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Oceans 2025 - harnessing marine research for the future

Oceans 2025 is a new research programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council to deliver key strategic scientific goals. It is Designed by and implemented through seven leading UK marine centres addressing at a national scale, the challenges of a changing marine environment.

We live on a rapidly changing planet. By 2025 - just one generation away - our activities are expected to have a major impact on our oceans, which could cause changes affecting millions of people across the world. For example, it is predicted that by 2025 our demand for natural resources will have increased by at least a third and sea levels will have risen by 10-15 cm. A forecast 30% decrease in Arctic sea-ice extent will radically change ecosystems and accelerate high latitude climate change.

Oceans 2025 will increase our understanding of the size, nature and impacts of these changes and address some of the most fundamental issues in marine science. The coordinated approach from the marine centres, with cooperation and input from other government agencies and departments, will improve our knowledge of how our seas behave and how they are changing, and what that might mean not just for our oceans, but for society. Oceans 2025 will be critical to developing sustainable solutions for the management of marine resources for future generations.

Oceans 2025 will receive approximately £120 million from NERC over 5 years. The strategic nature of the programme will enhance the research capabilities and facilities available for marine science and Oceans 2025’s new Strategic Ocean Funding Initiative opens up funds for universities and other partners to bid for.

Professor Sir Howard Dalton, Chief Scientific Advisor to Defra, Chair of the Inter-Agency Committee for Marine Science & Technology and NERC Council Member welcomes the new co-ordinated approach: "Through NERC bringing a huge swathe of strategic marine science into a single 'Oceans 2025' programme, and designing it with UK policy needs in mind, the UK is much better positioned to use ocean research findings to protect and sustainably manage and develop our seas. Government departments and agencies must rise to the challenge of working closely with Oceans 2025 as it evolves, to ensure that this tremendous opportunity is taken”.

In a collective statement, the Directors of the seven participating marine centres said, “Knowledge of the oceans is crucial to tackling some of society’s most pressing concerns including climate change, acidification of our seas, and the sustainable use of food and energy resources from the sea. Opening up unexplored areas of the deep ocean also holds many opportunities for the future. Tackling these challenges requires that we work together to bring all our skills and resources to bear. We believe that through Oceans 2025 the UK will be able to strengthen even further its very strong record in national and international collaboration in marine science”

Reaching agreement on a coordinated, co-operative research programme of the scale and complexity of Oceans 2025 is a very important step. It develops the cross disciplinary partnership required to study and find solutions to the very practical and pressing issues of oceanic change.

Marion O'Sullivan | alfa
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