The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton brings together scientists and engineers from the Natural Environment Research Council and the University of Southampton in a collaborative environment on the city’s waterfront. The centre is a multidisciplinary hub of expertise, housing oceanographers, geologists, ecologists and physicists and delivering the technologies needed to carry out world-leading research that answers pressing questions about our planet. Three key areas of research which feed into UK and global policy on climate change, demonstrate the wide range of work undertaken there.
Studying sea levels and climate change
Eelco Rohling is Professor of Ocean and Climate Change at the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
His team have developed a new method to reconstruct sea-level changes in 100-year time steps, going back over the last 500,000 years which increases our understanding of the impact of more recent climate changes on sea-levels.
Prof Rohling explains: “Some of our figures are being used to inform extreme scenarios for flood protection plans for strategic centres like London, Manhattan, Rotterdam and Seattle.”
How marine animals and plants capture carbon
Dr Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez has been studying ocean biochemistry and ecosystems for 15 years, looking at the effect of ‘ocean acidification’ on marine organisms.
“For the first time”, explains Dr IglesiasRodriguez, “we have proved that calcification by phytoplankton varies depending on species. Some of these microscopic organisms, which are major players in the Earth’s cycling of carbon, are responding to climate change by increasing the size of their calcium carbonate plates.”
RAPID Programme - global scale research and the future
Professor Meric Srokosz is science co-ordinator of the NERC RAPID climate change programme at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. His project, which started in 2004, is to track a decade of the North Atlantic circulation and its effect on climate. The project monitors changes to the circulation, and using these to develop improved models to forecast future change.
The programme is working with the Meteorological Office Hadley Centre which advises the Government on climate change issues, and is funded through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD).