NERC invests £22 million in major research programme on the Atlantic Ocean

2 August 2018

A new £22 million research programme will investigate the impacts of climate change and human activities on the Atlantic Ocean, from the surface to the deep seabed.

Montage of images from the CLASS project

Commissioned by NERC, the new five-year marine research programme, Climate Linked Atlantic Sector Science (CLASS), will be delivered in partnership by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Marine Biological Association, and Sea Mammal Research Unit.

This ambitious multi-disciplinary programme aims to provide data, models and technology to help understand the impacts on the Atlantic Ocean environment, and inform action such as the UK's commitments to international observing programmes. The programme will involve developing and deploying cutting-edge marine robotics, combined with ocean modelling and satellite remote sensing.

Professor Angela Hatton, NOC Director of Science & Technology and Chair of NERC's Science Board, is principal investigator of the CLASS project. She said:

The changes occurring in the Atlantic have a significant influence on global climate and a direct impact on the UK. CLASS will bring together the combined expertise from key UK marine science institutes, and build on their contribution to global ocean observing systems, to deliver an integrated programme evaluating the impact of climate change, the effectiveness of conservation measures, and predicting the future evolution of marine environments.

Autosub Long Range autonomous vehicle

Autosub Long Range autonomous vehicles will be used as part of this ambitious research programme

CLASS forms part of NERC's National Capability Science - Single Centre portfolio. The programme has already hit the ground running and this summer has delivered large-scale research expeditions to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain and the Haig Fras and The Canyons Marine Conservation Zones off south-west UK.

To engage the UK marine science community, there will be town hall meetings at key community events including the 2018 Challenger Society conference, where there will also be a CLASS project stand. These activities will provide opportunities for the research community to develop collaborative projects and benefit from the opportunities provided by CLASS.

Professor Hatton added:

We will create effective engagement activities ensuring academic partners have transparent access to NERC marine science capability through graduate training partnerships and access to shipborne, lab based and autonomous facilities, and modelling capabilities.

Further details on the CLASS project will soon be available on a new dedicated website.

Find out more about NERC's national capability science.


Further information

Mary Goodchild
NERC External Communications Manager
01793 411939
07710 147485


Notes

1. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

2. The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), based at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, is Scotland's largest and oldest independent marine science organisation, dedicated to delivering marine science for a healthy and sustainable marine environment through research, education and engagement with society. It is a charitable organisation (Scottish Registered Charity number SC009206) and an academic partner within the University of the Highlands & Islands.

3. Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is an independent, impartial provider of scientific research and contract services relating to the marine environment. PML focuses on understanding how marine ecosystems function, their role in the Earth system and how we can protect this important environment for the prosperity of future generations. A truly interdisciplinary marine research centre, PML delivers highly innovative research and solutions for national and international marine and coastal programmes. PML's research is timely, highly relevant to UK and international societal needs and has at its core the mission to contribute to issues concerned with understanding global change and the health and sustainability of marine ecosystems.

4. The Marine Biological Association (MBA) is a professional body for marine scientists with some 1,500 members world-wide. Since 1884 the MBA has established itself as a leading marine biological research organisation contributing to the work of several Nobel Laureates and over 170 Fellows of the Royal Society. In 2013 the MBA was awarded a Royal Charter in recognition of its long and eminent history and its status within the field of marine biology. The award strengthens the association's role in promoting marine biology as a discipline and in representing the interests of the marine biological community.