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The University of Southampton

Intelligent Oceans research to target critical issues facing society

Published: 19 February 2021
Intelligent Oceans research
Oceans and seas represent one of our greatest assets and are central to human life

A new research programme being launched at the University of Southampton will transcend disciplinary boundaries to impact how future generations engage with the world’s oceans and seas.

The Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI) will host 15 PhD positions over the next six years through £1.35m of support from the Leverhulme Trust.

The Intelligent Oceans leadership team, led by SMMI Deputy Director Professor Fraser Sturt, is drawn from across the University and includes the School of Engineering’s Professor Susan Gourvenec and Professor Blair Thornton.

Intelligent Oceans will target critical issues facing society; from the cross-cutting impacts of coastal change, through the implications of increasing exploitation of the deep ocean, to the emergent complexities in managing and governing ocean space in the 21st Century.

The first UN World Ocean Assessment concluded in 2016 that time is running out to generate sufficient knowledge and understanding to manage our oceans sustainably. Around 40 percent of the world’s population live within 100km of the sea, with 90 percent of goods traded across it. Our oceans and seas regulate our climate and encapsulate an archive of human life on earth.

Professor Sturt says: “Socially, legally and scientifically, decision making and knowledge gathering relating to the oceans and seas occurs in a different way to that of terrestrial and even extra-terrestrial contexts. The result is that knowledge has been fragmented along disciplinary and legislative boundaries – limiting the range of ideas and approaches used.

“The Intelligent Oceans programme will seek to counter this problem – co-creating projects to address pivotal challenges facing society through a lens of marine and maritime activity.”

The first set of students is due to enrol in Autumn 2021.

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