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Science To Impact Area

Cleaner seas

The marine environment is impacted by human activities which have variable effects on the health of the ocean and its capacity to provide for us. Whilst some impacts are very visible, others are less obvious, and whilst some are benign, others are very harmful.

Our challenge here is to understand how human activities affect the marine environment and the consequences for society so that society can make rational choices about the activities we do that affect the ocean, and to develop new technologies and practical solutions to mitigate and manage pollution. 

The requirements for PML-led action are as diverse as the problem being addressed. Our stakeholder groups include international and local legislators who utilise our observations, model outputs and the expertise of our staff to interpret and advise on the complexity of marine systems under pressure. PML contributes to the activities of governmental and intergovernmental organisations who advise on the control of allochthonous inputs, conservation, management and sustainability goals. Non-governmental organisations, local authorities and tourism boards all utilise PML outputs to inform on the quality and function of water bodies used for recreation, aquaculture and other commercial activities which include the shipping industry, armed forces and port authorities. The “blue space” is a relatively recent concept which advocates that closeness to the marine environment is beneficial to health and wellbeing and therefore engenders a link between PML and public health organisations and practitioners.   

Exemplar activities which highlight how cross-disciplinary teams from PML unite to address environmental concerns include: 
  • Assessments of carbon sequestration and blue carbon at the scale of the north-east Atlantic Ocean. 
  • Highlighting the importance of ocean and coastal processes on the atmospheric flux of greenhouse gases.  
  • Providing climate change projections to advise the MMO in their publication of the South-West Marine Plan. 
Our ongoing activities include: 
  • Investigating the transport of land-derived carbon and nutrients between catchment and coast. Engagement with local stakeholders informs activities ranging from peatland restoration, flood defence, re-naturalisation of farmland and agricultural activities to retain soil carbon and reduce nutrient loss; 
  • Development and production of observation systems, models and risk maps for cholera in the northern Indian Ocean which will support evidence-based policy decisions and actions to inform local communities, governments, health services, intergovernmental agencies and policy makers; 
  • Providing techniques for the identification of  pollution (oil, litter, nutrients) from satellite data which when integrated with models, produce forecast and hindcast predictions of the source and direction of pollution. 
  • The integration of sustained, multiplatform observing networks and marine ecosystem models to improve operational short-term and seasonal predictions of ecosystem stressors (e.g. anoxia, ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms).

PML Project pages

Other projects

  • HyperDrone
  • Copernicus Global Land Operations (CGLOPS)

Selected publications

Kröger S, Parker R, Cripps G & Williamson P (Eds.) 2018. Shelf Seas: The Engine of Productivity, Policy Report on NERC-Defra Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry programme. Cefas, Lowestoft. 

Martinez-Vicente, V; Clark, JR; Corradi, P; Aliani, S; Arias, M; Bochow, M; et al. 2019. Measuring Marine Plastic Debris from Space: Initial Assessment of Observation Requirements. Remote Sensing.

Muller-Karanassos, C; Arundel, W; Lindeque, PK; Vance, T; Turner, A; Cole, MJ. 2020 Environmental concentrations of antifouling paint particles are toxic to sediment-dwelling invertebrates. Environmental Pollution.

Beaumont, NJ; Aanesen, M; Austen, MC; Börger, T; Clark, JR; Cole, MJ; Hooper, TL; Lindeque, PK; Pascoe, CK; Wyles, KJ. 2019 Global ecological, social and economic impacts of marine plastic. Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Williamson, JL; Tye, A; Lapworth, DJ; Monteith, D; Sanders, R; Mayor, DJ; et al. 2021. Landscape controls on riverine export of dissolved organic carbon from Great Britain. Biogeochemistry.

Kitidis, V; Tait, K; Nunes, J; Brown, IJ; Woodward, EMS; Harris, C; Sabadel, AJM; Sivyer, DB; Silburn, B; Kröger, S. 2017 Seasonal benthic nitrogen cycling in a temperate shelf sea: the Celtic Sea. Biogeochemistry.

Williamson, P; Turley, CM. 2016 How can we minimise negative effects on ocean health? Policy card E1-E2. AVOID and UKOA programmes, 2pp.

Broszeit, S; Beaumont, NJ; Uyarra, MC; Heiskanen, AS; Frost, MT; Somerfield, PJ; Rossberg, AG; Teixeira, H; Austen, MC. 2017. What can indicators of good environmental status tell us about ecosystem services?: Reducing efforts and increasing cost-effectiveness by reapplying biodiversity indicator data. Ecological Indicators.

Turley, C., Racault, M.-F., Roberts, J.M., Scott, B.E., Sharples, J., Thiele, T., Williams, R.G. and Williamson P. 2021. Why the Ocean Matters in Climate Negotiations. COP26 Universities Network Briefing.


People who work in this area of research

Dr Yuri Artioli

Marine Ecosystem Modeller
yuti7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Atkinson

Marine Ecologist
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Dr Elizabeth C. Atwood

Earth Observation Data Analyst
liat7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Nicola Beaumont

Head of Science - Sea and Society
nijb7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Jerry Blackford

Head of Science: Marine Systems Modelling
jcb7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Zara Botterell

PhD Fellow
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Dr Sarah Breimann

Analytical chemist
sabr7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Stefanie Broszeit

Senior marine ecosystem services scientist
stbr7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr James Clark

Marine Ecosystem Modeller
jcl7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Dan Clewley

Senior Research Software Engineer
dac7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Matthew Cole

Senior Marine Ecologist and Ecotoxicologist
mcol7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Rachel Coppock

Marine Ecologist
rac7/23/2024 12:25:51

Elaine Fileman

Plankton Ecologist
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Professor Kevin Flynn

Plankton ecophysiology modeller
kjf7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Elizabeth Gabe-Thomas

Environmental Psychologist
egt7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Samantha Garrard

Marine Ecosystem Services Researcher
sga7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Frances E. Hopkins

Marine biogeochemist
fhop7/23/2024 12:25:51

William Jay

Geospatial Research Software Engineer
wja7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Vassilis Kitidis

Marine biogeochemist
vak7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Gemma Kulk

Senior Earth Observation Scientist
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Dr Andrey Kurekin

Marine Earth Observation Scientist
anku7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Gennadi Lessin

Marine System Modeller
gle7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Pennie Lindeque

Head of Science: Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
pkw7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Océane Marcone

Social Science Researcher
ocm7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente

Bio-optical oceanographer
vmv7/23/2024 12:25:51

Aser Mata

Earth Observation Scientist
asm7/23/2024 12:25:51

Hayley McIlwraith

PhD student

Thomas Mesher

Macrofaunal Ecologist
thm7/23/2024 12:25:51

Joana Nunes

Benthic Ecologist
jonu7/23/2024 12:25:51

Christine Pascoe

ckh7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Ana M Queirós

Marine and climate change ecologist
anqu7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Rees

Marine biogeochemist
apre7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Olivia Rendón

Senior Environmental Economist
ore7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Sevrine Sailley

Ecosystem modeller
sesa7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Shubha Sathyendranath

Merit Remote Sensing Scientist
ssat7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Stefan Simis

Earth Observation Scientist (inland/coastal waters)
stsi7/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Tim Smyth

Head of Science - Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations
tjsm7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Karen Tait

Microbial Ecologist
ktait7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Liz Talbot

Marine Ecologist
sat7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Ricardo Torres

Systems Modeller Data Assimilation
rito7/23/2024 12:25:51

Chris Walkinshaw

PhD Student
chw7/23/2024 12:25:51

Dr Mark Warren

Remote sensing scientist
mark17/23/2024 12:25:51

Professor Steve Widdicombe

Director of Science and Deputy Chief Executive

E. Malcolm S. Woodward

Chemical oceanographer
emsw7/23/2024 12:25:51