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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
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Dr Angus Atkinson

Marine Ecologist
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Dr Elizabeth C. Atwood

Earth Observation Data Analyst
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Professor Nicola Beaumont

Head of Science - Sea and Society
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Professor Jerry Blackford

Head of Science: Marine Systems Modelling
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Dr Zara Botterell

PhD Fellow
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Dr Sarah Breimann

Analytical chemist
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Dr Stefanie Broszeit

Senior marine ecosystem services scientist
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Dr James Clark

Marine Ecosystem Modeller
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Dr Dan Clewley

Senior Research Software Engineer
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Dr Matthew Cole

Senior Marine Ecologist and Ecotoxicologist
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Dr Rachel Coppock

Marine Ecologist
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Elaine Fileman

Plankton Ecologist
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Professor Kevin Flynn

Plankton ecophysiology modeller
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Dr Elizabeth Gabe-Thomas

Environmental Psychologist
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Dr Samantha Garrard

Marine Ecosystem Services Researcher
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Dr Frances E. Hopkins

Marine biogeochemist
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William Jay

Geospatial Research Software Engineer
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Dr Vassilis Kitidis

Marine biogeochemist
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Dr Gemma Kulk

Phytoplankton physiologist
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Dr Andrey Kurekin

Marine Earth Observation Scientist
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Dr Gennadi Lessin

Marine System Modeller
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Professor Pennie Lindeque

Head of Science: Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
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Dr Océane Marcone

Social Science Researcher
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Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente

Bio-optical oceanographer
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Aser Mata

Earth Observation Scientist
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Hayley McIlwraith

PhD student

Thomas Mesher

Macrofaunal Ecologist
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Joana Nunes

Benthic Ecologist
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Christine Pascoe

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Professor Ana M Queirós

Marine and climate change ecologist
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Dr Andy Rees

Marine biogeochemist
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Dr Olivia Rendón

Senior Environmental Economist
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Dr Sevrine Sailley

Ecosystem modeller
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Dr Shubha Sathyendranath

Merit Remote Sensing Scientist
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Professor Stefan Simis

Earth Observation Scientist (inland/coastal waters)
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Professor Tim Smyth

Head of Science - Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations
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Dr Karen Tait

Microbial Ecologist
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Dr Liz Talbot

Marine Ecologist
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Dr Ricardo Torres

Systems Modeller Data Assimilation
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Chris Walkinshaw

PhD Student
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Dr Mark Warren

Remote sensing scientist
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Professor Steve Widdicombe

Director of Science and Deputy Chief Executive

E. Malcolm S. Woodward

Chemical oceanographer
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