Scottish Association for Marine Science

www.sams.ac.uk
Oban, United Kingdom

The Scottish Association for Marine Science is one of Europe's leading marine science research organisations and one of the oldest oceanographic organisations in the world. Sited beside Dunstaffnage Castle, in Argyll, Scotland, the institute carries out advanced research in the marine environment, including polar research in the Arctic and Antarctic. Wikipedia.

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Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 50.88K | Year: 2017

STREAM will provide a comprehensive strategic review, looking at the capabilities of robotics and autonomous systems for Long-Term Monitoring (LTM) pre-decommissioning and in perpetuity. The main impacts from this project will be the embedment of new knowledge within the industry sector, taking account of the lessons learnt within the academic community regarding the true capabilities of autonomous systems for LTM. The industry project partners are SLR, BMT Cordah, Gardline, and Marine Scotland. They will steer the strategic review, providing context with regards to the current practise and data expectations of the decommissioning community. Reviewing our current technological capabilities, this project will, in-turn, identify the knowledge gaps that restrict the adoption of autonomous technology within the sector. This valuable outcome will inform policy on environmental regulation of decommissioning operations and promote cost effective solutions for in-perpetuity environmental monitoring by offshore operators. It will also assist steering future development of this technology within the sector.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 88.62K | Year: 2016

ODaT will work with BP and Marine Scotland to scope, develop and test an innovative data layer tool. The tool will translate legacy oceanographic data into a series of maps (data layers) to inform; oil spill response and management, routine oil exploration environmental monitoring, and decision making and marine management. The tool will be supported through an internally constructed web mapping service, allowing the outputs to be integrated into BPs oil and gas standard Common Operating Picture (COP) and Marine Scotlands National Marine Plan Interactive (NMPi). Informative data layers will provide the oil and gas sector with a unique capability to access and utilise the UKs oceanographic data sets. The ability to integrate the layers into the oil and gas sector COP system will significantly increase effectiveness and impact from the project. As an outcome, the sector will be able to enhance their existing operations by basing future environmental management decisions on the best available information. The NMPi is a well-established and publicly accessible marine planning system. It is crucial that the NMPi is continually updating its content to ensure that it remains an effective public service. ODaT will broaden the NMPi content, providing an informative GIS layer based on the outputs of NERC oceanographic science programmes. This will significantly enhance the service, benefiting a wide range of marine stakeholders. Working with BP and Marine scotland, ODaT will support the key deliverables of broader ocean observation collaborations and working groups. ODaT will, in turn, act as an exemplar to the broader oceanography community, demonstrating how an innovative data tool, developed through effective knowledge transfer, can translate oceanographic data to benefit the wider marine community.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.30M | Year: 2017

Arctic PRIZE will address the core objective of the Changing Arctic Ocean Program by seeking to understand and predict how change in sea ice and ocean properties will affect the large-scale ecosystem structure of the Arctic Ocean. We will investigate the seasonally and spatially varying relationship between sea ice, water column structure, light, nutrients and productivity and the roles they play in structuring energy transfer to pelagic zooplankton and benthic megafauna. We focus on the seasonal ice zone (SIZ) of the Barents Sea - a highly productive region that is undergoing considerable change in its sea ice distribution - and target the critically important but under-sampled seasonal transition from winter into the post-bloom summer period. Of critical importance is the need to develop the predictive tools necessary to assess how the Arctic ecosystems will respond to a reducing sea ice cover. This will be achieved through a combined experimental/modelling programme. The project is embedded within international Arctic networks based in Norway and Canada and coordinated with ongoing US projects in the Pacific Arctic. Through these international research networks our proposal will have a legacy of cooperation far beyond the lifetime of the funding. The project comprises five integrated work packages. WP1 Physical Parameters: We will measure properties of the water column (temperature, salinity, turbulent fluxes, light, fluorometry) in both open water and under sea ice by deploying animal-borne tags on seals which preferentially inhabit the marginal ice zone (MIZ). We will use ocean gliders to patrol the water around the MIZ and track it as the ice retreats northwards in summer. Measurements of underwater light fields will support development of improved regional remote sensing algorithms to extend the spatial and temporal context of the proposal beyond the immediate deployment period. WP2 Nutrient Dynamics: We will undertake an extensive program of measuring inorganic and organic nutrients, their concentrations, isotopic signatures and vertical fluxes to understand the role of vertical mixing and advection (WP1) in regulating nutrient supply to PP in the surface ocean. WP3 Phytoplankton Production: We will investigate nutrient supply (WP2) and light availability (WP1) linked to sea ice affect the magnitude, timing, and composition of phytoplankton production, and the role of seasonal physiological plasticity. Through new numerical parameterisations - cross-tuned and validated using a rich array of observations - we will develop predictive skill related to biological production and its fate; resolve longstanding questions about the competing effects of increased light and wind mixing associated with sea ice loss; and therefore contribute to the international effort to project the functioning of Pan-Arctic ecosystems. WP4 Zooplankton: Zooplankton undergo vertical migrations to graze on PP at the surface. We will use acoustic instruments on moorings and AUVs, with nets and video profiles to measure the composition and behaviours of pelagic organisms in relation in light and mixing (WP1) and phytoplankton production (WP3) over the seasonal cycle of sea ice cover. The behaviours identified will be used to improve models that capture the life-history and behavioural traits of Arctic zooplankton. These models can then be used to investigate how feeding strategies of key Arctic zooplankton species may be modified during an era of reducing sea ice cover. WP5 Benthic Community: We will use an AUV equipped with camera system to acquire imagery of the large seabed-dwelling organisms to investigate how changes in sea ice duration (WP1), timing of PP (WP3) and bentho-pelagic coupling (WP4) can modify the spatial variation in benthic community composition. We will also conduct time series-studies in an Arctic fjord using a photolander system to record the seasonally varying community response to pulses of organic matter.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 76.12K | Year: 2016

The oil and gas (O&G) and commercial-fishing sectors are among the two largest stakeholders that use the UK continental shelf (UKCS), particularly the North Sea. Evidence suggests that fishermen currently target pipelines, a poorly understood activity which has multi-sector implications for decommissioning. The challenge, as identified by the partners, is: the regulator and their advisers need to understand commercial fishing practices around pipelines in order to predict the consequences of various pipeline decommissioning options to both the O&G and fishing sectors. Such an understanding will enable the identification of the most cost-effective, legislatively compliant, safe and environmentally sustainable pipeline decommissioning option. This approach will reduce costs to all stakeholders and, ultimately, the UK taxpayer. To enable exploitation of UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) oil and gas (O&G), more than 45,000 km of pipelines have been installed since the 1960s [1]. Only 2% have been decommissioned and there has been little research on the consequences of decommissioning to other industries and the environment. Many of the pipelines are reaching the end of their useful lives and need decommissioning. Unlike platforms, pipelines are not covered by the OSPAR 98/3 ban on the disposal of installations at sea [2]. Pipeline decommissioning is considered on a case-by-case basis, by comparative assessment of the options. Operators must show that any proposed strategy meets international obligations to ensure the safety of navigation and fishing, and protection of the marine environment [1]. In the UKCS, fishing is an ecologically and economically important activity[3]. Due to the overlap of the O&G and fishing industries there is inevitably physical interaction between the two, including damage to fishing gear from pipelines [4] and to pipelines from fishing gear [5]. Vessels are banned from fishing within the 500 m exclusion zone around platforms [6], but no such restrictions apply to pipelines. Anecdotal accounts of vessels targeting pipelines as fishing grounds have always existed, with vessels thought to potentially benefit by targeting fish attracted to pipelines [7,8]. In 2014, analyses jointly undertaken by SAMS and MSS quantified the extent of this interaction and found that over a third of North Sea (NS) demersal trips fish occurred within 200 m of a pipe. The choice of decommissioning strategy of the ~2500 oil and gas pipelines will therefore have implications for the fishing industry and the environment. The proposed project brings together the regulator (Department of Environment and Climate Change), their advisers (Marine Scotland Science) and representatives of the fishing and O&G sectors (Scottish Fishermens Federation and Oil and Gas UK respectively) to extend the 2014 analysis(see above) and translate it into predictions of the impact of a range of realistic decommissioning scenarios (e.g. 0 - 100 % pipeline removal, covering pipelines with rocks, pipeline-size dependent removal etc) on the fishing industry. The first stage will be to collate data on pipeline attributes (size, protective material, date of installation) and fishing behaviour around pipelines and identify hotspots of pipeline/fishing interactions by quantifying and characterising the location where pipelines are frequently crossed as fishermen move between grounds. The impact of realistic decommissioning options will then be determined. The final stage of the project is to embed this new knowledge into the relevant stakeholder community (e.g. regulators, their advisers and industry). This will be achieved via knowledge-brokering events (e.g. multi-sector workshops), via industry-publications and, directly, via the project partners themselves.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 714.49K | Year: 2017

Copepod species of the genus Calanus (Calanus hereafter) are rice grain-sized crustaceans, distant relatives of crabs and lobsters, that occur throughout the Arctic Ocean consuming enormous quantities of microscopic algae (phytoplankton). These tiny animals represent the primary food source for many Arctic fish, seabirds and whales. During early spring they gorge on extensive seasonal blooms of diatoms, fat-rich phytoplankton that proliferate both beneath the sea ice and in the open ocean. This allows Calanus to rapidly obtain sufficient fat to survive during the many months of food scarcity during the Arctic winter. Diatoms also produce one of the main marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that Calanus require to successfully survive and reproduce in the frozen Arctic waters. Calanus seasonally migrate into deeper waters to save energy and reduce their losses to predation in an overwintering process called diapause that is fuelled entirely by carbon-rich fat (lipids). This vertical lipid pump transfers vast quantities of carbon into the oceans interior and ultimately represents the draw-down of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), an important process within the global carbon cycle. Continued global warming throughout the 21st century is expected to exert a strong influence on the timing, magnitude and spatial distribution of diatom productivity in the Arctic Ocean. Little is known about how Calanus will respond to these changes, making it difficult to understand how the wider Arctic ecosystem and its biogeochemistry will be affected by climate change. The overarching goal of this proposal is to develop a predictive understanding of how Calanus in the Arctic will be affected by future climate change. We will achieve this goal through five main areas of research: We will synthesise past datasets of Calanus in the Arctic alongside satellite-derived data on primary production. This undertaking will examine whether smaller, more temperate species have been increasingly colonising of Arctic. Furthermore, it will consider how the timing of life-cycle events may have changed over past decades and between different Arctic regions. The resulting data will be used to validate modelling efforts. We will conduct field based experiments to examine how climate-driven changes in the quantity and omega-3 content of phytoplankton will affect crucial features of the Calanus life-cycle, including reproduction and lipid storage for diapause. Cutting-edge techniques will investigate how and why Calanus use stored fats to reproduce in the absence of food. The new understanding gained will be used to produce numerical models of Calanus life cycle for future forecasting. The research programme will develop life-cycle models of Calanus and simulate present day distribution patterns, the timing of life-cycle events, and the quantities of stored lipid (body condition), over large areas of the Arctic. These projections will be compared to historical data. We will investigate how the omega-3 fatty acid content of Calanus is affected by the food environment and in turn dictates patterns of their diapause- and reproductive success. Reproductive strategies differ between the different species of Calanus and this approach provides a powerful means by which to predict how each species will be impacted, allowing us to identify the winners and losers under various scenarios of future environmental changes. The project synthesis will draw upon previous all elements of the proposal to generate new numerical models of Calanus and how the food environment influences their reproductive strategy and hence capacity for survival in a changing Arctic Ocean. This will allow us to explore how the productivity and biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean will change in the future. These models will be interfaced with the UKs Earth System Model that directly feeds into international efforts to understand global feedbacks to climate change.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 249.71K | Year: 2015

Phytoplankton are free-floating plants found in marine and freshwaters that, through their photosynthetic growth, form the base of the aquatic food chain. A small subset of the phytoplankton may be harmful to human health or to human use of the ecosystem. The species that cause harm are now widely referred to as Harmful Algae with the term Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) commonly being used to describe their occurrence and effects. Some HABs can be harmful to humans through their production of biotoxins that are concentrated in the flesh of filter feeding shellfish, leading to a health risk if the shellfish are consumed by humans. Other HABs can kill farmed fish. HAB events of either type can have serious financial consequences for aquaculture. Early warning of HAB events provides a mechanism to protect human health and minimise business risk for aquaculture. Many important HABs develop offshore. Two of the most important in the UK and worldwide are the genus Dinophysis sp. that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, and the species Karenia mikimotoi that can kill farmed fish. These organisms are transported to coastal aquaculture sites by oceanic currents. For K. mikimotoi we can use satellite remote sensing to identify their offshore blooms, for Dinophysis we know the locations and times of the year that are most high risk. In this project we shall use a combination of satellite remote sensing, in situ measurement (using free floating and moored scientific instruments that measure the properties of the water column) and mathematical modelling of oceanic currents and HABs to get a better understanding of where these harmful blooms develop and under what conditions they will be transported to the coast and subsequently into the fjords where aqaculture is located. Our results will be used to improve risk assessment bulletins that are produced weekly for use by aquaculture practitioners. The new knowledge gained in this project will allow us, for the first time, to interpret modelled ocean current forecasts to provide forecasts of the likelihood of these currents carrying advective HABs to the coast. The work will also allow us to determine if on reaching the coast, water exchange will allow blooms to enter the sheltered fjords within which aquaculture is practiced. This will allow industry to better plan their husbandry and harvesting to minimise HAB risk to business and health.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 326.49K | Year: 2017

Continental shelf seas are typically less than 200m deep and can be described by the shallow ocean surrounding continental land masses. Due to their accessibility, shelf seas are commercially and economically important, with oil and gas extraction alone in UK shelf seas valued at £37B pa. Despite occupying only 7% of the surface ocean, shelf seas also play a major role in the global carbon cycle and marine ecosystem. Shelf seas are 3-4 times more productive than open-ocean, are estimated to support more than 40% of carbon sequestration and support 90% of global fish catches providing a critical food source for growing coastal populations. However, shelf seas are also exposed to climate driven and anthropogenic stress that could have a profound impact on their biological productivity, oxygen dynamics and ecosystem function. Many processes contributing to this threat are related to regions that undergo vertical stratification. This process occurs when the bottom layer of shelf seas becomes detached from the atmospherically ventilated near surface layer. In temperate shelf seas stratification predominantly occurs as solar heating outcompetes the tide and wind-driven mixing to produce a warm surface layer, resulting in seasonal stratification over large areas of the NW European shelf seas. A combination of physical detachment from the surface and increased biological oxygen consumption in the bottom layer, accentuated by the enhanced productivity that stratification also supports in the upper ocean, can result in a drastically reduced bottom layer oxygen concentration. When oxygen levels get so low, they are classified as being oxygen deficient and this can be problematic for benthic and pelagic marine organisms and have a detrimental effect on ecosystem function. Evidence of increasing seasonal oxygen deficiency in the regions of North Sea by members of the AlterEco team and a recognised global increase in the extent of shelf sea and coastal oxygen deficiency call for an urgent need to increase the spatial and temporal measurement of oxygen and a better understanding of the processes that lead to oxygen deficiency in shelf sea bottom waters. This need is severely impeded by the natural complexity of ecosystem functioning, the impact of a changing climate, connectivity between different regions of our shelf seas and large-scale external forcing from ocean and atmosphere. Current methods are severely restricted in resolving this complexity, due to the poor resolution in observational coverage, which calls for a new strategy for observing and monitoring marine ecosystem and environmental status. AlterEco seeks to address this challenge within the framework of the given call by the development of a novel monitoring framework to deliver improved understanding of key shelf sea ecosystem drivers. We will capitalise on recent UK investments in marine autonomous vehicles and planning capability to investigate an area of the North Sea known to undergo variable physical, chemical and biological conditions throughout an entire seasonal cycle, including areas identified to experience low bottom layer oxygen levels during summer months. Ocean gliders will be used to undertake repeat transects over a distance of ~150km, sufficient to capture important shelf sea features; such as fronts and eddies. The AlterEco strategy will employ small fleets of vehicles to capture these meso-scale features (typically ~100km in scale) but will also resolve sub-mesoscale variability (~100m). We will benefit from successes and lessons learnt from recent, pioneering deployments of underwater gliders and use a suite of sensors that permit high-resolution coincident measurements of key ecosystem indicators. Combining the expertise within the AlterEco team we will not only provide a new framework for marine observations that has global transferability, but also the diagnostic capability to improve understanding of shelf sea ecosystem health and function.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 119.81K | Year: 2017

Background As part of the exploitation of UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) oil and gas (O&G), more than 27,000 km of pipelines have been installed since the 1960s. To date, only 2% have been decommissioned and there has been little research on the consequences of decommissioning to other industries and the environment [1]. Over the next 6-8 years, approximately 5,600 km of pipelines will require decommissioning on the UKCS [2]. Pipeline decommissioning is considered on a case-by-case basis, by the comparative assessment of the available decommissioning options [3]. As part of the comparative assessment, operators must demonstrate to the regulator (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - BEIS) that any proposed strategy meets international obligations to ensure the safety of fishing and protection of the marine environment. In order to do so, a comprehensive evidence-base and a strategic framework for assessing pipeline decommissioning with respect to fishing and environmental interests is required. The commercial fishing industry is one of largest users of the UK continental shelf (UKCS), and it is known that there is substantial spatial overlap between pipeline infrastructure and fishing [4]. The presence of decommissioned pipelines on the seabed, without rock dump, presents a potential snagging risk to fishers, according to the type of pipeline, seabed type, fishing intensity and gear-type. The UKCS also contains a number of internationally important conservation features (habitats and species), such as those listed in the EU Habitats Directive (e.g. cold-water corals) and those that are included within designated marine protected areas. These conservation features/species (CF/S) are potentially sensitive to pipeline decommissioning as a result of physical impacts, sediment disturbances and the removal of hard substratum which provides additional habitat for the CF/S and/or protection from trawling damage. Objective This project will result in the quantification of the risks/benefits of all pipeline decommissioning options to both fishing and the environment and the integration of these risks to find the optimal decommissioning solution for each pipe (from the fisher/environmental perspective). This will be achieved by: 1. Combining and collating knowledge of species-pipeline associations gained from analysis of video footage of pipelines (collected routinely by the industry for integrity monitoring), spatial data on fishing patterns and snagging incidents, and data on the distribution and sensitivities of CF/S. 2. Developing spatial risk-layers that can be flexibly combined to evaluate and minimise the relative risks to conservation interests and fishers, across all UKCS pipelines, from all feasible decommissioning options. 3. Embedding the resulting assessment into decommissioning protocols. Impacts and beneficiaries The main beneficiaries of the project will be the UK Government, their advisors [5], fishers and the oil and gas industry who will benefit from an enhanced evidence-base that is shared across all sectors. The outputs of the project will facilitate cost-effective, rapid, consistent and transparent decision-making in relation to pipeline decommissioning. REFERENCES [1] Oil and Gas UK (2013), Decommissioning of pipelines in the North Sea region [2] Oil and Gas UK (2014), Decommissioning Insight 2014 [3] Department for Energy and Climate Change (2011), Decommissioning of Offshore Oil and Gas Installations and Pipelines under the Petroleum Act [4] PipeFish - Optimising the decommissioning of oil and gas pipelines with respect to commercial fishing at the scale of the UK continental shelf. NE/N019369/1 [5] Marine Scotland and statutory nature conservation bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural England


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 342.05K | Year: 2015

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Knowledge Transfer Partnership | Award Amount: 75.09K | Year: 2016

To implement advanced Hydrodynamic modelling in Scotlands salmon farming industry to facilitate sustainable growth and best environmental management practice, leading to enhanced resource efficiency.

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