Atlantic Interactions | Air Centre
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The AIR Centre

The ambition of the AIR Centre is to be a long-term platform for North-South, South-North, East-West and West-East collaboration in the Atlantic towards a holistic, integrative and systemic approach to knowledge on space, oceans, climate change impacts, energy and data sciences, while fostering an inclusive perspective to science, technology and economic development. The AIR Centre is meant to become a knowledge and data driven network organisation, enabling innovative work through bottom-up initiatives that will face new and greater challenges and R&D gaps. Additionally, the AIR Centre intends to be inclusive, by promoting the development of projects aligned with the S&T priorities of the different research partners, which, to a certain extent, are at diverse stages of development.


The ambition to be a long-term platform for collaboration along and across the Atlantic deserves a special reference, as usually existing collaboration between governments, companies or research organizations are developed within projects, which do not provide conditions for the collaboration to continue after their end. A continuous platform for collaboration is essential to develop a long-term vision on the common challenges that the countries along and across the Atlantic face, and to develop strong links between the relevant stakeholders who are required to address these challenges and possible solutions with confidence and with success.


The AIR Centre aims at working for the benefit of people living on the margins of the Atlantic by addressing challenges that are common to different regions or countries and by promoting projects that require the transregional and/or transnational dimension that the AIR Centre can provide. A good example is the presence of plastics and microplastics in the ocean, its impact on human life and the identification of mitigation measures. This requires the observation and numerical simulation of the entire Atlantic Ocean. The implementation of the required mitigation measures implies, among others, new legislation and a change in the behavior of the population on the two sides and two hemispheres of the Atlantic. The AIR Centre is a unique facilitator not only to develop the science required to address the problem, but also to effectively disseminate the results among the governments and wider population.


Another relevant ambition for the AIR Centre is to work together with funding bodies, so that the identification of projects is aligned also with the priorities of S&T national and regional funding agencies, for science driven projects, and the priorities of the multilateral banks (BAfD, BID, BEI, WB) for projects with socioeconomic impact.


The AIR Centre Steering Committee and Executive Committee (ExCo) were created in November 2017 by the Florianopolis Declaration in Brazil. Their mandate is to set-up the AIR Centre until November 2018 as a private non-for-profit association under the Portuguese law and to make it evolve to an international scientific network organisation in a later phase. At the present stage, six months after the Florianopolis Declaration, several important milestones have been attained:


  • The definition of a R&D agenda on “Atlantic Interactions” including a Basic Scientific Program and a Specific Thematic Program through consultation with different stakeholders in Brazil, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Spain, Portugal, USA, UK and Norway;


  • The setup of a non-for-profit association to promote the AIR Centre under the Portuguese law with financial support from Portugal and the setup of a support team to assist the Steering Committee and Executive Committee in their mission;


  • The attraction of partners in countries not yet formally involved in the AIR Centre to promote joint initiatives, such as from the USA, UK and Norway, as well as relevant international organizations such as the GEO Blue Planet, UNOOSA and World Bank;


  • The promotion of MoUs between national and regional S&T funding agencies to support projects within the scope of the AIR Centre, and the understanding that initial projects should focus on mobility of researchers to strength the network and prepare better projects to be developed in 2019.


The AIR Centre’s Basic Scientific Program is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, namely SDGs 1, 2, 7, 11, 13 and 14 and includes S&T topics as different as resilient cities & coastal areas, invasive species & loss of biodiversity, satellite and in-situ observation technologies and data integration, offshore aquaculture, ocean litter or global energy interconnections and sustainable energy systems.


The AIR Centre´s Specific Thematic Program consist of crosscutting initiatives that support the Basic Scientific Program and include:


  • The AIR_DataNet, a supercomputing network of facilities and expertise supporting advanced and complex simulation models of the ocean and atmosphere and large sets of data;


  • The Atlantic Data Cube and Atlantic GEOSS, two complementary data access tools focused on the Atlantic Ocean;


  • The Atlantic Research Infrastructures, a tool to facilitate the access, cooperation and standardization related to the research, test and demonstration facilities available within the scope of the AIR Centre;


  • The Knowledge for All program intended to disseminate science and promote citizen science projects.


The milestones to be attained to setup the AIR Centre in the 4th High-Level Dialogues in the canary Islands in November 2018 include i) the first versions of the roadmaps for the different topics under the Basic Scientific Program and the Specific Thematic Program, ii) the detailed specification of the projects to be developed in 2019, iii) the clarification on how the different affiliated organizations contribute to the AIR Centre, iv) the agreement on the final version of the AIR Centre statutes, v) the development of the terms of reference for job description for the initial staff of the AIR Center and the selection of this staff and v) the election of the officers of the AIR Centre, so that the transition hand over to the permanent staff and officers can take place smoothly between November and the end of 2018.


The AIR Centre is being launched. Its future and success depend on our joint efforts and intelligence to make it happen in an inclusive, constructive and innovative way. Join us in this effort!


António Sarmento

Chair of the Steering Committee

22nd April 2018