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CSIRO Signs Agreement to Push Ocean Science

Image Credits: Geoscience Australia, Press Release

Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and the United States’ National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on ocean exploration and mapping. The partnership was formalised in a virtual signing ceremony recently.  The MoU is a natural alliance between three organisations that have mutual interests.

The CEO of Geoscience Australia stated that the MoU would guide scientific and technical cooperation into the future. he noted that science is fundamentally collaborative. Working together can result in achieving truly outstanding science. The collaboration is being expanded across government organisations, and across nations, to bring the nation’s best people together to work towards shared goals, and to find new and innovative solutions to shared challenges, he said.

The MoU will be the first time that Australia’s science organisations have entered into a cooperative agreement to focus on ocean exploration. For Geoscience Australia, this collaboration is a crucial step to meeting our strategic priority to manage Australia’s marine jurisdiction.

The goal is to lead collaboration across government, industry, and academia to map and characterise Australia’s seabed. The new MoU will facilitate the exchange of scientific resources and knowledge to deliver this outcome.

According to the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030, only 23% of the global ocean floor is mapped, leaving most areas of the seabed unknown. It was noted that a better understanding of the ocean environment helps all levels of government to manage and protect it for the benefit of all.

Oceans have an enormous impact on human lives. The Blue Economy has considerable potential for growth, and sustainable use of our oceans relies on a thorough understanding of this environment. The ocean environment must be mapped and understood to ensure it continues to bring great benefits to Australia and globally.

Ocean mapping also helps understand precious marine habitats. Through it, undersea geohazards and how to avoid them can be understood. How tsunamis may travel across the ocean and where they may reach land can also be identified. Governments and industries in the development of offshore infrastructures such as wind farms for renewable energy and undersea cables for communications can be supported.

During the signing ceremony, NOAA’s Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator highlighted how collaboration with Australia will support NOAA’s mission to serve U.S. science and stewardship priorities. He noted that we cannot fully understand the ocean without international collaboration. Thus, collaborating with Australian partners will help accelerate important shared goals of understanding and mapping the ocean to advance weather prediction, ocean health, climate solutions, and commerce.

CSIRO’s Marine National Facility Director stated that the partnership would harness world-class research capability and expertise, for national and international benefit. She noted that ocean mapping information is vital in helping better understand and manage oceans and, in operating the Marine National Facility on behalf of the nation, CSIRO is a key contributor.

She said that in a world with increasingly interchangeable data, collaborating with neighbours will help all partners make greater progress together. Together, with Geoscience Australia and NOAA, we will open the new frontier of ocean science and mapping, bringing the Blue Economy closer for our two countries and in delivering support to the Pacific region.

Under the new MoU, Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, and NOAA will bring together their experts in ocean exploration and seabed mapping, enabling all organisations to benefit from the combined skills and experience that each agency brings to the table.

By sharing their data, tools, and insights, all three organisations and both countries will benefit from a joint approach to maximise the value of the investment in ocean exploration and mapping. The world will face multiple challenges over the coming decades. It will be far better equipped to meet them with partners working together.

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