Scientists play key role in assessing future threats to Atlantic

Plymouth’s world-leading ocean scientists will play a key role in an international project that aims to map and assess the current and future risks posed across the Atlantic Ocean.

Funded by an €11.5million grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, Mission Atlantic will be the first initiative to develop and systematically apply Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) at the Atlantic basin scale.

The unique approach will engage scientists, stakeholders and resource managers, integrating all components of the ecosystem – including climate change, natural hazards and human activities – into the decision-making process.

In this way, managers and policy makers can use scientific evidence to balance the need for environmental protection with secure, sustainable development, thereby ensuring a positive future for the Atlantic Ocean and its peoples.

The project comprises more than 30 partners from both sides of the Atlantic, including the Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the University of Plymouth.

Emphasising the city’s status among the world’s foremost locations for ocean science, the three city bodies will receive more than €1million and use existing and new technology to monitor and assess pelagic and seafloor habitats.

The MBA will be involved in mapping and assessing the present and future status of Atlantic marine ecosystems under multiple stressors such as climate change and over-fishing. Scientists at the MBA will be using data collected by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey to map habitat changes seen over the last 60 years in response to climate warming.

Professor Martin Edwards, from the MBA, said:

“The CPR Survey programme is based in Plymouth and has collected over 60 years of plankton data in the North Atlantic and Arctic. The MBA is pleased to be part of this collaborative project which shows the importance of the CPR time series in better understanding marine ecosystem change in the Atlantic resulting from human pressures such as climate change.”

Dr Jorn Bruggeman, Senior Marine Ecosystem Modeller at PML, added:

“We are delighted to be part of this Horizon 2020 project and to work with partners from four continents on improving our understanding of the Atlantic Ocean. PML will lead the work package titled ‘Dynamics of ecosystem state and resources’, which will deliver model projections of the future state of the Atlantic at unprecedented physical and biological detail.”

Marine Institute

Representing 3000 staff, researchers and students, the University of Plymouth’s Marine Institute is the first and largest such institute in the UK.

We provide the external portal to our extensive pool of world-leading experts and state-of-the-art facilities, enabling us to understand the relationship between the way we live, the seas that surround us and the development of sustainable policy solutions.

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