HL Deb 12 January 1998 vol 584 cc160-1WA
The Earl of Selborne

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure that British scientists will be able to exploit the major investment of public funds already made in the World Ocean Circulation Experiment by participating in other elements of the World Climate Research Programme; and

Whether they have made any representations to the Natural Environment Research Council concerning the decision to terminate the funding of the United Kingdom's component of the World Ocean Circulation Programme.

Lord Simon of Highbury

UK participation in the international WOCE continues with NERC support at several Higher Education Institutes and also via the council's own centres and surveys. In addition, there is also UK involvement in a number of other WCRP programmes, including a new £3 million NERC initiative in Arctic science (ARCICE) which will provide a major contribution to the Arctic Climate System Study. The marine component of the ARCICE will address the role of Arctic deep water formation and air-sea-ice interactions in driving global ocean circulation patterns, extending and using the data sets collected during the field phase of WOCE. There is also joint funding for a possible future programme on Coupled-Ocean Atmosphere Processes and their Effects on Climate which is currently being explored with the Hadley Centre.

Under the Haldane Principle, which governs our relationship with the Research Councils, specific funding decisions are properly for the individual council and its committees in consultation with its research and user communities. However, the noble Lord may like to be aware that the NERC thematic programme on WOCE came formally to its scheduled end in 1997: 12 research grants and 10 studentships supported under that programme have now been completed and a further three major research grants and five studentships are still running with committed NERC expenditure of around £150,000 in FY 1998–99. There is ongoing NERC support of around £1 million per annum for work related to ocean circulation and climate at the Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC) through three major research programmes. The SOC also hosts, with NERC support, the International Project Office for WOCE—facilitating access by UK researchers to international results and scientific developments.