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NOC leads marine community towards zero-carbon future

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15 September 2020

An ambitious scoping project, led by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), has launched today to investigate how to move towards low or zero-carbon oceanographic research. The aim of the NZOC (Net Zero Oceanographic Capability) project (NE/V013068/1) is to bring together the marine science community and key stakeholders to consider how NERC can maintain and enhance its research infrastructure in the future whilst adhering to the UKRI’s objective of becoming a ‘net-zero’ organisation by 2040. 

Leigh Storey, NOC Associate Director National Marine Facilities and NZOC Principal Investigator commented, "The replacement of a modern research ship is normally a decade-long process. However, the advances in technology are opening up opportunities which require a genuinely strategic view to be taken regards the UK’s next generation of oceanographic research infrastructure. The 20th century paradigm must give way to a low-carbon system and that shift must consider the science and policy needs alongside the technological opportunities.” 

NZOC will run for approximately one year and include six work packages, investigating: 

  • Future science need (led by Dr Kate Hendry, University of Bristol),  

  • Policy & regulation (led by Professor Steve Fletcher, University of Portsmouth),  

  • Future ship technology (led by Colin Day, NOC),  

  • Marine Autonomous Systems (led by Dr Maaten Furlong, NOC),  

  • Future sensor systems & networks (led by Professor Matt Mowlem, NOC), and  

  • Data ecosystems (led by Dr John Siddorn, Met Office).  

  • Dr. Peter Collinson (independent) will work with the leadership team to provide an industry perspective. 

The project leadership seeks participation from the global academic and maritime community to ensure our collective impact on the ocean and wider environment is a positive one, thus supporting a sustainable ocean for all.  

The initial focus of the project will be on engaging as widely as possible through surveys and virtual workshops. More information about the project aims, deliverables, workshops, as well as how to get involved, can be found on the project site here


The work streams will inform a detailed report to NERC/UKRI as well as a public-facing report to be presented at an event at the end of the project. 

The project will undertake equality impact assessments to ensure we have understood the impact of the proposed solutions and can make recommendations to NERC on how to increase access and inclusivity. Ways of working will be utilised which remove the requirement for travel. 

The NOC is uniquely placed to lead this collaboration as core National Capability long-term science is the foundation of our research base and our mission is a sustainable ocean for all. To enable this we operate and manage, on behalf of NERC/UKRI, large-scale facilities and capabilities for use by the UK's marine science community and international partners. This includes the Royal Research Ships RRS James Cook and RRS Discovery, the National Marine Equipment Pool, the infrastructure (including workshops, laboratories, testing facilities and warehouses) and the mariners, technicians, engineers, project managers, logisticians and operation's managers that deliver the NERC/UKRI Marine Facilities Programme.