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PML’s ocean acidification work shortlisted for the 2023 NERC Impact Awards

16 October 2023

The awards “shine a spotlight on the UK science at the heart of the responsible management of our planet”.
Carlos Grury Santos | Unsplash

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is thrilled to share the news that its work in the area of ocean acidification has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2023 Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Impact Awards.
The Awards are designed to celebrate NERC-funded scientists whose work has had a big impact on the environment, economy or society in the UK or internationally.
PML’s research ‘Spurring global action against ocean acidification’, led by PML’s Director of Science Prof. Stephen Widdicombe, has been recognised for raising awareness of the potential consequences of rising ocean acidity, which impacts biodiversity, fisheries, aquaculture, food security, tourism and marine-based economies.
This work has been highlighted for having “driven international policy change and provided crucial data to the UK government to contribute to its compliance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on minimizing ocean acidification.”
Professor Stephen Widdicombe, Director of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and lead scientist for PML’s ocean acidification research, commented:
“We are deeply honoured to be shortlisted for this respected award for our work on ocean acidification, alongside so many other excellent scientific endeavours.”
“PML has been at the forefront of ocean acidification research since the term was first coined two decades ago. Our activities have ranged from long-term monitoring field and laboratory experiments, modelling and satellite observations through to co-ordination of international efforts to address the issue, policy advising, advanced training and public engagement.”
“This wonderful news comes just weeks after the UK Secretary of State Therese Coffey has announced £120k funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to support us becoming the secretariat for the Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability (OARS) programme which is a formally endorsed United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development programme.”
“This is the 2nd time running that PML has been recognised by the NERC Impact Awards, as our scientists were  a major part of the microplastic research team that won in 2018; the last time these awards were presented.This further highlights PML’s dedication to impactful science that is of benefit to the environment and society."

The shortlisting and judging for the awards has been undertaken by independent panels of academic, industry and government figures and public engagement professionals. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum on 29 November 2023.

Professor Peter Liss, Interim Executive Chair of NERC, speaking on the NERC Impact Awads themselves:  

“The Impact Awards provides us with the opportunity to recognise the thriving community of people working hard to reveal the state of the environment and how we can respond."   

“We received outstanding enthusiasm for this year’s competition. The impacts of all entries are far-reaching. I was impressed to see that the 10 shortlisted entries address some of today’s most pressing issues, such as rapid biodiversity loss, climate change and the impact of the environment on human health. I look forward to celebrating the contributions of our shortlisted teams and individual researchers at the final stage of the Impact Awards in November”.

The full shortlist research is:
  • Spurring global action against ocean acidification. Team led by Professor Stephen Widdicombe, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Shaping England’s new biodiversity net gain policy. Dr Sophus zu Ermgassen University of Oxford
  • Protecting subsea global telecommunications networks. Team led by Dr Mike Clare, National Oceanography Centre
  • Using wastewater to monitor the nation’s health: onwards from COVID-19. Team led by Professor Davey Jones, Bangor University
  • Whales and walruses from space: using satellite imagery for conservation. Dr Hannah Cubaynes, British Antarctic Survey
  • Bringing together citizen scientists and regulators to monitor the River Wye and beyond. Dr Liz Bagshaw, Cardiff University (now University of Bristol), Dr Roo Perkins and Elle von Benzon, Cardiff University
  • Tackling the human and financial cost of flooding. Professor Paul Bates, University of Bristol, and team at Fathom
  • Protecting satellites with daily space weather forecasts. Team led by Professor Richard Horne, British Antarctic Survey
  • Speeding up climate change simulations to tackle global warming. Professor Piers Forster and Dr Chris Smith, University of Leeds
  • Protecting sensitive species and habitats in Antarctica and beyond. Professor Richard Phillips, Dr Susie Grant, Dr Kevin Hughes and Dr Jennifer Jackson, British Antarctic Survey
The winners of each category (economic, societal and environmental impact) will receive £12,000, with runners-up receiving £7,000 to further the impacts of their research. The finalist judged to have had the biggest impact will be the overall winner and will receive £20,000.  

Related information

2023 Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Impact Awards

Ocean acidification research at PML

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