SAMS at the forefront of Atlantic research project
A DUNSTAFFNAGE science facility is at the forefront of a major new research project in the North Atlantic.
The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) has a key role to play in the ATLAS (a transtlantic assessment) initiative by carrying out modelling work to help calculate currents, salinity and temperature across parts of the ocean.
SAMS staff will also be taking water samples to study nutrients and how they are varying, as little is known about the subject.
The ATLAS project is also taking advantage of SAMS moorings sited across the sub-polar North Atlantic and SAMS is contributing oceanographic expertise and Seaglider autonomous underwater vehicles.
ATLAS, which began earlier this month and has nine million euros in funding, is the largest and most ambitious assessment of deep-sea Atlantic ecosystems ever undertaken.
The launch of ATLAS marks the beginning of a series of expeditions involving at least 25 research cruises and hundreds of scientists from 10 European countries, the USA and Canada, working collaboratively over the next four years.
ATLAS project coordinator Professor J Murray Roberts, from Heriot-Watt University, said: ‘ The North Atlantic was the birthplace of deep-sea biology and the cradle of oceanography. It’s the place we should know best, but it’s only over the past 20 years that we’ve uncovered just how varied and vulnerable the Atlantic’s deep- sea habitats really are.’
ATLAS will strive to improve understanding of the complexity of deep-sea ecosystems and to predict future shifts and vulnerabilities of these ecosystems and their associated species, including those that are new to science. To do this requires a multi- disciplinary team of scientists and an integrated approach to tackling the problem.
ATLAS also intends to perform outreach activities to raise awareness of the importance and vulnerability of the Atlantic ecosystem and the impact humans are having on the ocean environment. This will contribute to a major international effort for ‘ocean literacy’ to make all European citizens aware of the importance of the oceans on everyday life across the planet and what actions they can take to help protect them.’