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Coastal ocean science showcased at the Met Office

November 2016 - The 2nd Challenger Society Coastal Ocean Special Interest Group workshop was held at the Met Office on 22 and 23 November 2016.

A group of scientists from UK research institutions and academia met together at the Met Office to review the latest developments in coastal ocean research and discuss future research directions.

The Coastal Ocean Special Interest Group, kindly supported by the Challenger Society for Marine Science, provides a forum for dissemination of UK coastal ocean research and to explore future demands on, and opportunities for, the marine science community.

Developing the UK coastal ocean community

As illustrated by a packed meeting agenda, the workshop content covered the full breadth of coastal oceanography including physical, biological and chemical oceanography from both observational and modelling disciplines.

The meeting also continued the tradition in oceanography of facilitating ongoing dialogue and interaction between those working at the forefront of the operational application of ocean models and observations, such as those provided by the Met Office and National Partnership for Ocean Prediction with those working at the more ‘blue skies’ research frontiers.

Contributions were also gratefully received from established researchers with several decades experience and those early-career researchers and PhD students just setting out on their careers in marine science.

Figure 1: Illustration of “quantum shift” in future operational coastal ocean modelling capability, comparing a snapshot of surface currents (m/s) from (left) current 7 km horizontal resolution grid and bathymetry AMM7 system with (right) future 1.5 km horizontal resolution grid and bathymetry AMM15 system. (Figure courtesy of Jennifer Graham, Met Office)

Key themes

A number of presentations discussed work that sits across the traditional boundaries of ocean science, indicating that increasingly integrated and multi-disciplinary approaches to observation and modelling is already being delivered and is likely to become more critical in future. This is leading to much closer dialogue between observation and modelling specialists and between those working on physical oceanography and marine biogeochemistry.

There is also a growing appreciation of the need to focus effort on improving observations and predictions in the very near coastal and estuarine regions. Interactions between the ocean and surface waves were also discussed, in the context of moving towards more integrated Earth System or Environmental Prediction approaches to observation and prediction.

The Challenger Coastal Ocean Special Interest Group will continue to provide a forum for progressing these ideas. The meeting agreed to further champion and develop research proposals and collaborations which help to deliver ongoing improvements of the observation, understanding and simulation of our coastal oceans, in order to deliver benefits to those using and impacted by the seas around us.

Figure 2: Illustration of sustained glider observations of physical and biological ocean properties in the western Irish Sea across a tidal mixing front. The prospects for the use of such glider data as a long-term solution for sustained observations of our coastal ocean was discussed at the workshop. (Figure courtesy of Matthew Palmer, National Oceanography Centre)

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