Yellow Data Buoy in the sea

£22M invested in major research programme on the Atlantic Ocean


A new £22 million research programme will investigate the impacts of climate change and human activities on the Atlantic Ocean, from the surface to the deep seabed.

This ambitious multi-disciplinary programme aims to provide data, models and technology to help understand the impacts of climate change and human activities on the Atlantic Ocean environment, and inform action, such as the UK’s commitments to international observing programmes. The programme will involve developing and deploying cutting-edge marine robotics, combined with ocean modelling and satellite remote sensing.
Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the new five-year marine research programme, Climate Linked Atlantic Sector Science (CLASS), will be delivered in partnership by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Scottish Association for Marine Science, Marine Biological Association, and Sea Mammal Research Unit.
Prof. Icarus Allen, Director of Science at PML and leader of the PML component of CLASS, commented: “Through the involvement of PML, the programme will support key long-term observations of the Atlantic Ocean, including the Atlantic Meridional Transect and the Western Channel Observatory, development of our ecosystem models, and our ability to understand the oceans by observing them from space.”

“We will use data from NERC’s long-term and large-scale observations to identify how natural change alters the structure and diversity of marine life in the water and on the sea floor, over time periods from months to decades and from local to oceanic spatial scales. This will help us to understand how human impacts and natural drivers combine to modify ocean ecosystem structure and function, across variable scales of time and space, and how our ability to derive benefits from the ocean may alter in the future.”

Prof. Angela Hatton, NOC Director of Science and Technology and Chair of NERC’s Science Board, is Principal Investigator of the CLASS project. She said “The changes occurring in the Atlantic have a significant influence on global climate and a direct impact on the UK. CLASS will bring together the combined expertise from key UK marine science institutes, and build on their contribution to global ocean observing systems, to deliver an integrated programme evaluating the impact of climate change, the effectiveness of conservation measures, and predicting the future evolution of marine environments."

CLASS forms part of NERC’s National Capability Science - Single Centre (NCS-SC) portfolio. The programme has already hit the ground running, and this summer has delivered large-scale research expeditions to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) and the Haig Fras and The Canyons Marine Conservation Zones off southwest UK.
Further details on the CLASS project will soon be available on a new website.  To find out more about NERC’s National Capability Science, visit:

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