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National Oceanography Centre

National Oceanography Centre

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The National Oceanography Centre

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is a marine science research and technology institution based on two sites in Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 and Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It is the UK’s largest institution for integrated sea level science, coastal and deep ocean research and technology development.

The NOC is wholly owned by the Natural Environment Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
The Natural Environment Research Council is a British research council that supports research, training and knowledge transfer activities in the environmental sciences.-History:...

 (NERC) and was formed in April 2010 by bringing together the NERC-managed activity at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton describes the integrated collaboration between the Southampton-based part of the Natural Environment Research Council’s National Oceanography Centre, and University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science...

 and Liverpool’s Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory
Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory
The former Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory is based in Brownlow Street, Liverpool, England. In April 2010, POL merged with the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton to form the National Oceanography Centre National Oceanography Centre...


The centre was set up to work in close partnership with institutions across the UK marine science community to address key science challenges, including sea level change, the oceans’ role in climate change, predicting and simulating the behaviour of the oceans through computer modelling, the future of the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 and long-term monitoring technologies.

Marine science national capability

The NOC provides the bulk of the UK’s capability to meet the needs of the country’s marine research community.

National marine capability provided by the NOC includes Royal Research Ships, and (which is due for replacement in 2014), deep submersibles, including the Autosub autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), advanced ocean sensors and other instruments.

Across its two sites, the National Oceanography Centre is responsible for 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 (BOSCORF), the National Oceanographic Library, which houses the nationally important and HMS Challenger
HMS Challenger (1858)
HMS Challenger was a steam-assisted Royal Navy Pearl-class corvette launched on 13 February 1858 at the Woolwich Dockyard. She was the flagship of the Australia Station between 1866 and 1870....

 archives, and the UK’s main facility for holding and distributing data concerning the marine environment.


The National Oceanography Centre’s waterfront headquarters were opened in 1996 by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, as the Southampton Oceanography Centre. It brought together the University of Southampton's departments of oceanography and geology with the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences, formerly based in Wormley, Surrey, and Research Vessel Services, formerly based in Barry Docks, South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...


It was renamed the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton describes the integrated collaboration between the Southampton-based part of the Natural Environment Research Council’s National Oceanography Centre, and University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science...

 in 2005, again by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, its new name reflecting its prominence in ocean and earth sciences within the UK.

Until April 2010, the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton was jointly owned by the University of Southampton and the Natural Environment Research Council. The term National Oceanography Centre, Southampton continues to be used to describe the collaborative relationship at the waterfront campus.

The National Oceanography Centre’s Liverpool site, on the University of Liverpool campus, was formerly the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory and specialises in tidal and sea level science. It hosts the National Tidal and Sea Level Facility, the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level and the British Oceanographic Data Centre. It was formerly housed at the Bidston Observatory on the Wirral
Wirral may refer to:* Wirral Peninsula, a peninsula in the northwest of England, between the rivers Dee and Mersey* Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, occupying the northern part of the Wirral Peninsula...

 until before moving to the University of Liverpool
University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is a teaching and research university in the city of Liverpool, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and the N8 Group for research collaboration. Founded in 1881 , it is also one of the six original "red brick" civic...

 campus in 2004.

NOC Association

The NOC is at the centre of 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 form the NOC Association, sharing in the delivery of the NERC’s marine science priorities.


The NOC’s partners include the University of Southampton
University of Southampton
The University of Southampton is a British public university located in the city of Southampton, England, a member of the Russell Group. The origins of the university can be dated back to the founding of the Hartley Institution in 1862 by Henry Robertson Hartley. In 1902, the Institution developed...

, whose Ocean and Earth Science academic unit is co-located at the NOC’s dockside headquarters, home to around 520 research scientists, engineers and technicians, ship operations and support staff, as well as around 700 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The University of Liverpool is the NOC’s other hosting partner and postgraduate students are taught in a research-led environment in NOC's Joseph Proudman Building on the university's campus.

The NOC is responsible for managing UK marine science national capability. This includes provision of major facilities, programmes of sustained observing, survey, mapping, data management and other functions. The NOC also manages contracts placed by NERC with other organisations to provide some national capability functions. Such organisations are known as Delivery Partners and include:

The centre is committed to international engagement and has developed a range of international partnerships through the National Marine Coordination Office, including an alliance of Europe’s three principal oceanographic research institutions with Ifremer
Ifremer, standing for French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea is an oceanographic institution in France.- Scope of works :...

of France and IFM Geomar of Germany.