Prospectus addresses most pressing marine science questions

A prospectus for UK marine science (courtesy of Andrew Coward, National Oceanography Centre)

The most pressing issues that UK marine science needs to address over the next two decades are the subject of a prospectus published as a themed issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A last month. The volume is co-edited and carries contributions by scientists based at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS).

Human-induced changes in ocean processes are already being observed, and are projected to intensify as demand for the ocean’s resources continues to increase. The prospectus, introduced as ‘A strategy for UK marine science for the next 20 years’, is a collection of papers written primarily by young to mid-career scientists in the fields of physical oceanography, ocean–ice sheet interactions, palaeoceanography, marine geoscience, biogeochemistry, biological oceanography, climate modelling and marine policy. This horizon-scanning exercise, driven by the Challenger Society for Marine Sciences and the UK Scientific Committee for Oceanic Research, is part of a wider plan to set out new initiatives for a marine science strategy in each of these research areas.

The authors provide a vision for their respective research areas, addressing the following questions:

  • What will my area of marine science be like in 20 years’ time?
  • What will be the role of UK marine science in international science over that period?
  • What are the scientific challenges?
  • What technological advances are necessary to meet the challenges?

“The UK marine science strategy should be reviewed every two to four years by young to mid-career scientists,” said Professor Harry Bryden FRS, who co-edited the volume. “This is essential to maintain the health of UK marine science.”

The prospectus will also complement the marine research community vision and priorities document ‘Setting Course’, which was published and developed in 2011 by the National Oceanography Centre Association, by providing a more detailed, peer reviewed, scientific perspective on each of the research areas.

The themed issue ‘Prospectus for UK marine science’ was compiled and edited by Professors Harry L Bryden FRS and Gwyn Griffiths of NOCS, and Dr Carol Robinson of the University of East Anglia. Contributing authors include Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato of University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science, which is based at NOCS.

Publication of this prospectus was made possible with support from: the Royal Society’s Global Environment Research Committee; national centres (National Oceanography Centre and British Antarctic Survey); and marine industries (Planet Ocean, Horiba, Ocean Optics, RBR, Valeport, Ocean Scientific International and RS Aqua).

Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, December 13, 2012; 370 (1980). Published online before print