A large scale international investigative program has been put in motion to analyze the condition of the Atlantic Ocean. Project iAtlantic is the largest program to run that the Earth’s second biggest ocean has ever seen. The Edinburgh University orchestrated study includes over 30 partners funded by the European Union.
The researchers will operate a wide spectrum of advanced technology to inspect great depths of the ocean between the Arctic and South America. The hope is that the scans will help them to determine the consequences of climate change on plants and animals. Physics, genomics, machine learning, and other niche aspects will be used as they construct a digital map of the ocean’s ecosystems. The findings will assist governments in choosing which establishments of the Atlantic are maintainable and reasonable. Refuges will also be noted where species under threat might have an opportunity to continue their survival.
An iAtlantic program coordinator, Professor Murray Roberts from Edinburgh University, wants to know what the future will have in store for sea-life such as black coral, the deep-sea red crab, and the deep-sea skate’s egg (mermaid’s purse).
Climate change and ecosystems
“What will happen to these animals in the future as the Atlantic changes?” says Roberts. “As it gets warmer, as it gets more acidic and also, in some areas, as it runs out of breath. Because the Atlantic – like many ocean basins in the world – is being deoxygenated, it’s losing the oxygen that is vital to life.” This effect is due to climate change. Roughly 90 percent of the planet’s global warming has been absorbed by the oceans.
The science team will be concentrating on the ecosystems of a dozen sectors, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near Iceland, the chilling depths from Angola to the Congo Lobe, the Sargasso Sea, and the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain near Brazil.
The €40 million funded project will span a four year period. “We’ll be looking at humpbacks, we’ll be looking at plankton, we’ll be looking at corals,” says Roberts. “And then we’ll be working in terms of how the physics of the ocean is changing. We can then understand where the ecosystems are tipping from one state into another; where we’re going to have a real problem in the future.”