Research Highlights

The AMT provides a platform for scientists to capture and analyse data related to a range of oceanographic science areas. Over 256 scientists have participated in AMT cruises and many more have worked with the data which is accessible through the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). 

The data has produced over 300 scientific papers (a list of which can be found on the publications page), the long-term nature of the data collected is useful in analysing trends over a wide time period which can help with forecasting future outcomes. 

Below are examples of how AMT data has assisted various scientists and their research:

Net community production drivers identified in the South Atlantic Ocean

The first 16 year timeseries of net community production in the South Atlantic Ocean has been produced using satellite observations in a recent study by Ford et al. (2021). Net Community Production, or NCP, is a measure of the balance between phytoplankton photosynthesis and the respiration of the whole plankton community. A positive value for NCP indicates an uptake of CO2 by the plankton community, whereas a negative value occurs where CO2 is actually released. This new satellite NCP...
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Sea butterflies already struggle in acidifying Southern Ocean

Due to increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Southern Ocean will acidify in the upcoming few decades. This will affect shell growth in sea butterflies, useful biological indicators of ocean acidification, and important and abundant prey at the base of Southern Ocean food chains. In a new study, using samples collected on AMT27, scientists from Naturalis Biodiversity Center, lisette.mekkes@naturalis.nlthe University of Amsterdam and NIOZ show that sea butterflies already...
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Ocean's canaries have survived previous perturbations in the Earth's carbon cycle

Pteropods, abundant aragonitic calcifying plankton, are the equivalent of "canaries in the coal mine" for our acidifying oceans. Their sensitivity to high CO2 levels and limited fossil record has led to the widely held view that pteropods only became abundant after the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, approximately 56 million years ago), the closest analogue to modern-day ocean acidification and warming. An international team of researchers have shown, based on an extensive...
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AMT study estimates over 10 times more plastic in the Atlantic than previously thought

The mass of ‘invisible’ microplastics found in the upper waters of the Atlantic Ocean is approximately 12- 21 million tonnes, according to AMT research published in the journal Nature Communications.Significantly, this figure is only for three of the most common types of plastic litter in a limited size range. Yet, it is comparable in magnitude to estimates of all plastic waste that has entered the Atlantic Ocean over the past 65 years: 17 million tonnes. This suggests that the...
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Bio-optical data and ocean colour

The colour of the ocean as “seen” from a satellite is related to the light absorbed and scattered by substances and organisms in the water. Once of the most important parameters that influences the colour of the ocean is phytoplankton, tiny plants which contain the green pigment, chlorophyll. Although microscopic, phytoplankton grow in such numbers that they can change the colour of the ocean to such a degree that it can be seen from space. Satellites measurements can then be used...
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Carbonate system chemistry

The oceans play a vital role in regulating atmospheric CO2. Currently the oceans absorb about one quarter of CO2 released by human activities on an annual basis. Without the oceans, CO2 would be rising much faster in the atmosphere than it currently is. Nevertheless, the accumulation of excess CO2 in the oceans has potentially adverse implications there, notably an increase in acidity (decrease in pH). During AMT we are working towards quantifying this effect thoughout the Atlantic Ocean...
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High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and bio-optical data

AMT scientists have developed a conceptual model which describes how the phytoplankton community structure changes as total phytoplankton biomass (as indicated by chlorophyll concentration) changes. The model was developed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and bio-optical data collected on AMT transects.  The findings have then been extrapolated to the global ocean using satellite Earth observation and it is envisaged that future applications will include validating...
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Mapping primary production

Using satellite ocean colour chlorophyll and radiance data, accurate maps of primary production have been developed, which provide spatially and temporally resolved global and regional estimates of primary production.  These satellite measurements are validated by measurements taken on-board the AMT cruises. Here primary production is determined by the uptake of radioactive carbon (14C) at over 100 stations in the Atlantic Ocean during each AMT cruise, and the data is then used to...
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Optical observations of ocean ecosystems

Observations in the ocean are key understanding the ocean carbon cycle and ecosystem dynamics, but they are very scarce in the vast open ocean. Therefore AMT scientists have been working devise methods to estimate ocean carbon cycle and ecosystem variables by exploiting optical observations as these are relatively easy to collect either from ships or from space.  Optical sensors can be installed on autonomous platforms, such as gliders and profiling floats, and greatly extend the...
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High evolutionary potential of marine zooplankton

Marine holozooplankton (the microscopic animals which spend their entire life cycle in the open water column) have been sampled during AMT cruises, with the aim of unravelling the barriers to dispersal of these species along the Atlantic Ocean transect. It is typically expected that these organisms should experience gene flow over long distances as there are few obvious barriers to dispersal. However, very little work has actually been done to understand gene flow in pelagic holoplankton on a...
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