iAtlantic project about to set sail

[from Deep-Sea Life Vol 13]

Murray Roberts

University of Edinburgh, UK

On 1 June 2019 a new international 4-year project begins work to carry out an integrated ecosystem assessment of Atlantic deep and open ocean ecosystems in space and time. iAtlantic is funded through a €10.6M European Horizon2020 grant bringing together 33 partners from Europe, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Canada and the USA plus a wider network of associated partners.

iAtlantic takes an interdisciplinary scientific approach to unifying efforts to better inform sustainable management and enhance human and observational capacity throughout the Atlantic. By integrating ecosystem data with major circulation pathways connecting North and South Atlantic and linking climatic data and forecasts, iAtlantic will give a new systematic approach to jointly assess and tackle policy challenges.

Ocean physics and ecosystem connectivity will enable high-resolution oceanographic hindcasts and forecasts of future circulation together with ground-truthing genomic data. Advances in eDNA genomics, machine learning and autonomous underwater robotics will be combined with existing data to provide step-changes in predictive habitat mapping approaches to expand species and biodiversity observations from local to basin scales. Ecological timeseries, including innovative palaeoceanographic and genomic reconstructions, will provide an unprecedented view of the impacts of climate change on Atlantic ecosystems. Assessment of the impact of multiple stressors will identify key drivers of ecosystem change and tipping points.

iAtlantic uses 12 Atlantic regions in the deep sea and open ocean that are of international conservation significance and of interest to Blue Economy and Blue Growth sectors. Innovative and efficient data handling and data publishing approaches will establish a better integrated Atlantic Ocean observation data community. Capacity and cooperation between science, industry and policymakers bordering the Atlantic will be boosted by joint multi-disciplinary research cruises, enhanced S Atlantic monitoring arrays, scientific training events, iAtlantic Fellowships and industry focused workshops. Results will be used to stimulate dialogue with stakeholders and critically assess current ocean governance frameworks generating increased capacity for Marine Spatial Planning and enabling Blue Growth scenarios to be rapidly evaluated.

iAtlantic is coordinated by Murray Roberts at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

For more information please contact i-atlantic@ed.ac.uk

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