The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, has announced a planned bequest of $25 million from Francis E. Fowler to establish a center focused on the intersection of oceanography and climate science and $3 million to launch the center.
In the wake of a recently announced partnership between WHOI and semiconductor company Analog Devices focused on the role of ocean in combating climate change, the Francis E. Fowler IV Center for Ocean and Climate will provide fellowships for students, postdoctoral scholars, and established scientists pursuing climate research; make direct investments in climate research projects; work to engage the public and policy makers in ocean and climate issues; and provide "acceleration" funds aimed at unlocking additional funding from outside sources in support of programs and multidisciplinary efforts at WHOI.
Among other things, the center will work to explore the effectiveness of ocean-based solutions to climate change identified by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which include lowering barriers to ocean-based renewable energy, accelerating the conservation of existing coastal ecosystems, and reducing the carbon footprint of the fishing and aquaculture industries. According to a report by the panel, these and other solutions, if fully implemented, have the potential to provide up to 21 percent of the annual greenhouse gas reductions the world needs by 2050 to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"It is imperative that we act now," said Fowler, an international business leader and entrepreneur who circumnavigated the globe in a custom-built sailboat. "The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the globe's surface, so if we want to turn climate change around, we need to look to the ocean. The ocean is our planetary life support system, and if we don't understand it and take care of it, the future of our ocean planet could be compromised to the detriment of mankind and all living creatures."