SAMS at the fore­front of At­lantic re­search project

The Oban Times - - News -

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.’

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