Douglas Wallace leads Canadian push to join research consortium

Canada has been invited to join AtlantOS, a large European consortium bidding for up to €20 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program to establish the Atlantic Ocean’s first integrated ocean observation system.

The bid for Canadian participation in the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS) is led by the Marine Environmental, Observation, Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR), under the directorship of Douglas Wallace, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology at Dalhousie University.

As explained in Research Money, MEOPAR’s immediate challenge is to align the relevant domestic funders to support Canada’s inclusion in the program and work with other ocean research organizations to ensure industry participation. Wallace said MEOPAR is ideally positioned to play such a role and has the flexibility to act quickly. Participation in AtlantOS is critical to ensure that Canadian interests and research opportunities are well represented over the course of the research program.

“It’s a great opportunity and for MEOPAR a great challenge. There’s potentially high benefit to accessing EU expertise and equipment as this information is highly relevant to Canada,” said Wallace. “The key is to find multi-sectoral cooperation and work effectively between the research community and industry.”

“The technology component needs to be integrated. For instance, the need for information and ocean measurements and predictions in the offshore oil and gas industry. Industry is already collecting data but it could integrate it with academic and government measurements.”

The initiative is designed to build on existing capacities on both sides of the Atlantic to enhance understanding of ocean processes at the level of the entire basin while reducing the costs of ocean observation. Expected impacts include increased temporal and geographic coverage of observational data in the Atlantic Ocean and development of standardized process models and forecast systems.

“Innovation in the ocean technology world comes out of groups of people trying to do difficult things together. That’s where the ideas are developed and exchanged, […] an intellectual environment where ideas bubble up to the surface and are tested,” said Wallace.