Western Channel Observatory

NERC National Capability of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Marine Biological Association



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Towards a network of oceanographic observatories.

The observations at the WCO are at just two sites. How do these fit into the wider picture? The baseline WCO measurements have been augmented by funding under the CHARM project (CHannel integrated Approach for marine Resource Management). This is a large, multi-institute France-UK initiative to work together across the English Channel, providing decision makers with the necessary tools to be able to manage sustainably its various resources.

The Channel has multiple and sometimes competing users, varying from shipping, aggregate extraction, fishing, offshore wind generation to coastal tourism and leisure. The WCO contributes to CHARM by providing an inventory and time series of planktonic taxa in the English Channel to examine how the abundance and phenology (seasonal life cycle timing) is affected by the changing climate. Plankton are key links in the valuable food webs of the English Channel as well as an indicator of the overall “health” of the ecosytem.

More widely, the WCO contributes to a network of ~50 time series sites across the North Atlantic and European shelf, coordinated by the ICES programme. WCO scientists are actively involved with ICES, for example contributing to the ICES Zooplankton and Phytoplankton Status Reports, which provide comparisons of the long-term change in the plankton right across the Atlantic.

CHARM is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

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About Us

The WCO is a partnership between the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Marine Biological Association.

How are we funded?

The core work of the WCO is funded as part of the UK Natural Environmental Research Council's National Capability.

Contact Information

For more details about the WCO please contact:

Dr Tim Smyth
Western Channel Observatory
Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Prospect Place
email: tjsm@pml.ac.uk