National Oceanography Ctr. & Natural Environment Research Council, United Kingdom

National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton

NOC, Univ. of Southampton

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) undertakes integrated ocean research and technology development from the coast to the deep ocean. It provides long-term marine science capability including: major facilities; sustained ocean observing, mapping and survey; data management, and scientific advice. Marine science national capability is provided to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) by NOC working in conjunction with our Delivery Partners.

The NOC is wholly owned by the NERC and brings together the NERC-managed activity at Liverpool’s former Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, creating the UK’s leading institution for sea level science, coastal and deep ocean research and technology development. The new centre works in close partnership with institutions across the UK marine science community.

Integrated research

NOC LIverpool, National Oceanography Centre and NERC, National Environmental Research Council

NOC, Univ. of Liverpool

A central goal of NERC’s Strategy is the creation of more integrated research communities to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our age, with marine science making a vital contribution. The National Oceanography Centre, working with its partners, is addressing key science challenges including sea level change, the oceans’ role in climate change, predicting and simulating the behaviour of the oceans through computer modelling, development, the future of the Arctic Ocean and long-term monitoring technologies.

Partners and Associates

NOC Discovery with gear at University of Southhampton.A major element of the new approach is seeing the NOC develop a strategic network of Partners and Associates – at universities and research institutes – working collaboratively with the centre in its support of world-class research, technology development and training the scientists of the future. Together, these organisations will form the NOC Association, sharing in the identification and delivery of NERC marine science priorities.

National Capability

National Oceanography Centre ship on exploration journey in Brazil. The NOC focus is on providing capability to meet the needs of the whole of the country’s marine research community, including Royal Research Ships, deep submersibles, advanced ocean sensors and instruments. It is also the home to the global mean sea level data archive, the UK’s sea level monitoring system for flood warning and climate change, the national archive of subsea sediment cores (key to the understanding of historic climate change) and the British Oceanographic Data Centre.  Making sure that these facilities are responsive to the requirements of the wide range of users is at the heart of the centre’s approach to delivering national capability.

Greater co-ordination


Princess Royal Names RRS Discovery

The new approach benefits from greater coordination in the delivery of excellent research developed by the marine community over the past decade, with strong investment from the NERC. For example, the close relationship between the University of Southampton and the NERC has led to National Oceanography Centre, Southampton being recognised as one of the world’s leading oceanographic institutions. NERC investment and the development of close links with the University of Liverpool have helped create a world-class research centre at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory. Working with other NERC-funded marine centres in Plymouth and Scotland, the Oceans 2025 programme is delivering a major stream of strategic research and the marine community is now highly successful at winning consortium grant funding.

National Oceanography Centre Deep Sea Research, based throughout United KingdomBuilding on these successful track records, the vision for the National Oceanography Centre is that, by 2015, it is recognised as the world’s leading institution for integrated marine science and technology. Under a single leadership, but working collaboratively with partners both within the UK and internationally, it will place UK marine science in a wider Earth-system and socio-economic context, providing scientific knowledge that underpins policy development and wealth generation, and will aim to influence the European and global strategic research agenda. 

National Oceanographic Centre Delivery Partners

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Plymouth Marine Laboratory, National Oceanography Centre, United KingdomPlymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is a globally recognised, independent academic institution which specialises in delivering pioneering research and relevant knowledge exchange to address the many complex challenges facing the marine environment and ultimately society.

With a strong track record in excellent marine science over four decades, PML is committed to addressing the challenges facing the ocean for the benefit of society. Capabilities include data collection and analysis, field and laboratory experiments, environmental impact assessment, satellite observation, ecosystem modelling, method and tool development, socio-economic evaluation, programme co-ordination, policy advice, capacity building and science communication.

PML also has a commercial trading subsidiary, PML Applications Ltd, which delivers services, products and solutions related to the marine environment in key sectors, such as ballast water management and biofouling.  

Sharing knowledge is a key focus of our business activities, whether that is with the wider scientific community, policymakers, industry partners, stakeholders or the next generation of marine scientists. As a leading partner and key player in many large national and international environmental research programmes, PML serves a range of clients including Research Councils UK, government departments and agencies, the European Union and space agencies and industry.

On average PML collaborates with 250 academic, governmental and industrial partners from 50 countries each year. PML is also a designated National Capability Delivery Partner for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), providing a strategic research capability in marine science for the UK.

Visit the Plymouth Marine Laboratory website for more information.

Marine Biological Association

The Marine Biological Association, National Oceanography Centre, United KingdomThe Marine Biological Association was founded in 1884 and in 1888 opened the Plymouth Laboratory at Citadel Hill. The MBA has a well respected Council who help guide the work of their researchers.

Marine Biological Association of United Kingdom, National Oceanography CentreThe current research programme reflects the wide-ranging commitment of the Association to the development of marine biology. This covers areas as diverse as cell and developmental biology, neurobiology, physiology and functional biology, reproductive biology, and ocean productivity and phytoplankton dynamics. A range of algal and invertebrate species are utilised to investigate fundamental biological problems. Long-term studies of the biology of the English Channel have been supported for more than seventy years and the Association has been instrumental in establishing The Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) to continue the sequence of continuous plankton recorder surveys in the North Atlantic and North Sea.

Visit the Marine Biological Association website for more information.

Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science

Website Snapshot image of Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS).The Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) is an international charity that operates the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey. The Foundation has been collecting data from the North Atlantic and the North Sea on biogeography and ecology of plankton since 1931. More recently, as the foundation has become more involved in international projects, work has been expanded to include other regions around the globe.

The results of the survey are used by marine biologists scientific institutes and in environmental change studies across the world. The CPR team is based in Plymouth, England and consists of analysts, technicians, researchers and administrators, who all play an integral part in the running of the survey.

The foundation is a charity and company limited by guarantee. It depends on voluntary cooperation of the international shipping community. A consortium of agencies from nine countries, the EU and international organisations provide financial support.

Visit the SAFOS website for more information

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Scottish Association for Marine Science, National Oceanography Centre, United KingdomThe Scottish Marine Institute delivers marine research and education that aim to improve our understanding and sustainable use of the marine environment. It is home to the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), a learned society that is among the oldest oceanographic organisations in the world. The Scottish Marine Institute also houses the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology and SAMS Research Services Limited.

SAMS are an international marine research institute working on multi-disciplinary research themes that investigate marine renewable energy, Arctic Seas, dynamic ocean processes and people and the sea. SAMS also provide a multitude of services to business through SAMS Research Services Ltd. SAMS provide innovative higher education degrees and short training courses. To deliver their research and education activities they are supported by outstanding facilities, capabilities and infrastructure.

The site is made up of the following components

  • John Murray Building: SAMS research hub including the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology, the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa, research aquaria, and a multitude of labs and conference/meeting rooms
  • Sheina Marshall Building: this new building is dedicated to education and outreach activities
  • Deep-sea lander development centre
  • Diving building hosting the National Facility for Scientific Diving
  • Pontoon and research vessels
  • Coming in the future: The Scottish Ocean Explorer Centre, an exhibition and outreach facility, and the European Marine Science Park that is being developed on our doorstep by Highlands and Islands Enterprise

They currently employ more than 150 staff. An annual income of around £10M comes from a diverse range of funders, including the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the Scottish Funding Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, other government agencies, and the European Commission.

Visit the Scottish Association for Marine Science website for more information.

Sea Mammal Research Unit

Sea Mammal Research Unit, National Oceanography Centre, United KingdomSMRU provides the UK’s main science capability in the field of marine mammal biology. NERC strategic science funding supports a small proportion of SMRU’s overall research activities and the resources contributed by NERC mainly fund research on seals, thus reflecting the strategic need to support the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. However, SMRU also focuses >50% of its research effort on cetaceans. In agreement with NERC, SMRU raises the remainder of the funding to support its strategic research programme from other sources, including the EU, Defra, Scottish Government, MoD, DBERR and from an income stream generated as a result of the development and supply of instrumentation to the rest of the science community.

SMRU’s current strategic science priorities include: evaluating the status of marine

mammal populations; investigating the importance of marine mammals as components of marine ecosystems; determining the dynamics of marine mammal populations; studying marine mammal social structure and communication; providing the technological basis for observing free-ranging marine mammals and their environment.

Strategic context

Marine Mammals, United Kingdom, Sea Mammal Research Unit of National Oceanography CentreSMRU’s activities address the requirements for information about marine mammals identified in the UK and Scottish Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Strategies and, most importantly, in the new Strategy for Scotland’s Coast and Inshore Waters. It is also relevant to the Joint UK Response to the Review of Marine Nature Conservation, the EU Marine Strategy and the UK Small Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy.

In addition to these inputs to government, SMRU has an important near-market role providing advice to marine industry and providing services to the science community, mainly through instrument design and manufacture and software development. SMRU also takes advantage of the iconic status of marine mammals to improve public knowledge about the marine environment.

Visit the Sea Mammal Research Unit website for more information.

British Antarctic Survey

bas-imageBritish Antarctic Survey (BAS) has a long and distinguished history of carrying out research and surveys in the Antarctic and surrounding regions, undertaking most of the British research on the frozen continent. The close linking of the science programmes with essential logistics support makes BAS very effective in carrying out the complicated and sophisticated scientific field programmes that are necessary today.

As a major research centre of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), BAS:

  • Provides a national capability for Antarctic science and logistics
  • Carry out scientific research, long-term observations and surveys that cannot be done by anyone else in the UK 
  • Provide a focus for international co-operation and programme co-ordination
  • Concentrate on issues fundamental to NERC’s science strategy and conservation of the Antarctic environment

To find out more about the British Antarctic Survey visit their website

British Geological Survey

bgs-imageThe British Geological Survey is a part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is its principal supplier of national capability in geoscience.

It advances understanding of the structure, properties and processes of the solid Earth system through interdisciplinary surveys, monitoring and research for the benefit of society.

It is the UK’s premier provider of objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge for wealth creation, sustainable use of natural resources, reducing risk and living with the impacts of environmental change.

BGS are a world-leading geoscience centre for:

  • survey and monitoring
  • modelling and research
  • data and knowledge

Visit the British Geological Survey website for more information.