Dr Clare Johnson

        Dr Clare Johnson during an outreach event

Senior Observational Physical Oceanographer

I am an observational oceanographer with an expertise in the large scale circulation and water masses of the subpolar North Atlantic.

Although the focus of my research is from a physical oceanography standpoint, I often work at the interface between marine physics and chemistry. I use both contemporary and historical mooring and hydrographic data including that from Bio-Argo floats, OSNAP and Extended Ellett Line.

Contact details:

I am an observational oceanographer with an expertise in the large scale circulation and water masses of the subpolar North Atlantic.

Although the focus of my research is from a physical oceanography standpoint, I often work at the interface between marine physics and chemistry. I use both contemporary and historical mooring and hydrographic data including that from the OSNAP, ATLAS and Extended Ellett Line projects.

Recently I have been calculating fluxes of physical and chemical parameters in the region between Iceland and Scotland. I have participated in numerous research cruises and am also a pilot for the SAMS glider fleet.

Current research activity

iAtlantic - Integrated assessment of Atlantic marine ecosystems in space and time: I am a PDRA working mainly in work package 1: Atlantic oceanography and ecosystem connectivity. Funded by EU Horizon 2020. 

ATLAS - A Trans-Atlantic assessment and deep-water ecosystem-based spatial management plan for Europe: I am delivering the PDRA work package 1: Ocean dynamics driving ecosystem response. Funded by EU Horizon 2020. 2016-20

Past research projects

NACLIM North Atlantic Climate. Funded by EU FP7. 2012-17

EEL - Extended Ellett Line. Funded by NERC National Capability. Ongoing

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 

Li F, Lozier MS, Bacon S, Bower AS, Cunningham SA, de Jong MF, deYoung B, Fraser N, Fried N, Han G, Holliday NP, Holte J, Houpert L, Inall ME, Johns WE, Jones S, Johnson C, Karstensen J, Le Bras IA, Lherminier P, Lin X, Mercier H, Oltmanns M, Pacini A, Petit T, Rickart RS, Rayner D, Straneo F, Thierry V, Visbeck M, Yahayaev I & Zhou-Show C (2021) Subpolar North Atlantic western boundary desity anomalies and the Meridional Overturning Circulation. Nature Communications 12: 3002 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23350-2  

Kazanidis, G., L. Henry, J. Vad, C. Johnson, L. de Clippele, and J. Roberts, 2021, Sensitivity of a cold-water coral reef to interannual variability in regional oceanography, Diversity and Distributions, 00, 1-13, doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13363 .

Tsubouchi, T., K. Vage, B. Hansen, K. Larsen, S. Østerhus, C. Johnson, S. Jonsson and H. Valdimarsson, 2021, Increased ocean heat transport into the Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean over the period 1993-2016, Nature Climate Change, 11, 21-26, doi:10.1038/s41558-020-00941-3.

Houpert, L., S. Cunningham, N. Fraser, C. Johnson, N. Holliday, S. Jones, B. Moat and D. Rayner, 2020, Observed variability of the North Atlantic Current in the Rockall Trough from four years of mooring measurements, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125, doi:10.1029/2020JC016403.

Puerta, P., C. Johnson, M. Carreiro-Silva, L. Henry, E. Kenchington, T. Morato, G. Kazanidis, J. Rueda, J. Urra, S. Ross, C. Wei, J. Gonzalez-Irusta, S. Arnaud-Haond, and C. Orejas, 2020, Influence of water masses on the biodiversity and biogeography of deep-sea benthic ecosystems in the North Atlantic, Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, 25 pp, doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00239.

Johnson, C., M. Inall, S. Gary and S. Cunningham, 2020, Significance of climate indices to benthic conditions across the northern North Atlantic and adjacent shelf seas, Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00002.

Østerhus, S., R. Woodgate, H. Valdimarsson, B. Turrell, L. de Steur, D. Quadfasel, S. Olsen, M. Moritz, C. Lee, K. Larsen, S. Jónsson, C. Johnson, K. Jochumsen, B. Hansen, B. Curry, S. Cunningham, and B. Berx, 2019, Arctic Mediterranean exchanges: A consistent volume budget and trends in transports from two decades of observations, Ocean Science, 15, 379-399, doi:10.5194/os-15-379-2019.

M.S. Lozier, F. Li, S. Bacon, F. Bahr, A.S. Bower, S.A. Cunningham, M.F. de Jong, L. de Steur, B. deYoung, J. Fischer, S.F. Gary, B.J.W. Greenan, N.P. Holliday, A. Houk, L. Houpert, M.E. Inall, W.E. Johns, H.L. Johnson, C. Johnson, J. Karstensen, G. Koman, I.A. Le Bras, X. Lin, N. Mackay, D.P. Marshall, H. Mercier, M. Oltmanns, R.S. Pickart, A.L. Ramsey, D. Rayner, F. Straneo, V. Thierry, D.J. Torres, R.G. Williams, C. Wilson, J. Yang, I. Yashayaev, J. Zhao (2019) A sea change in our view of overturning in the subpolar North Atlantic. Science, 363 (6426), 516-521: doi: 10.1126/science.aau6592

Houpert, L., M. Inall, E. Dumont, S. Gary, C. Johnson, M. Porter, W. Johns, and S. Cunningham, 2018, Structure and transport of the North Atlantic Current in the eastern subpolar gyre from sustained glider observations, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123, doi: 10.1029/2018JC014162.

Crocket, K., E. Hill, R. Abell, C. Johnson, S. Gary, T. Brand and E. Hathorne (2018) Rare Earth Element Distribution in the NE Atlantic: Evidence for benthic sources, longevity of the seawater signal, and biogeochemical cycling. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00147 

Gary, S. F., Cunningham, S. A., Johnson, C., Houpert, L., Holliday, N. P., Behrens, E., … Böning, C. W. (2018). Seasonal cycles of oceanic transports in the Eastern Subpolar North Atlantic. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JC013350

H. Hátún, J. Ólafsson, K. Azetsu-Scott, R. Somavilla, F. Rey, C. Johnson, M. Mathis, U. Mikolajewicz, P. Coupel, J-É. Tremblay, S. Hartman, S.V. Pacariz and I. Salter (2017) The subpolar gyre regulates silicate concentrations in the North Atlantic. Nature Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14837-4 

Johnson, C., T. Sherwin,. S. Cunningham, E. Dumont, L. Houpert, N. Holliday, 2017, Transports and pathways of overflow water in the Rockall Trough, Deep Sea Research I, 122, 48-59, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2017.02.004

Pacariz, S., H. Hjalmar, A. Jacobsen, C. Johnson and F. Rey, 2016, Nutrient-driven poleward expansion of the NorthEast Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) stock: a new hypothesis, Elementa, 4, doi:10.12952/journal.elementa.000105.

Holliday, N., S. Cunningham, C. Johnson, S. Gary, C. Griffiths, J. Read and T. Sherwin, 2015, Multi-decadal variability of potential temperature, salinity and transport in the sub-polar North Atlantic, JGR Oceans, 120, doi:10.1002/2015JC010762.

Johnson, C., M. Inall, and S. Hakkinen, 2013, Declining nutrient concentrations in the northeast Atlantic as a result of a weakening Subpolar Gyre, Deep Sea Research I, 82, 95-107, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2013.08.007.

Sherwin, T., J. Read, N. Holliday, and C. Johnson, 2012, The impact of changes in North Atlantic Gyre distribution on water mass characteristics in the Rockall Trough, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 69, 751-757, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsr185.

Johnson, C., T. Sherwin, D. Smythe-Wright, T. Shimmield, and W. Turrell, 2010, Wyville Thomson Ridge Overflow Water: Spatial and temporal distribution in the Rockall Trough, Deep Sea Research I, 57, 1153-1162, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2010.07.006.


Other publications

Johnson, C., 2012, Tracing Wyville Thomson Ridge Overflow Water in the Rockall Trough, PhD thesis, University of Aberdeen, available http://digitool.abdn.ac.uk


BSc Marine Science - lecturing on year 3 'Ocean, Circulation and Climate'

BSc Marine Science - supervision on year 3 'Literature Review'

BSc Marine Science - supervision on year 4 'Dissertation'

Prizes / awards

Johanna Fehling Memorial Prize for best postgraduate research paper, SAMS, 2012

SEPA award for best presentation, Scottish Marine Group meeting, 2008

Neil MacDougall Bursary for practical oceanography, SAMS, 2003

Highest graduating mark, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, 2003

Research expeditions

Numerous hydrographic and mooring research cruises to the subpolar North Atlantic as well as several trips in Scottish coastal waters.

Paper reviewing

Reviewer for Deep Sea Research; Geophysical Research Letters; Weather

Outreach / public engagement

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador

Development and provision of interactive displays at science outreach events (Dundee, Edinburgh, Oban)

Delivery of general marine science CPD day for primary school teachers

Employment history

2017-present: PDRA physical oceanography (part-time) ATLAS project. SAMS

2013-17: PDRA physical oceanography (part-time) NACLIM project. SAMS

2012-13: PDRA physical oceanography (part-time) EEL project. SAMS



2012 PhD (part-time) Tracing overflow water in the Rockall Trough. University of Aberdeen in conjunction with University of the Highlands and Islands

2003 BSc (Hons 1st class) Environmental Sciences with a year in North America. University of East Anglia