US and Australian Ocean Science Agencies Team Up to Explore and Map Pacific Ocean

Emily Narrow, mission videographer, enjoys the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the back deck of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during the NOAA Ocean Exploration mission: Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific Marine Protected Areas in 2017. Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration

NOAA and two of Australia’s leading science agencies announced a formal agreement Tuesday to work together to advance Pacific Ocean exploration and mapping, a major priority for NOAA and of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The goal of the UN Decade is to bring together stakeholders from around the world to improve ocean health and to use science to improve sustainable development and conservation of the ocean. This collaboration will directly support the UN Decade by contributing to the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, a formally endorsed Decade Action with the goal of mapping the world ocean floor by 2030 and providing the data to all.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., Geoscience Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson, Ph.D., and Toni Moate, Director of National Collections and Marine Infrastructure for Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The MOU expands upon a long-standing relationship between the two maritime nations and will help facilitate the sharing of scientific resources, personnel, technical data and products, and knowledge to support ocean exploration in the Pacific.

During the signing ceremony, Spinrad highlighted how collaboration with Australia will support NOAA’s mission to serve U.S. science and stewardship priorities.

“We cannot fully understand our ocean without international collaboration,” Spinrad said. “Working together with our Australian partners will help accelerate our important shared goals of understanding and mapping the ocean to advance weather prediction, ocean health, climate solutions, and commerce.”

“The MOU will give all three of our organizations the opportunity to work towards shared goals and to find new and innovative solutions to common challenges in ocean exploration and mapping,” said Johnson, CEO of Geoscience Australia. “When we work together, we can achieve truly outstanding science, and I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful work that will come from this MOU with NOAA and CSIRO.”

The MOU will codify collaboration between the three agencies and give a legal framework for activities over the next five years. Areas of cooperation will include exchanging information regarding ocean mapping, exploration, and characterization; identifying technological gaps; exploring the possibility of jointly planned and executed expeditions and campaigns.

The MOU also supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities on ocean exploration and the National Strategy for Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization.

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