NERC's mission is to advance the frontier of environmental science. Through the FMRI programme, NERC seeks to commission a research infrastructure that enables the UK's marine science aspirations and ambitions, recognizing the relevance of marine science to society.

Workstream Objectives

A strong business depends on articulating the science requirements clearly, thereby enabling priorities, interdependencies, synergies, trade-offs and consequences to be considered in context given the financial and carbon emissions envelope for UKRI. Such an approach will also enable the articulation of priorities for greater ambition if new funding and partnership opportunities arise. The objectives of the FMRI Science Requirements workstream are therefore to:

  • Build on the NZOC Scoping Study: Future Science Need report, exploring and documenting the science requirements for a future research infrastructure.
  • Engage the UK science community in the preparation of the Science Requirements Framework, ensuring that their voice is captured and seen to be listened to.
  • Develop the strategic relationships with key science stakeholders to build commitment and support for the transition.

Workstream Lead: Katy Hill, Lead Scientist


Knowledge of the oceans is more than a matter of curiosity. Our very survival may hinge upon it.

President John F Kennedy, March 1961. Message to Congress.


Science Requirements Framework

FMRI is developing a Science Requirements Framework (SRF) that will shape the design of the future infrastructure and inform the decision on the best way forward. This process is not starting from scratch. It is building on the FMRI Science Case and the significant work undertaken for the Net Zero Oceanographic Capability scoping study, particularly the Future Science Need work package which included an in-depth analysis of UK marine science activities. Other strategic documents and plans nationally and internationally will also be leveraged to shape a concise, forward looking SRF.

Webinar: Introduction to the SRF →

The scope of FMRI incorporates both sustained, experimental and discovery/exploratory capability and will consider how to optimally combine observations (e.g. in situ measurements with satellite remote sensing), prediction systems and digital tools.  To develop a requirements framework, FMRI will need to consider national requirements arising from societal needs, UK policy and international commitments such as major conventions. FMRI can draw upon authoritative international guidance when considering the UK research interests and capabilities.

Marine Science Grand Challenges

The SRF is taking a strategic look at the capabilities that will be required to support Marine Science in 2040. The framework is structured around 5 Marine Science Grand Challenges:

  • The role of the ocean in a changing climate,
  • Protecting biodiversity and ocean health,
  • Marine pollution: its sources, distribution and solutions,
  • Strengthening resilience to natural hazards and extreme events,
  • Sustainable blue economy and ecosystem services.

The development of the SRF is being led by the FMRI Lead Scientist with the support and oversight of an Editorial Group who have been selected by virtue of their existing national roles. FMRI has also recruited Grand Challenge Champions who will help to lead the discussion around each of the Challenges.

Meet the Champions →



From April to September 2024 the team are undertaking a period of intensive community consultation. The aim is to present a draft FMRI Scientific Requirements Framework at the Challenger Conference in September 2024 and then proceed to a 6-month period of review and refinement through to March 2025. This will then be submitted to NERC to provide the FMRI Board with actionable recommendations for the future infrastructure.



Opportunities to Engage

The key engagement activities for the programme are:

  • SRF Launch Webinar, 8th March 2024
  • Edinburgh / Liverpool / Exeter Roadshows, 30th April - 9th May 2024
  • NOC Association Annual Meeting (virtual), 3rd-4th June 2024
  • Grand Challenge Virtual Meetings →
    • Hazards - 7th June, 10:00-12:00
    • Climate - 17th June, 10:00-12:00
    • Blue Economy - 17th June, 12:00-14:00
    • Pollution - 17th June, 14:00-16:00
    • Biodiversity - 21st June, 10:00-12:00
  • London Roadshow Workshop, 25th June 2024 (fully booked, contact with questions)
  • Challenger Conference (in-person), 2nd-6th September 2024

Members of the FMRI team will also be attending other national and international fora, and the Grand Challenge Champions will be convening additional opportunities for online engagement.


Useful Resources

This report summarises the outcomes of the Future Science Need work package of the Net-Zero Oceanographic Capability scoping study.