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Letter of Intent signed between NOAA and NIWA

Significant Letter of Intent signed between world leading research organisation NOAA and NIWA

NIWA Chief
Executive John Morgan and NOAA Deputy Administrator Kathryn
Sullivan. Photo credit: USA state office
NIWA Chief Executive John Morgan and NOAA Deputy Administrator Kathryn Sullivan. Photo credit: USA state office

Embargoed until 13 November 2012

A science delegation led by the Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation, recently met with representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder and Washington D.C.

The purpose of the meetings was to progress science and technology collaboration between New Zealand and the USA.

NOAA is a world-leading scientific agency whose strategic mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.

“The meeting was extremely successful,” says NIWA Chief Executive John Morgan. “The key achievement was the signing of a Letter of Intent between NIWA and NOAA that elevates the relationship to a new level of cooperation.”

“We have enjoyed a long-standing and successful record of collaboration across a range of science initiatives but we haven’t had a formal relationship. The Letter of Intent is helping to formalise that relationship on joint research projects.

“Through the Letter of Intent, NOAA and NIWA will not only continue existing research activities but explore new areas of possible scientific cooperation.”

Cooperative activities in atmospheric, climate and ocean research will contribute to meeting the global environmental challenges facing human society.

Possible future areas of cooperative activity include ocean acidification, ship time-sharing and deep-sea exploration.

The two organisations are looking at cooperating on a voyage in 2014, to look at vulnerable marine ecosystems on the Louisville Seamount Chain, north-east of New Zealand.

NIWA General Manager, Research, Dr Rob Murdoch says, “We are hoping that it will strengthen the possibility of using Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROVs) in New Zealand waters. NOAA has an ocean exploration programme, which they could use to provide a ROV to come to New Zealand. ROVs that can explore to the deepest parts of ocean are a technology we don’t have in New Zealand.”

NOAA and NIWA are in discussions about collaborating on measuring and monitoring programmes directed at ocean acidification.

NOAA has expressed an interest in potentially collaborating in a 12-year time series programme run by NIWA and the University of Otago that measures carbon dioxide and pH in sub-Antarctic water, the results of which are showing that surface water is acidifying.

Ocean acidification is of growing concern as the oceans pH is decreasing in response to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“We don’t know how the oceans are going to respond. The oceans are acidifying at a faster rate than they have for many millions of years, and it will particularly impact on shell-forming animals in the sea,” says Dr Murdoch.

Ocean acidification is a global issue. It is already having an impact on the oyster and mussel industry on the west coast of the USA. NIWA scientists are seeing impacts in New Zealand waters and the Ross Sea. Some of these impacts are affecting important marine food webs.

This collaboration between NOAA and NIWA has great depth and breadth and enormous opportunities to grow through potential future projects and the sharing of resources and infrastructure.

Some potential future areas of cooperation include:

• Ocean acidification
• Air-sea gas exchange
• Antarctic research
• Deep-sea exploration
• Weather-related hazard prediction and mitigation
• Ship-time sharing
• Tsunami forecasting
• Ocean-climate ecosystem impacts
• Southwest Pacific and Southern Ocean observations
• Ocean-climate impacts
• Marine environmental management
• Protected species conversation
• Fisheries ecosystem impacts
• Projects of mutual interest associated with international organisations.

A science
delegation led by the Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science
and Innovation
The science delegation, led by the Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation

ENDS

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