Offshore Industry News

National Marine Facilities Technology Road Map Published

The National Oceanography Centre has this week published the National Marine Facilities (NMF) Technology Roadmap 2020-21, which outlines current capabilities and looks to the future of oceanographic science and the technology that will take us there.

The NMF Technology Road Map acts as a focus for the interactions between science and technology (‘science pull and technology push’) in developing the National Marine Equipment Pool (NMEP) and associated supporting infrastructure. The Road Map highlights how these capabilities feed into the broader goals of an integrated observing system and how the data gathered can support the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and its constituent parts. 

The 2020/21 refresh of the Road Map incorporates new components around deployment planning, data curation and the development of research ship capabilities. These elements were added to provide a full picture of the support provided to the UK marine science community by NMF and the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). 

'From the sea surface to the deep ocean'

The NMEP is the largest centralised marine scientific equipment pool in Europe with a diverse range of scientific instruments and equipment capable of sampling from the sea surface to the deep ocean. Suitable for studying a range of scientific disciplines, the NMEP holds more than 10,000 instruments and technologies, and provides scientists with access to skilled marine technicians and engineers. As part of our national capability remit, the NMEP delivers technological and engineering support to enable the marine science community to carry out world-class research.

The NMF team works with the UK marine science community, primarily through the Marine Facilities Advisory Board (MFAB), chaired by Professor Carol Robinson, whose support has been invaluable. This is the key channel through which the marine science community can discuss topics and raise, for example, the need for new capabilities for inclusion in the NMEP. 

Against a backdrop of budget constraints, accelerating technology development, big data and the increasing adoption of Marine Autonomous Systems (MAS), NMF is committed to delivering the best possible support and value for money to the UK science community and to support the UK Marine Science Strategy. The NOC’s strategic goals include the requirement to provide world-class underpinning capabilities that enable the UK and global ocean scientific endeavour. This is achieved through the NOC Board of Trustees as well as the Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) Cruise Programme Review Group. 

NMF was commissioned by the NERC in 2018 to operate the RRS James Cook and the RRS Discovery, the NMEP, and the associated planning, logistical, maintenance and repair functions. NMF receives additional capital funding from NERC to replace, refurbish, upgrade and further develop the ship-fitted scientific equipment and the NMEP.  NMF reviews feedback from multiple stakeholders as well as considering technology developments associated with current capabilities to ensure its strategy for replacement, upgrade and development is evidence-based. In addition, the MFAB provides advice to NMF with regards to its strategy for the equipment portfolio it operates and provides further guidance regarding new and emerging requirements. 

'Underpinning UK and global scientific endeavour'

Leigh Storey, the NOC’s Associate Director for National Marine Facilities, said: “We are delighted to be able to present the NMF Technology Road Map 2020-21 to the marine science community, and to anyone with an interest in the world-class technology and strategy that underpins UK and global ocean scientific endeavour. The study of the ocean has never been more important, as the world begins to understand how central it is in supporting the livelihoods of millions of people around the world, in helping to regulate the climate, and in tackling the fundamental environmental challenges facing the planet. 

“I would like to thank all of the partners who have contributed to this document, in particular Dr Maaten Furlong, Head of NMF’s Marine Autonomous and Robotics Systems group, and I hope it provides useful insight into the present and future of marine scientific research.”

The National Marine Facilities Technology Road Map 2020-21 is available to view and download here.

Equipment within the National Marine Equipment Pool is available for use by the marine science community. Contact us for more information or to arrange commercial hire of our instruments, vehicles and equipment.

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