SAMS has lead­ing role in Arc­tic re­search pro­ject

The Oban Times - - News -

SCOT­LAND is set to lead the UK’s Arc­tic re­search over the next five years through ma­jor projects worth more than £ 5 mil­lion, led by the Scottish As­so­ci­a­tion for Ma­rine Science (SAMS).

The Dun­beg-based in­sti­tute won two of the four ma­jor re­search grants in the Nat­u­ral En­vi­ron­ment Re­search Coun­cil’s (NERC) £10 mil­lion Chang­ing Arc­tic Ocean pro­gramme. SAMS re­searchers are also in­volved in the other two projects, led by Leeds and Liverpool uni­ver­si­ties.

The Arc­tic has seen the most dra­matic changes in cli­mate over the past few decades, with ice melt­ing at a quicker rate each year be­cause of rapid warm­ing. While the daily av­er­age global tem­per­a­ture rose by 0.55 de­gree Cel­sius from 1979–2000, the tem­per­a­ture in the Arc­tic rose by 6.42 de­grees Cel­sius for the same pe­riod.

The av­er­age Arc­tic sea ice cover for Novem­ber 2016 set a record low, lead­ing to sug­ges­tions that sea ice cover could be at a tip­ping point, from which the re­gion may not re­cover.

The two SAMS projects, Arc­tic PRIZE (www.sams.ac.uk/ arc­ticprize) and DIAPOD (www.sams.ac.uk/diapod) aim to help un­der­stand these changes and how they will af­fect the cli­mate, ocean prop­er­ties, ma­rine life and food stocks across the north­ern hemi­sphere. They will ben­e­fit from SAMS’ ex­per­tise in ma­rine bi­ol­ogy, phys­i­cal oceanog­ra­phy and ma­rine ro­bot­ics.

DIAPOD, led by Pro­fes­sor David Pond, will ex­am­ine the ef­fect of a warm­ing Arc­tic Ocean on the cope­pod Calanus, a small shrimp-like an­i­mal that is a vi­tal source of food for seals and whales and com­mer­cially-im­por­tant fish but is be­lieved to be re­duc­ing in num­ber.

Arc­tic PRIZE is led by Dr Finlo Cot­tier, who holds an ad­junct pro­fes­sor­ship at Univer­sity of Tromsø (UiT). The pro­ject will seek to es­tab­lish a year-round pic­ture of the Arc­tic ecosys­tem, us­ing ro­botic sys­tems based at SAMS’ NERC-funded Scottish Ma­rine Ro­bot­ics fa­cil­ity to col­lect data dur­ing the rel­a­tively un­ex­plored po­lar win­ter.

SAMS di­rec­tor Prof Ni­cholas Owens said: ‘ SAMS is syn­ony­mous with re­search in the Arc­tic, a re­gion that is giv­ing us a win­dow into the pace and ef­fects of cli­mate change.

‘We hope that Arc­tic PRIZE and DIAPOD will give a unique in­sight into the ex­tent of these changes and leave us bet­ter in­formed about how we can help nations across the north­ern hemi­sphere pre­pare for the fu­ture.'

SAMS will host the UK Arc­tic science con­fer­ence in Oban from Tues­day to Thurs­day, Septem­ber 19 to 21 this year.

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