Changing environmental conditions and human activities have major impacts on the distribution and sustainability of living marine resources. This poses a serious challenge to the business and policy that communities are seeking to balance with the societal needs and with environmental sustainability. Large-scale ocean observation is needed to improve our understanding of how deep ocean ecosystems function, their roles as reservoirs of biodiversity and genetic resources, and their health under future scenarios of climate change and human use.

“As the birthplace of deep-sea biology and the cradle of oceanography, the North Atlantic is the place we should know best, but only in the last 20 years have we uncovered how varied and vulnerable its deep-sea habitats really are.”

Murray Roberts, ATLAS Co-ordinator.

The ATLAS project is striving to improve our understanding of complex deep-sea ecosystems and their associated species, including those that are new to science. Researchers are looking to predict future changes to these ecosystems and species together with their vulnerabilities in the face of climate change. As well as carrying out pioneering research and discovery, ATLAS is developing a scientific knowledge base that can inform the development of international policies to ensure deep-sea Atlantic resources are managed effectively. This will contribute to the European Commission’s long-term “Blue Growth” strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole.

Key achievements:

  • 67 Peer-reviewed publications, including 1 Nature and 1 Science publication.
  • 74 Peer-reviewed publications in preparation. 
  • Dedicated Frontiers in Marine Science Research Topic ‘Managing deep-sea ecosystems at ocean basin scale’ initiated by ATLAS with 11 papers published to date. This open access Research Topic has received >25k views and 3,416 article downloads since its launch. 
  • 34 Offshore research expeditions 
  • 70 researchers and 10 PhD students employed 
  • 17 workshops held covering Deep-sea Species Distribution Modelling (Montreal, Canada); Modelling Connectivity (Edinburgh, UK); Conservation Management Issues (Montpellier, France); GES (Mallorca, Spain).
  • ATLAS media reach estimated at 85.5M persons with coverage including BBC (Radio and TV), Sky News, The Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and NPR podcast.
  • ATLAS results have reached approximately 7K in policy, 20K in industry and over 70K members of the scientific community.