Dr Alan Fox

Physical Oceanographer

I am a physical oceanographer studying ocean circulation and variability and the impacts on deep-sea ecosystems.

I use Lagrangian particle tracking in high-resolution basin-scale hydrodynamic models to examine circulation pathways, watermass exchanges and the connectivity of deep-sea benthic populations.

Contact details:

My current research interests are in AMOC and subpolar gyre dynamics and climate change, and the changes they drive in ecosystem-relevant fluxes in the North Atlantic.

I use ocean modelling and Lagrangian particle tracking techniques to examine recent variability in circulation pathways. The addition of larval behaviour to the Lagrangian models allows the modelling of connectivity between deep-sea benthic populations and prediction of how connectivity might change under future conditions of changing circulation, ocean acidification and increasing exploitation of the deep-sea.

I am also interested in developing methods, using techniques from multi-objective optimisation and network analysis, to include connectivity information in conservation planning in the deep sea.


Current research projects

ATLAS. Funded by EU Horizon 2020. 2016-20. My roles within ATLAS are the analysis of data from the new physical and ecosystem flux arrays; and modelling the impact of biological parameters on the Lagrangian connectivity of North Atlantic ecosystems.

Blue-Action. Funded by EU Horizon 2020. 2016-21. My role is within a work package examining lower latitude drivers of Arctic changes, where SAMS leads the research on mechanisms of heat and freshwater transfer from subpolar gyres to the Arctic regions. 


Highlight past projects

Daphne Jackson Fellowship. Funded by Heriot-Watt University. 2014-16. The Daphne Jackson Trust helps return STEM researchers to their careers after a break. In 2014 I received one of their Fellowships on “A graph theory approach to assessing connectivity of protected areas in Scottish waters with particular application to cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa.

Peer-reviewed publications

Fox AD, Handmann P, Schmidt C, Fraser N, Rühs S, Sanchez-Franks A, Martin T, Oltmanns M, Johnson C, Rath W, Holliday NP, Biastoch A, Cunningham SA, Yashayaev I (2022) Exceptional freshening and cooling in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic caused by reduced Labrador Sea surface heat loss. Ocean Sci., 18, 1507–1533, https://doi.org/10.5194/os-18-1507-2022 

Mayorga-Adame CG, Polton JA, Fox AD, Henry LA (2022) Spatiotemporal scales of larval dispersal and connectivity among oil and gas structures in the North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 685:49-67. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13970

Combes M, Vaz S, Grehan A, Morato T, Arnaud-Haond S, Dominguez-Carrió C, Fox A, González-Irusta JM, Johnson D, Callery O, Davies A, Fauconnet L, Kenchington E, Orejas C, Roberts JM, Taranto G and Menot L (2021) Systematic Conservation Planning at an Ocean Basin Scale: Identifying a Viable Network of Deep-Sea Protected Areas in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Front. Mar. Sci. 8:611358. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.611358

Gary SF, Fox AD, Biastoch A, Roberts JM, Cunningham SA (2020) Larval behaviour, dispersal and population connectivity in the deep sea. Scientific Reports 10: 10675 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67503-7

Fox, A.D., D.W. Corne, C.G. Mayorga Adame, J.A. Polton, L.-A. Henry, and J.M. Roberts. 2019. “An Efficient Multi-Objective Optimization Method for Use in the Design of Marine Protected Area Networks.” Frontiers in Marine Science 6 (FEB). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00017

Henry, L.-A., C.G. Mayorga-Adame, A.D. Fox, J.A. Polton, J.S. Ferris, F. McLellan, C. McCabe, T. Kutti, and J.M. Roberts. 2018. “Ocean Sprawl Facilitates Dispersal and Connectivity of Protected Species.” Scientific Reports 8 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-29575-4

Clippele, L.H. De, V.A.I. Huvenne, C. Orejas, T. Lundälv, A.D. Fox, S.J. Hennige, and J.M. Roberts. 2018. “The Effect of Local Hydrodynamics on the Spatial Extent and Morphology of Cold-Water Coral Habitats at Tisler Reef, Norway.” Coral Reefs 37 (1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-017-1653-y

Fox, A.D., L.-A. Henry, D.W. Corne, and J.M. Roberts. 2016. “Sensitivity of Marine Protected Area Network Connectivity to Atmospheric Variability.” Royal Society Open Science 3 (11). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160494

Fox, A.D., and K. Haines. 2003. “Interpretation of Water Mass Transformations Diagnosed from Data Assimilation.” Journal of Physical Oceanography 33 (3). https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(2003)033<0485:IOWMTD>2.0.CO;2

Troccoli, A., M.A. Balmaseda, J. Segschneider, J. Vialard, D.L.T. Anderson, K. Haines, T.Tim Stockdale, F. Vitart, and A.D. Fox. 2002. “Salinity Adjustments in the Presence of Temperature Data Assimilation.” Monthly Weather Review 130 (1). https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0089:SAITPO>2.0.CO;2

Fox, A.D., K. Haines, B.A. De Cuevas, and D.J. Webb. 2000. “Altimeter Assimilation in the OCCAM Global Model Part II: TOPEX/POSEIDON and ERS-1 Assimilation.” Journal of Marine Systems 26 (3–4). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0924-7963(00)00044-0

Fox, A.D., K. Haines, B.A. De Cuevas, and D.J. Webb. 2000. “Altimeter Assimilation in the OCCAM Global Model Part I: A Twin Experiment.” Journal of Marine Systems 26 (3–4). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0924-7963(00)00043-9

Fox, A.D., K. Haines, and B.A. De Cuevas. 1999. “Satellite Altimetry Data Assimilation in the OCCAM Global Ocean Model.” Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Part A: Solid Earth and Geodesy 24 (4). https://doi.org/10.1016/S1464-1895(99)00044-7

Fox, A.D., and S.J. Maskell. 1996. “A Nested Primitive Equation Model of the Iceland-Faeroe Front.” Journal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans 101 (C8). https://doi.org/10.1029/96JC01530

Fox, A.D., and S.J. Maskell. 1995. “Two-Way Interactive Nesting of Primitive Equation Ocean Models with Topography.” Journal of Physical Oceanography 25 (12). https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(1995)025<2977:TWINOP>2.0.CO;2

Hill, A.E., I.D. James, P.F. Linden, J.P. Matthews, D. Prandle, J.H. Simpson, E.M. Gmitrowicz, , D. A. Smeed, K. M. M. Lwiza, R. Durazo, A. D. Fox, and D. G. Bowers. 1993. “Dynamics of Tidal Mixing Fronts in the North Sea.” Philosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, A 343 (1669). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.1993.0057

Matthews, J.P., A.D. Fox, and D. Prandle. 1993. “Radar Observation of an Along-Front Jet and Transverse Flow Convergence Associated with a North Sea Front.” Continental Shelf Research 13 (1). https://doi.org/10.1016/0278-4343(93)90038-Y

Employment history

Since June 2019: Postdoctoral Researcher in Physical Oceanography. SAMS

2016-19: Postdoctoral Researcher. School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

2014-16: Daphne Jackson Research Fellow. School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

2001-03: Senior Research Fellow. ESSC, University of Reading

1996-2001: Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Department of Meteorology, University of Edinburgh

1993-96: Postdoctoral Researcher. Department of Mathematics, University of Exeter

1992-93: Consultant Physical Oceanographer. Metocean Consultancy



1992 PhD Physical Oceanography. Bangor University

1989 MSc Physical Oceanography. Bangor University

1986 BSc Mathematics. University of Newcastle uplon Tyne