UCL Department of Geography


€10M Atlantic survey to assess ocean’s health

26 June 2019

UCL Geography team to examine impact of past ocean changes

€10M Atlantic survey to assess ocean’s health

On 17-20 June, Dr David Thornalley and Dr Peter Spooner (UCL Geography) attended a kick-off meeting in Edinburgh for the new iAtlantic project, funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme.

This is a €10 million, four-year project to analyse the Atlantic Ocean’s ecosystems, from Iceland to South America, involving researchers from 33 institutions across Europe, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Canada and the US.

The project will provide unprecedented insights into how climate change is affecting plant and animal life in the Atlantic. It will also aid in the understanding of the impacts of commercial activities including deep-sea mining, fishing and oil and gas extraction. The latest technologies will be used to assess the ocean’s health, aiming to help governments create improved protection policies.

Huge quantities of data will be collected during 32 research expeditions, using a multinational fleet of vessels travelling the length and breadth of the Atlantic. Marine robotics and imaging technology will be used to develop mapping tools to explore deep-sea habitats.

The UCL team will use geological archives to examine the impact of past ocean changes on marine ecosystems. They will also be trialling the novel use of ancient DNA, preserved in seafloor ocean sediments, to reconstruct a more complete picture of past marine life.

Providing critical insights into the impact of climate change on the Atlantic, iAtlantic will identify key drivers of ecosystem change and areas of the ocean most at risk. The work will also help determine the resilience of animals and their habitats in the Atlantic against pollution and other human activities.

For more information, see the BBC news item.