Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 2

Submission from the United Kingdom Hydrographic Centre

  1.  The Maritime Environment Information Centre (MEIC) at the UK Hydrographic Office:

    (a)  Is a repository for marine environmental data collected by the Royal Navy—we process raw observational data, build and manage databases.

    (b)  Provides the information which the RN needs to enable commanders to understand their operating environment—we analyse data, both our own and data acquired from external sources. The results of such analyses are used to compile a range of products that are distributed to RN units.

    (c)  Has a global remit with particular emphasis on regions of operational interest.

  2.  The Marine Environment Information Centre's major contribution to marine science is to manage a significant volume of data. Part of that process is to periodically release batches of data to the wider science community. Our data is delivered to the British Oceanographic Data Centre, the National Oceanographic Data Centre (US) and, in the case of marine life observations, to Duke University in the US for dissemination via the OBIS website.

  3.  Data may also be made available to support specific research projects such as marine mammal habitat preference modelling (Sea Mammal Research Unit, St Andrews University).

How marine science is being used to advance knowledge of the impact of climate change on the oceans

  4.  Any impact on climate change studies is incidental. Certainly the release of old data is useful in climate change studies but the data has rarely been gathered with that use in mind.

Organisation and funding of UK marine science in the polar and non-polar regions

  5.  The MoD collaborates with various scientific institutions such as the National Oceanography Centre for the Sumatra seabed survey, Scott Polar Research Institute for under ice measurements and St Andrews University for marine mammal studies. MEIC is peripherally involved in such projects in being the repository for data collected and supply supporting data. MoD has also been asked to submit evidence and would probably be better placed to present evidence about such activity. The NERC/MoD Joint Grant Scheme for funding research has been significant in terms of funding for marine science and is currently an issue for research organisations who find it difficult to secure funding from NERC by this route. UKHO is represented in CAROS (Cooperative Arrangements for Search in Ocean Science) a joint NERC/MoD group chaired by MoD, DI-ICSP.

The role of the UK internationally and international collaboration in marine science

  6.  MEIC does have some standing internationally in defence marine science due to the RN's global interests, our position within NATO and various bilateral arrangements. Activity is largely data and product exchange.

Support for marine science, including provision and development of technology and engineering

  7.  We do play a small part in the delayed mode quality control of Argo data but I would assume that MoD's contribution to its funding is much more significant in this context.

Use of marine sites of specific scientific interest

  8.  MEIC supports the RN Sonar 2117 project. S2117 is a computer decision aid whose purpose is to provide command guidance on the minimisation of the environmental impacts from use of sonar. Our support is primarily in the provision of underlying data sets on the distribution of marine mammal species and other relevant oceanographic information. We are also responsible for providing geospatial data describing the locations of marine management areas of all designations including Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

January 2007

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