UKRI GCRF One Ocean Hub
Researchers from Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences will be members of the UKRI GCRF’s new ‘One Ocean Hub’. This ambitious new Hub brings together partners from the UK, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Fiji and Solomon Islands to tackle the crisis facing our oceans.
Humans are entirely reliant upon a healthy ocean - it contributes to the renewal of freshwater, absorbs over a quarter of global carbon dioxide, and produces half the oxygen we breathe. The ocean also has the potential to make significant contributions to sustainable development. Many developing countries already depend of their ocean resources for food, work and livelihoods. However, as we are reaching an ocean health crisis - cumulative pressures such as over-exploitation of its resources, ocean plastics and pollution and climate change, all compounded by multiple competing uses, are pushing the ocean ecosystem to a tipping point.
The Hub aims to tackle this by providing more integrated ocean governance, ensuring greater balance between ocean conservation and sustainable use. Researchers at Edinburgh will study the implications of global change on deep-sea ecosystems – particularly the implications of ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation. The massive amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean is causing seawater to become more acidic. Recent findings from Edinburgh’s Changing Oceans research group show that this progressive acidification of the ocean is weakening skeletons of cold-water corals threatening the complex habitats and rich biodiversity they support.
The Edinburgh team will join the One Ocean Hub’s offshore expeditions to gather corals from the deep ocean and use the latest experimental and material science techniques to understand how these important ‘ecosystem engineers’ will respond to predicted future ocean conditions. The team will use remotely operated vehicles to survey deep-water vulnerable marine ecosystems formed by corals and sponges and help build capacities in this research across the One Ocean Hub.
Professor Murray Roberts from the School of GeoSciences said:
“Deep corals are among the most sensitive marine ecosystems to ocean acidification. The One Ocean Hub is a wonderful project and a fantastic opportunity for us to build on our 20 years of research into how cold-water corals function and the biodiversity they support.”
Dr Sebastian Hennige from the School of GeoSciences said:
“The opportunity to link the science of how marine habitats will change in a future ocean, to law and policy for the benefit for stakeholders (local and international) is for me one of the truly exciting parts of the international One Ocean Hub.”
The School has been successful in securing three UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Awards. The School will lead on the GCRF Multi-Hazard Urban Disaster Risk Transitions Hub; and will work in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to create a GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub; and with the University of Strathclyde to create a GCRF One Oceans Hub.
The hubs are funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) – which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations sustainable development goals.