#MarineScience - The Atlantic Ocean: Our Unknown Treasure was on the agenda at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, California on Saturday 14 February.
Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan joined European Commission officials and leading scientists from the USA, Europe and Canada to discuss how to explore the largely unknown Atlantic Ocean; how new technologies can help us to challenge our understanding of the planet; and how new observation and visualisation tools can improve what we know about the seabed and inform science to help shape future marine policy.
The event built on the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Research Co-operation signed at the Marine Institute in May 2013 by representatives from the EU, Canada and the US, launching an Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.
Its goals are to better understand the Atlantic and the Arctic, to study the interplay between them, particularly relating to climate change, and to promote sustainable management of their resources.
Speaking about the event, Dr Heffernan said: "It's an exciting time, as all sides - European, US and Canadian - have shown engagement, planning and commitment to driving the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance forward and preparing joint actions.
"There are very real global challenges to be tackled, and there is strong momentum now to create significant benefits such as better ecosystem assessments and forecasts and deeper understandings of vulnerabilities and risks.
"These transatlantic collaborations will also help to generate new tools to increase resilience and adaptation and to conserve our rich biodiversity. We also really need to foster public understanding of how ocean science and observation will address pressing issues for citizens and for the environment."
Dr Heffernan concluded: "The AAAS meeting gave an opportunity to see some of the collaborations that are undertaken in the Atlantic Ocean and discuss challenges for future research, technological developments, mapping and imaging as well as research co-operation across the Atlantic."