Science for the UN Decade of the Ocean Challenger Society Event

18 November 2021 13:00-15:00.

Meeting Report - Dr Judith Wolf

A virtual Discussion Meeting, on the topic of ‘Science for the UN Decade of the Ocean’, hosted by the Challenger Society for Marine Science, was held (via Zoom) on 18th November 2021 13:00-15:00. It was organised by Chelsey Baker, Judith Wolf and Anna Mcgregor.

The purpose of the meeting was partly to fill the gap caused by cancelling the 2020 (Biennial) Challenger Conference, due to COVID-19. The next full conference will be held in London in September 2022, hosted by the Natural History Museum and Imperial College London, as part of the sesquicentennial (150th!) celebrations of the start of the original Challenger Expedition in December 1872. Of course, this has left a 4-year gap- for UK-based early career marine scientists, who are normally given an opportunity to showcase their work at the Challenger conference. To this end, the Challenger Society has organised a series of four virtual meetings in autumn 2021 (https://www.challenger-society.org.uk/Virtual_Conference_2021). 

We are also at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030, see www.oceandecade.org). Subtitled ‘The Science we need for the Ocean we want’, this has been planned to deliver a Clean, Safe, Healthy and Resilient, Predicted, Sustainably Productive, Transparent and Accessible Ocean. We invited some of our early career scientists to submit abstracts to talk about their work from the perspective of the UN Decade, asking them what topics in Ocean Science they think are the most important to explore during this decade. In October 2020, the Royal Society’s Global Environmental Research Committee (GERC) hosted a virtual workshop, which brought together about 60 more senior representatives of the UK’s ocean research, policy and funding community to discuss how the UK can make a successful research contribution to the Ocean Decade (https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/publications/2021/ocean-decade-workshop/). The present meeting aimed to facilitate a bottom-up discussion, involving our Early Career Scientists in understanding issues that will dominate ocean science (and their careers) over the next decade: how can we protect and heal our oceans, providing a safe and secure future for life on our planet?

The meeting schedule was as follows:

13:00-13:15 – Introduction and housekeeping and overview of the UN Decade of the Ocean: Dr Judith Wolf (Emeritus Fellow, National Oceanography Centre, NOC)

After the introduction we ran a poll: Are you involved in any activities relating to the UN Decade of the Ocean? Most respondents were not, but wanted to be!

13:15-13:40 UN Decade of the Ocean – Actions Plans and Programmes – chaired by Dr Chelsey Baker

Two speakers shared this session – Dr Adrian Martin (NOC), who spoke on the topic of ‘Getting endorsed as a UN Ocean Decade programme: JETZON as an example’. This provided much useful information about how programmes and projects were adopted into the UN Decade. It’s important to note that the programme endorsement does not confer any funding, so an important part of the exercise is to find funding. Dr Sian Henley (University of Edinburgh) spoke about ‘The Southern Ocean Action Plan for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.’ She emphasised the importance of the link between the ocean science and the community of people who live near the ocean and whose livelihoods depend on it. There have been two regional workshops and surveys on the Action Plan for the Southern Ocean, which will be released in early 2022. Sian showed how to find links to get involved, for anyone who was working on the Southern Ocean. There was time for some questions for these speakers. Adrian commented how helpful the UN Decade team are if you have a preliminary idea that needs development.

13:40-14:30-Science for the UN Decade of the Ocean – chaired by Dr Chelsey Baker

Five short 10-minute talks on a range of science topics were then presented.

Dr Michela De Dominicis (NOC): ‘The role of mangroves in the coastal protection of the Pearl River Delta’. Michela described how mangroves can provide nature-based coastal protection using models developed in the ANCODE project (a NEWTON programme project funded by Netherlands, China and UK).

Dr Ollie Tooth (University of Oxford): ‘A dominant role for the subpolar gyre in the mean high-latitude Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.’ The strength of the high-latitude Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has profound implications for Arctic sea-ice decline and European climate change. A novel diagnostic of the overturning was presented to help understand the behaviours of the circulation pathways.

Dr Zoe Jacobs (NOC): ‘Ocean science in action: communicating cutting edge advances in marine research and technology via Massive Online Open Courses’ This focussed on the MOOC developed as part of the SOLSTICE project, addressing three case studies of ocean science for fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean, using Earth Observation, marine robots and models.

Dr Shovonlal Roy (University of Reading): ‘Will Earth-observation satellites be able to monitor nutritional status of oceanic phytoplankton?‘ Nutrition from microscopic phytoplankton determines the growth of macroscopic and higher-trophic species in the ocean. Any change in the nutritional status of phytoplankton will affect the oceanic respiratory quotient, trophic balance and sustainability of marine food webs in the future. This presentation demonstrated how ocean images from Earth-observation satellites can be used to estimate the nutritional value of phytoplankton in the world oceans.

Dr Francisco de Melo Virissimo (NOC): ‘Does seasonality matter? Investigating the influence of seasonal variability in flux attenuation on global organic carbon fluxes and nutrient distributions’. Francisco present some results from a global biogeochemical model, coupled to an ocean circulation via the transport matrix method, which has been used to study the effect that an imposed seasonal variation in the flux attenuation and detritus sinking speed has on the global nutrient distributions and particulate organic carbon (POC) transfer to depth.

14:30-14:55 Discussion – chaired by Dr Judith Wolf

Questions for the speakers were collated in this discussion, from the chat. The speakers were also asked to address the first of the Discussion prompts below:

1.           What questions in Ocean Science urgently need to be answered to deliver the UN Decade goals?

2.           How can you get involved in a UN Decade project? What sources of funding are available?

The second part of the discussion was well-addressed by Adrian and Sian.
Sian suggested that the role for the Challenger Society could be to identify how to coordinate activities e.g. on topics like food supply and energy security.
Kate Hendry suggested we need to address the democratisation of science, how to make it accessible to all, especially non-scientific stakeholders.
Adrian noted that there had been no mention of pollution and this was an important gap.

14:55-15:00 Judith thanked the participants for their attendance (we had a maximum attendance of 54 out of over 100 registrants) and asked them to complete an Exit Survey. Those who filled in the survey rated the event at 4.25/5 stars.

Meeting Advert

We are now at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). Subtitled ‘The Science we need for the Ocean we want’, this has been planned to deliver a Clean, Safe, Healthy and Resilient, Predicted, Sustainably Productive, Transparent and Accessible Ocean.

What topics in Ocean Science do you think are the most important to explore during this decade? In October 2020, the Royal Society’s Global Environmental Research Committee (GERC) hosted a virtual workshop, which brought together about 60 representatives of the UK’s ocean research, policy and funding community to discuss how the UK can make a successful research contribution to the Ocean Decade. Presentations, panels and group discussions identified priority research areas to provide advice to funding organisations, Government, and research institutions and the report of that meeting may be found here. We are hosting a session for researchers to highlight their work in the context of one or more of the UN Decade of the Ocean themes. Presentations will be followed by a short discussion session. This meeting will be free and is open to members and non-members of the Challenger Society but as an incentive to join the Society we will be giving a free gift to new members this year. 

Please register for the event here: Registration Link



Science for the UN Decade of the Ocean – 13:00-15:00
Schedule


Introduction and housekeeping

UN Decade of the Ocean - Action Plans and Programmes

Adrian Martin (National Oceanography Centre) 
‘Getting endorsed as a UN Ocean Decade programme: JETZON as an example’

Sian Henley (The University of Edinburgh) 
‘The Southern Ocean Action Plan for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.’

Science for the UN Decade of the Ocean

Michela De Dominicis (National Oceanography Centre) 
‘The role of mangroves in the coastal protection of the Pearl River Delta’

Ollie Tooth (University of Oxford)
‘A dominant role for the subpolar gyre in the mean high-latitude Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.’

Zoe Jacobs (National Oceanography Centre) 
‘Ocean science in action: communicating cutting edge advances in marine research and technology via Massive Online Open Courses’

Shovonlal Roy (University of Reading)
‘Will Earth-observation satellites be able to monitor nutritional status of oceanic phytoplankton?‘

Francisco de Melo Virissimo (National Oceanography Centre)
‘Does seasonality matter? Investigating the influence of seasonal variability in flux attenuation on global organic carbon fluxes and nutrient distributions’

Discussion


If you have any queries please contact chelsey.baker@noc.ac.uk or judith.wolf@noc.ac.uk


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