Challenger 150

A decade-long programme of deep-sea research

Challenger 150 logo

What is Challenger 150?

The Challenger 150 programme is a global scientific cooperative developed to respond to the needs of the UN Ocean Decade. Following on from the Census of Marine Life, the last 10 year global programme devoted to understanding the biology of the oceans, Challenger 150 provides an umbrella, under which individual research projects can operate, and in doing so contribute to a much larger global research  effort. Challenger 150 is a vehicle for coordination of deep-sea research globally towards a set of common objectives. Those objectives are set out by the UN Ocean Decade but here are set in the deep-sea research context (see Howell et al. (2020) for detail)

  1. Build capacity for deep-sea research globally
  2. Expand deep-sea biological observations and sampling in all ocean basins, specifically focusing on underexplored regions.
  3. Build fundamental ecological understanding of deep-sea ecosystems including ecosystem services delivered by the deep seas, and flows of benefits to society.
  4. Increase use of deep ocean knowledge through development of effective ‘knowledge to end-user’ pathways, including use of decision-support tools in modelling deep sea management scenarios.

Who is running the programme?

The Programme is a cooperative, it is run by its members and any researcher can become a member (see ‘how can I get involved’ below). The blueprint for the programme was developed by members of the DOSI Decade working group, which has a fully open membership, the SCOR Decade working group, which has a closed membership that was selected according to SCOR working group rules on submission of the working group proposal to SCOR; and the Challenger Society’s Deep Sea Special Interest working group, which has an open membership but is essentially a UK focused working group. The programme was successfully proposed by DOSI as an official Ocean Decade Programme, and moving forward will work closely with the DOSI network, which shares many of the same aims. The existing DOSI working group structure and membership provides an established, important and effective ‘knowledge to end-user’ pathway that will be integral to the Programme. Developing and running a programme of this magnitude requires dedicated persons who are willing to help make it happen. If you think you can help and can see the value of a dedicated global deep-sea biology programme, then please join in (see below).

An outcrop of rock makes a perfect home for many different cold water coral species. Image courtesy of the NERC funded Deep Links Project (University of Plymouth, Oxford University, JNCC, BGS).

What stage is the programme at?

The Programme has been formally submitted to the IOC for endorsement as an official Ocean Decade Programme. REV Ocean have partnered with the programme and will support Challenger 150 through the Deep Ocean Training (DOT) initiative, offering 18 days ship time per year for capacity building in deep-sea science. The Schmidt Ocean Institute, have also partnered with the programme with lead PIs of 9 research cruises contributing to the Programme objectives. In addition, researchers across the world have already committed to joining the programme to help create a truly integrated global research effort, and a lasting legacy that informs researchers, environmental managers, policy makers, and the wider public for decades to come. Find out more about the programme and next steps in the video below.

Why should I join in?

The ‘business-as-usual’ model of disconnected deep-sea research effort has resulted in: 1) a biased view of the deep sea (data are overwhelmingly drawn from the North Atlantic and Pacific, and the EEZ of economically developed nations), 2) a poorly diversified and geographically biased work force, 3) an inability to address the questions we have about the deep sea at the scale necessary to answer them, and 4) poor integration of research into decision-making. Challenger 150 is an effort to move beyond business-as-usual to a coordinated global programme that works within the constraints of existing available funding mechanisms. It is a research jigsaw puzzle that the global community work on together, each team or project putting a piece in place such that at the end of the decade we have built our complete picture, or in this case vision of what we are trying to achieve. To participate means to be part of something bigger, to help make a change, to support others to join in, and to be supported in your own endeavours.

A close-up image of a bamboo coral called Acanella arbuscula taken from 1000m deep. Image courtesy of the NERC funded Deep Links Project (University of Plymouth, Oxford University, JNCC, BGS).

How can I get involved in Challenger 150?

Anyone can get involved in Challenger 150 and the level of involvement is up to you. We ask all those who wish to engage to agree to some basic principles. If you can agree to those then we ask that you sign up to the DOSI Decade working group email list in order to receive information on the programme, participate in its running, and benefit from support offered. The programme itself is still evolving, and will continue to do so as more people join and help shape it.

Find out more

Find out more about Challenger 150 at the programme website.