The School of Ocean Sciences (SOS) is an actively seagoing research institution with an international reputation for the quality of its research on shelf seas and shallow marine environments. Ocean margins, shelf seas, estuaries and the coastal zone are the key elements of the marine system with respect to climate change impacts (sea level, ecosystem functioning) and anthropogenic interactions. Our activity accordingly encompasses blue skies, strategic and applied research, and active knowledge transfer. Our reputation in shallow marine science is evidenced by publication output and grant capture. Since 2001, 515 peer-reviewed papers were published and the School's research awards exceeded £14.5M. SOS has a strong upward trajectory of UK research council income, with over £1.25M awarded from the December 2006 NERC round alone.
The School's research culture is based on a multidisciplinary, Earth systems, approach to the investigation of shallow marine systems and processes. In particular, we have developed advanced models (e.g. Simpson et al., 2002, JPO), tested at sea by innovative observational studies (e.g. Simpson et al., 2002, CSR; Scourse et al., 2002, MG), to predict and hindcast responses to natural and anthropogenic impacts over a variety of timescales (e.g. Uehara et al., 2006, JGR). Such combined modelling-observational approaches have applications in marine environmental management, and in operational oceanography, and these are exploited within the School by a well-integrated externally funded unit, the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences (CAMS) . CAMS spearheads the SOS third mission, has very close links with relevant national and international agencies, governmental bodies and the user community, provides policy advice, and has had a profound impact on applied shelf sea science through work on particle tracking (e.g. Perianez and Elliott, 2002, JER), oil spill management (e.g. Elliott 2004, ECSS), and aquaculture and marine conservation (e.g. Walton et al., 2006, EC).
This multidisciplinary vision is reflected in our flexible research structure which is organised through three thematic groupings; some staff contribute to more than one theme (see below: leaders in bold). All our recent research achievements and breakthroughs have been interfacial: 1. physics/biology/policy: the development of operational management models for the sustainable development of shellfish aquaculture [BBSRC/EU-MaBenE]: 2. ecology/policy: recovery of benthic invertebrate communities and fishery overspill effects in newly created marine reserves (NERC): 3. physics/geology/chemistry/biology: a new combined biogeochemical and modelling paradigm for reconstructing the palaeoceanography of shelf seas [NERC/Royal Society): 4. physics/geology: new models for particle aggregation and sedimentation [NERC]: 5. biology/geology: the development of an absolute chronology for the marine environment based on cross-matched Arctica islandica growth increments [EU HOLSMEER, MILLENNIUM/NERC). These developments would not have been possible without the
RV Prince Madog, delivered in 2001. Funded by the First Round Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF) (£2.8M with a further £1.5M from industry), this state-of-the-art 35m research vessel enhances the School's strong seagoing reputation and constitutes a national facility for the UK marine science community [POL/MBA]. The award in 2006 of significant Reconfiguration funding (£1.3M to SOS) from HEFCW is part of the Research Partnership between Aberystwyth and Bangor; this initiative investigates fluxes and flows from fluvial catchments to coastal systems, and their biological impacts (
Catchment to Coast, CCCR
, 2006-11), and has enabled key staff appointments and infrastructural developments, including the purchase and equipping of an inshore boat fleet. Strong seagoing capability is complemented by a suite of recently refurbished seawater laboratories providing experimental facilities of international standard.