Letter: All at sea over the climate

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The Independent Online
Sir: While the UK indulges in the election campaign, a few scientists will be hard at work at sea, somewhere in the North-east Atlantic. Between 15 April and 16 May, an international and multidisciplinary group of oceanographers will be investigating the variability of biological activity and its relationship to ocean dynamics. The investigation of the ocean's role in climate continues, regardless of this election.

Or will it? A recent report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee warns that existing funds for climate research could be "spread more thinly and less effectively". There is disturbing evidence that this is a direct result of political pressure on both the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Meteorological Office to become "more market-oriented". NERC resources are being squeezed

at the expense of oceanography.

One wonders if, at the end of our cruise, we will return to a post-election Britain which is prepared to make the necessary commitment to fund research into ocean science and the climate system at large.

Dr DAVID CROMWELL

Southampton Oceanography Centre

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