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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
yuti1/31/2023 10:22:19

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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Dr Lauren Biermann

Earth Observation Scientist
lbi1/31/2023 10:22:19

Jerry Blackford

Head of Science: Marine Systems Modelling Group
jcb1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Zara Botterell

PhD Fellow
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Dr Sarah Breimann

Analytical chemist
sabr1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Stefanie Broszeit

Marine ecosystem services researcher
stbr1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr James Clark

Marine Ecosystem Modeller
jcl1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Dan Clewley

Earth Observation Research Software Engineer
dac1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Matthew Cole

Senior Marine Ecologist and Ecotoxicologist
mcol1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Rachel Coppock

Marine Ecologist
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Elaine Fileman

Plankton Ecologist
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Professor Kevin Flynn

Marine Plankton Ecologist
kjf1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Elizabeth Gabe-Thomas

Environmental Psychologist
egt1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Frances E. Hopkins

Marine biogeochemist
fhop1/31/2023 10:22:19

William Jay

Airborne Earth Observation Data Analyst
wja1/31/2023 10:22:19

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
anku1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Gennadi Lessin

Marine System Modeller
gle1/31/2023 10:22:19

Professor Pennie Lindeque

Head of Science: Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
pkw1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Océane Marcone

Social Science Researcher
ocm1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente

Bio-optical oceanographer
vmv1/31/2023 10:22:19

Aser Mata

Earth Observation Scientist
asm1/31/2023 10:22:19

Hayley McIlwraith

PhD student

Thomas Mesher

Macrofaunal Ecologist
thm1/31/2023 10:22:19

Joana Nunes

Benthic Ecologist
jonu1/31/2023 10:22:19

Christine Pascoe

ckh1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Ana M Queirós

Marine and Climate Change Ecologist
anqu1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Andy Rees

Marine biogeochemist
apre1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Olivia Rendón

Environmental Economist
ore1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Sevrine Sailley

Ecosystem modeller
sesa1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Shubha Sathyendranath

Merit Remote Sensing Scientist
ssat1/31/2023 10:22:19

Professor Stefan Simis

Earth Observation Scientist (inland/coastal waters)
stsi1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Tim Smyth

Head of Science - Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations
tjsm1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Paul J. Somerfield

pjso1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Karen Tait

Microbial Ecologist
ktait1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Liz Talbot

Marine Ecologist
sat1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Ricardo Torres

Systems Modeller Data Assimilation
rito1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Carol Turley

Head of International Affairs
ct1/31/2023 10:22:19

Chris Walkinshaw

PhD Student
chw1/31/2023 10:22:19

Dr Mark Warren

Remote sensing scientist
mark11/31/2023 10:22:19

Professor Steve Widdicombe

Director of Science and Deputy Chief Executive

E. Malcolm S. Woodward

Chemical oceanographer
emsw1/31/2023 10:22:19