SAMS news room

Top European scientists discuss rapidly changing North Atlantic


Some of Europe’s top marine scientists are meeting at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), near Oban, this week to evaluate current scientific understanding of the rapid changes in the North Atlantic affecting circulation pattern, climate, ecosystems and fisheries.

SAMS, Scotland’s largest independent marine research organisation, is hosting an event to mark the 40th year of a regular ocean expedition along the ‘Ellett Line’, which has been running from the west coast of Scotland to the deep water of the Rockall Trough since 1975. The sea line is named after former SAMS scientist David Ellett, who recognised the importance of creating a time series to gauge oceanic climate variability.

The next expedition will run from May 28 to June 18 and follow the ‘Extended Ellett Line’ to Iceland. The expeditions are run jointly between SAMS and the National Oceanography Centre.

Dr Stefan Gary of SAMS, a research associate in physical oceanography, who is organising the event, said: “This long time series allows us to see how and where changes have been occurring. Over the last 20 years the waters to the west of Scotland have been getting ever warmer and saltier. The data from our study is crucial to our understanding of future climate change in northern Europe.”

Commenting on the gathering of scientists at SAMS Dr Gary said: “I’m a physicist but our group here also includes chemists, geologists and biologists so that we can develop a whole systems understanding of the causes and implications of the changes in the North Atlantic. Society needs the best scientific information possible to manage the marine environment sustainably.”




Notes to editors
  1. The Extended Ellett line is important oceanographically because it completes the measurements of the warm salty water flowing into the Nordic Seas from the eastern North Atlantic. It is particularly relevant to the UK and north-west Europe because the warm water flowing through the Rockall Trough moderates the climate of the region, keeping winters warmer than expected for this latitude. It also measures around half of the returning deep and cold current, the overflow water (the rest returns to the Atlantic via the Denmark Strait which is west of Iceland).
  2. The expedition is funded through National Capability Funding from Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). 
  3. The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), based at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, is Scotland’s largest and oldest independent marine science organisation, dedicated to delivering marine science for a healthy and sustainable marine environment through research, education and engagement with society. It is a charitable organisation (009206).

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