Scientists at the University of Liverpool are embarking on a series of research cruises to understand the impact of climate warming on the ecosystems of the seas surrounding North West Europe.
The 3.2 million study focuses on the role that shelf-seas the seas surrounding continental land masses - play in the cycling of carbon and nutrients, and how warming of the seas might affect it. The study will be carried out on RRS Discovery, the Natural and Environmental Research Council's (NERC) new research vessel as well as other research and commercial vessels over a one-year period.
The shelf seas around the UK, which include the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, Irish Sea and seas around Scotland, have a variety of uses including oil and gas extraction, shipping, telecom and power cables, leisure and recreation, defence, fisheries, aquaculture, raw materials and renewable energy.
Liverpool's scientists are leading a cross-UK group of universities and research centres. The team will collect data from across the seas surrounding North West Europe to further understanding of the link between the physical and biogeochemical processes which take place in shelf seas and changes to the global carbon and nutrients cycle. They will measure levels of carbons and nutrients across the NW European shelf seas as well as the transportation of greenhouse gases between the shelf sea and the atmosphere, and the amount of carbon that is transported to the adjacent deep ocean.
Despite accounting for only 5% of the global ocean area, shelf seas are thought to be responsible for about 30% of the annual absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean, therefore playing a critical role in the ocean's ecosystems and the regulation of our climate. Their economic importance is significant, providing 90% of global fish catches and about 15% of the ocean's plant growth.
Professor Jonathan Sharples, from the School of Environmental Sciences, s
|Contact: Sarah Stamper|
University of Liverpool