iAtlantic is a new multidisciplinary research programme seeking to assess the health of deep-sea ecosystems across the full span of the Atlantic Ocean. Funded by a €10.6M grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the ambitious iAtlantic project will – for the first time – undertake an ocean-wide approach to understanding the factors that control the distribution, stability and vulnerability of deep-sea ecosystems. Work will span the full scale of the Atlantic basin, from the tip of Argentina in the south to Iceland in the north, and from the east coasts of USA and Brazil to the western margins of Europe and Africa. Central to the project’s success is the international collaboration between scientists throughout the Atlantic region, with sharing of expertise, equipment, infrastructure, data and personnel placed at the forefront of iAtlantic’s approach. Prof. Andrew K. Sweetman together with Dr. Marina Silva from the Instituto do Mar in the Azores co-lead Work Package 4 of iAtlantic. WP4 is assessing how multiple stressors from climate change, deep-sea mining and deep-sea trawling will impact key benthic and pelagic ecosystems and species (sponges, cold-water corals, jellyfish) throughout the Atlantic basin.
Project website: http://iatlantic.eu
One Ocean Hub (2019-2024)
The One Ocean Hub (OOH) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). It aims to transform our response to the urgent challenges facing our ocean. Its research seeks to bridge current disconnections in law, science and policy and integrate governance frameworks to balance multiple ocean uses with conservation. It strives to empower the communities, women and children, most reliant upon the oceans, to inform decisions based on multiple values and knowledge systems. The aim of the project is to predict, harness and share equitably environmental, socioeconomic and cultural benefits from ocean conservation and sustainable use. The Hub specifically addresses the challenges and opportunities of South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Fiji and Solomon Islands, and will share knowledge at regional (South Pacific, Africa and Caribbean) and international levels. The One Ocean Hub is led by the University of Strathclyde with 24 research partners, and 35 project partner organisations. The DSEB group is involved in Research Program 3 and 4 of the OOH, and is undertaking research to explore the role of mangroves in fisheries and key biogeochemical cycles along the coast of Ghana, and provide much needed information about deep-sea biodiversity and ecosystem processes in the deep seas off of South Africa. This work will be involving multiple field trips to Ghana in 2021 and a deep-sea research cruise to the S. Atlantic aboard the RV Discovery in early 2022 with the ROV ISIS and the DSEB lander fleet. A PhD and post-doc position will soon become available in this project to work on these exciting topics.
DeepGreen baseline project to assess seafloor biogeochemistry and benthic ecosystem processes in the NORI-D license area of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (2020-2023)
The DeepGreen baseline project is a multi-million pound project aimed at gathering baseline information about the marine ecosystem in the NORI-D license area of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, prior to the start of polymetallic nodule mining. Prof. Andrew K. Sweetman leads Work Package 1 of this project. This WP will measure seafloor biogeochemistry and undertake in situ experiments to parameterise a variety of benthic ecosystem processes (e.g., respiration, C-cycling, bioturbation) during 3 deep-sea research cruises starting in autumn 2020. The wider DeepGreen baseline program involves researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (USA), The University of Leeds (UK), National Oceanography Centre (UK), Natural History Museum (UK), University of Gothenburg (Sweden), Fathom Pacific (Australia), CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. (USA) and Florida State University (USA).
DEEPCCZ (Ecosystem-wide survey of the deep seafloor biome to help assess and manage the impacts of polymetallic nodule mining) project (2017-2021)
The international mining community is planning to develop deep-sea mining as an industry. One target area for mining is the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the central Pacific Ocean. Here, the seafloor at 4000-5000m depth is covered in polymetallic nodules. However, the seafloor environment in the CCZ is extremely poorly studied and very little is known about what lives there and how the ecosystem functions as a whole. The DSEB group is part of an international team funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, that is currently exploring benthic biodiversity and ecosystem processes at the abyssal seafloor and on seamounts in the 3 westernmost APEIs (Areas of Particular Environmental Interest) in the western, oligotrophic CCZ (green stars in the figure below show the location of the 3 APEIs that are being studied).
The team is comprised of lead scientists and their teams from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (USA), the Natural History Museum (UK), the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), the University of Montana (USA) and Hawaii Pacific University (USA).
MERCES (Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas) project (2016-2020)
The MERCES project is focused on the restoration of different degraded marine habitats, with the aim of: 1) assessing the potential of different technologies and approaches; 2) quantifying the returns in terms of ecosystems services and their socio-economic impacts; 3) defining the legal-policy and governance frameworks needed to optimize the effectiveness of the different restoration approaches. Prof. Andrew K. Sweetman leads Work Package 4 of MERCES together with Dr. Telmo Morato and Dr. Marine Silva from the Instituto do Mar in the Azores, which is undertaking experiments to test the success of different restoration techniques in a variety of deep-sea habitats including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and high-latitude fjords.
Project website: http://www.merces-project.eu