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NOAA teams with Vulcan to explore, map deep ocean

Apr 21, 2020 12:02 PM

The organizations aim to analyze long-term changes in weather, climate and sea-level rise

The following is text of a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

(WASHINGTON) — NOAA has forged a formal agreement with Vulcan Inc., the company created by the late Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, to share data resulting from the two organizations' ocean work.

Both NOAA and Vulcan share a mission to advance the public’s understanding of the value and importance of the global ocean. Through a new memorandum of understanding, NOAA and Vulcan intend to deepen their current work together through additional collaborative opportunities.

“The future of ocean science and exploration is partnerships,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “NOAA is forging new collaborations, such as the one with Vulcan, to accelerate our mission to map, explore, and characterize the ocean, which will help NOAA support the conservation, management, and balanced use of America’s ocean and understand its key role in regulating our weather and climate.”

The agreement with Vulcan is another example of NOAA’s increased effort to create partnerships that help NOAA advance ocean science, fully map the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone and strengthen the American Blue Economy, which includes sustainable seafood production, tourism and recreation, ocean exploration, marine transportation, and coastal resilience. 

“Lack of knowledge and not being able to monitor progress toward better ocean health is a fundamental shortcoming when trying to build a successful strategy,” said Bill Hilf, CEO of Vulcan. “We see this knowledge gap as a call to action. Together with partners such as NOAA, we will help provide foundational data to inform the restoration and protection of our oceans.” 

Seattle-based Vulcan manages a broad portfolio of projects and investments all over the world. The company serves as an incubator for new technologies and global philanthropic efforts. Its work focuses on solving some of the world’s biggest challenges facing oceans, climate, conservation, and communities.  

This is the second major collaboration between NOAA and Vulcan and its philanthropic work funded by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The groundbreaking public-private collaboration began in 2017 to deploy a large array of new deep ocean floats, expanding observations in a key area of the western South Atlantic off Brazil. As of February of this year, that array of Deep Argo floats has been deployed and 27 floats are reporting back ocean temperature and salinity data from the surface to the seafloor. These data will be publicly available and used to better understand how changes in the bottom half of the ocean may influence long-term weather, climate, and sea-level rise.

The NOAA MOU with Vulcan comes on the heels of other partnerships with ocean exploration and technology organizations, including Caladan Oceanic, OceanX, Ocean Infinity, and Viking Cruises.

NOAA is celebrating 50 years of science, service, and stewardship in fulfilling a mission to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

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