Our shared sea

Mechanisms of ecosystem change in the Western Channel


Monitoring the ecosystem of the Western English Channel

The laboratories at Plymouth and Roscoff have maintained centennial length time-series measuring key parameters in determining ecosystem function and health. These observations cover a broad spectrum of parameters, essentially measuring from photons to fish.

Over the past twenty years, the in situ measurements at the historic time-series stations have been complemented by remote sensing (sea-surface temperature and ocean colour) and ecosystem modelling, which can give valuable synoptic scale information on ecosystem function in 4D. The two laboratories are also linked by the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey which is regularly towed between Plymouth and Roscoff, and during 2010 a ferry-box was installed on the Brittany Ferries line.

Within the Marinexus project, the Plymouth and Roscoff phytoplankton time series scientists have collaborated to share data and ensure that their operating methods enable proper comparison of the phytoplankton time series on either side of the Channel.
For further information on the Plymouth Phytoplankton Time Series data and protocols click here.
For further information on the Roscoff Phytoplankton Time Series data and protocols click here.

Both the Roscoff and Plymouth Observatories share the same technological challenges of maintaining high frequency moorings within the harsh environment of the western English Channel, but the opposite sides of the Channel have stark differences in their hydrography: the French side is well mixed all year round whereas the English side is seasonally stratified usually between April and September.

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