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Western Channel Observatory (WCO)

Plymouth Quest and data buoy

Active project

Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) - National Capability
Principal Investigator: Dr Tim Smyth
Other participants from PML: Amanda Beesley, Andrea McEvoy, Caroline Louise McNeill, Elaine Fileman, Carolyn Harris, Claire Widdicombe, Dr Ana Queirós, Dr Angus Atkinson, Dr Gavin Tilstone, Dr Glen Tarran, Dr Helen Findlay, Dr Jacqueline Maud, Dr James Fishwick, Dr Ming-Xi Yang, Dr Ruth Airs, Dr Tim Smyth, Dr Tom Bell, Dr Vassilis Kitidis, Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente, Malcolm Woodward, Joana Nunes, Professor Steve Widdicombe.

The Western Channel Observatory (WCO) is an oceanographic time-series and marine biodiversity reference site in the Western English Channel. In-situ measurements are undertaken weekly at coastal station L4 and fortnightly at open shelf station E1 using our research vessels and that of the Marine Biological Association (MBA). The WCO measures several factors crucial to the functioning of the marine ecosystem, such as light, temperature, salinity and nutrients.  

The time-series analysis provided by the WCO enables us to understand the physical, chemical and biological processes in the ocean, whilst identifying long-term trends and predicting future changes. The resulting data is not only valuable to scientific understanding, but also addresses wider societal concerns, such as sustainability, climate change and marine ecosystems.

Complemented by our recognised excellence in other observational disciplines, ecosystem modelling and satellite remote sensing science, the measurements taken from the monitoring stations are helping us to begin to disentangle the complexity of the marine ecosystem.

See our Data buoys page for further information about our stations.

You can also read more and view an interactive virtual tour about our Penlee Point Observatory here

The Western Channel Observatory is a proposed full station contributing to the UK-Integrated Carbon Observation System.

Map of WCO stations


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