SAMS has leading role in Arctic research project
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.