantOS will support the development of technologies and techniques. It will also address the current lack of data for chemical and biological process in ocean observing, which should enable a step-change in our ability to understand and manage this unique environment.”

Professor Ian Wright, who is the Director of Science and Technology at NOC, observed that this type of project “is central to the NOC’s ambitions in developing in situ and persistent observing of multiple ocean parameters within a context of working with strong European partners.”

The AtlantOS project has received funding from the European Commission through the first ‘Blue growth’ Horizon2020 call, which aims to promote growth in the ocean economy through innovation and the improved sharing of data. The project, led by Professor Dr Martin Visbeck (GEOMAR) will last 51 months.