NOC Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre

Abstract

Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems Programme is a multidisciplinary programme, studying ocean physics, chemistry and biology using leading modelling and instrumentation techniques to understand ocean biogeochemistry and biodiversity. Much of the research is motivated by the magnitude of the biological carbon pump (BCP), the biological mechanism by which carbon is stored in the oceans interior.

Publications

10 25 50

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Alcántara-Ayala I (2021) Reflections on Earth surface research in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment

 
Description As an example of the impact of the research group. We have focussed on a key area of research to provide this context. The group also has significant impact in the area of climate change and the move to net zero greenhouse gasses. Habitat mapping and monitoring, MPAs & policy advice The human footprint in the marine environment is ever increasing, as we look towards the oceans for solutions to onshore problems. Simultaneously, awareness of the value and vulnerability of the marine environment is growing. To achieve responsible spatial management, policy-makers need robust evidence of biodiversity and human impacts, as well as cost-effective methods to monitor the marine environment. Research into seafloor biodiversity and the development of novel habitat mapping approaches at NOC provides governments, industry, trans-national bodies and coastal communities worldwide with essential knowledge, independent advice and state-of-the-art tools to understand and monitor their seabed environment, and to design appropriate management and conservation strategies. Development of robust and cost-effective approaches for habitat mapping The marine realm is vast, covering ~70% of the planet, yet only a fraction of it has been investigated or even mapped to a fit-for-purpose resolution. In order to achieve sound stewardship and responsible management, new observational and mapping approaches are needed that can integrate information across scales, maximising observations and minimising cost, while being statistically robust and scientifically objective. The exceptional collaboration between environmental researchers and engineers at NOC drives innovations in robotic technologies and analytical methodologies that allow scientists to multiply observational capacity in space and time, to develop novel mapping approaches for inaccessible areas and to reduce costs of benthic investigations. Within the framework of the ERC Starting Grant project CODEMAP (Grant no 258482), the NERC NC programmes MAREMAP and CLASS, the NERC project AESA, and a series of DEFRA-funded projects, NOC developed (1) new approaches for nested habitat mapping, imaging benthic processes at the scale they occur1; (2) novel techniques to map vertical and overhanging cliffs in the deep sea, a type of habitat overlooked by traditional methods that often hosts vulnerable marine ecosystems, (3) new methods to harvest, in a cost-effective way, the richness of photographic data collected by AUVs; (4) new statistical approaches to habitat mapping, both based on a top-down analysis of full-coverage acoustic data, and a bottom-up spatial modelling of species distributions. Fundamental and applied scientific research into seafloor biodiversity and ecosystem function, its spatial distribution and its evolution under natural and anthropogenic disturbance scenarios NOC has a long-standing expertise in research and habitat mapping with the aim to understand the dynamics and spatial distributions of life on the seafloor. Programmes such as MAREMAP, and the EU FP7 projects HERMIONE, FixO3 and MIDAS have supported evidence-gathering and repeat observations in a wide range of benthic environments, many of which host Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and species/habitats of conservation interest (OSPAR, EU, CBD), or are located in areas earmarked for the development and extraction of marine resources. The new National Capability programme CLASS includes long-term observations and a specific research programme at a series of fixed-point observatories, many in MPAs (Marine Protected Areas). Marine habitat mapping in developing island and coastal states, overseas territories and the high seas The growth of the blue economy is an evolution that is not just reserved to the developed world: particularly island and coastal states are rapidly realising the potential of their marine environment. However, the near-complete lack of robust baseline data to inform their marine strategies and spatial planning calls for urgent action. As part of a series of OT and ODA-based programmes (SOLSTICE, CME, ACCORD, Blue Belt), NOC combines marine habitat mapping research4 with knowledge exchange and training activities in countries such as Belize, Malaysia, Tanzania, British Virgin Islands, Kiribati6, Vanuatu and Dominica. The habitat mapping work is based on low-cost solutions, but incorporates the latest technology where possible, and focusses on the investigation of areas with direct importance for marine spatial planning: essential fish habitat, coral reef extent and status assessments, marine resource development etc. Impacts in ODA countries NOC's work in ODA countries delivers three important outputs: (i) the provision of survey, data processing and analysis skills to in-country partners; (ii) high-quality/high-value data sets, often of essential ocean variables or of habitats of conservation or economic importance; and (iii) interpreted final products (reports, scientific papers, management tools) that are used directly by policy-makers. Projects in Cambodia & Malaysia (ACCORD), Tanzania (SOLSTICE), Dominica & Kiribati (CMEP) and the British Virgin Island (non-ODA funding from the FCO) had strong skills training and capacity building for in-country partners. The work in BVI was particularly important as their request to claim their EEZ has been declined because they currently lack the ability to monitor and manage their marine areas (a combination of skill shortages and scientific hardware). The NOC/BVI capacity building project partially addressed both shortcomings and was of direct impact to the BVI. In Kiribati, NOC training and support allowed the government to produce the first marine resource boundary map for the country, provided new baseline information for management and is influencing policy development for deep-sea mining. Impacts on the international regulation of deep-sea resource exploitation The sustained influence of NOC staff and activities on the policy landscape for deep-sea mining has led to substantive impacts, particularly in mineral exploration and environmental management of deep-sea mining. NOC has been influential in the development of (inter)national regulations for the exploitation of minerals in areas beyond national jurisdiction (governed by the ISA) by translating scientific expertise into policy advice, as well as capacity building in developing economies. The UK Government has used this advice to inform their response to parliamentary questions and in the parliamentary select committee report on Deep-sea Mining. NOC has provided information and advice to industry, which has shaped the development of their environmental impact assessment process, e.g. UK Seabed Resources partnered with NOC in their Abyssal Baseline (Abyssline) Project.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description BP Safety and Operational Risk Group Guide
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee UK Deepwater Drilling report: implications of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: written evidence
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into the designation of Marine Protected Areas
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Offshore Environmental monitoring for the Oil and Gas Industry
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Title Deep Sea ID:a deep sea field guide 
Description An iOS field guide app to the marine life of the deep sea. The project was led by the Natural History Museum, the National Oceanography Centre and the World Register of Marine Species. Funding was provided by the University of Southampton INDEEP project (International Network for Scientific Investigation of Deep-Sea Ecosystems ? which is funded by the Total Foundation). Types of beneficiary include: Independent Research Organisation;Research Council/Institute;Public Research Organisation;Academic Institution;Professional Institution;General Public 
Type Of Technology Software 
URL https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/deep-sea-id/id615240268
 
Title SERPENT website 
Description 2012 here are some statistics: 11,045 visits, 22,965 page views, Visitors from 144 countries Types of beneficiary include: Industrial/Commercial;Research Council/Institute;Public Research Organisation;Government Department;Professional Institution;Trade Association/ Research and Technology Organisations;General Public 
Type Of Technology Software 
URL http://www.serpentproject.com
 
Title World Amphipoda Database 
Description Types of beneficiary include: Independent Research Organisation;Industrial/Commercial;Research Council/Institute;Public Research Organisation;Government Department;General Public 
Type Of Technology Software 
URL http://www.marinespecies.org/amphipoda/
 
Title World Register of Deep-Sea Species 
Description Types of beneficiary include: Independent Research Organisation;Industrial/Commercial;Research Council/Institute;Public Research Organisation;Government Department;Academic Institution;Local and regional Government;Charitable Organisation;Professional Institution;General Public 
Type Of Technology Software 
URL http://www.marinespecies.org/deepsea/