The Canada Foundation for Innovation funding for UVic-based Ocean Networks Canada aims to increase equitable and inclusive participation in ocean observing, while also supporting the development of sophisticated data interpretation tools, products and services. (Courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust)

The Canada Foundation for Innovation funding for UVic-based Ocean Networks Canada aims to increase equitable and inclusive participation in ocean observing, while also supporting the development of sophisticated data interpretation tools, products and services. (Courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust)

B.C.-based observatory gets nearly $115 million to expand ocean research

University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada serves as the country’s eyes under the sea

The University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) initiative will receive a federal investment of $114.8 million over the next six years to advance ocean observing and expand the reach of its open access big data.

Announced Friday (Aug. 19), the funding will be awarded through the Major Science Initiatives Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a fund that covers portions of operating and maintenance costs of select national science facilities across the country.

Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world and ONC is the only national ocean observatory – it operates more than 9,000 coastal and deep sea sensors in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

The support will aid the observatory’s endeavour to develop climate crisis solutions, in addition to promoting safer coastal communities, Indigenous ocean data stewardship and a sustainable economy.

“This funding recognizes Ocean Networks Canada for its leadership and the profound difference it’s making on all three Canadian coasts and internationally,” said UVic president and vice-chancellor Kevin Hall. “As a research university, we take pride in working in partnership to create a better world – by taking action on climate change and working with partners to make life better on land and below the water.”

Over the last 16 years ONC has expanded beyond its initial work in the Salish Sea to create an extensive network of underwater observing infrastructure. According to ONC president and CEO Kate Moran, real-time and long-time series ocean data enable a range of services that facilitate scientific discovery.

The data supports climate impact monitoring, maritime safety, innovation in climate change mitigation and even contributes to B.C.’s earthquake and tsunami early warning systems.

“Canadians can be proud of their national observatory that not only yields valuable insights into this undersea world that covers two thirds of our planet, but also contributes to Canada’s climate leadership through innovation in ocean nature-based and technological climate mitigation solutions and coastal resilience,” Moran said.

“This investment also means that ONC, through its work with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, can continue working with partners in Canada and internationally to advance projects in pursuit of healthier oceans, science that promotes ocean resilience and a citizenry engaged with the oceans’ role in supporting life on this planet.”

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austin.westphal@saanichnews.com

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