Deep Sea Forum

Scotland has a vast deep-sea area stretching out to the 200 nautical mile boundary, encompassing a range of diverse habitats as well as economic resources such as fishing, oil and gas. In addition to scientific interest in the deep sea, policy makers are required to protect many of these poorly understood habitats and the often fragile ecology and biodiversity that they support. Increasing access to deep sea habitats and exposure through various media has also stimulated significant public curiosity in the life found in these deep, col, dark environments.

A more holistic approach to studying the deep-sea is needed which requires engagement with researchers representing a variety of disciplines, including ecologists, chemists, physicists, modellers and climate scientists. These researchers have to be supported by technology that can operate remotely under extreme conditions. Only then can we truly begin to understand how the ecosystem functions.

The MASTS deep-sea forum has several initial aims highlighted below, which will evolve over time, to:

1) Interact with the different communities which have an interest in the deep-sea

2) Engage with new partners and promote collaboration across disciplines in order to further deep water research both at a national level as well as internationally

3) Ensure greater integration between researchers investigating deep/shallow water and the climate/atmosphere

4) Discuss and help deliver the best scientific knowledge available to policy makers

Deep sea researchers operating within the mASTS community have access to a variety of state of the art equipment, some of which has been specifically designed to operate and sample in the deepest parts of the world's oceans. The challenge of conducting research in these extreme environments means that much of the science is by definition, cutting edge. However, use of modern technology, together with practical ingenuity is leading to novel discoveries including species and ecosytems new to science.

This forum is led by Dr Heather Stewart whose research interests are wide and varied including the study of sea-floor processes and composition, developing novel methods for automated and semi-automated classification of datasets, researching the links between geology, oceanography and biological communities both within shelf and deep-sea environments, examining the impact of glaciation offshore, and looking at the link between sea floor geomorphology and seabed sediments within oceanic trench environments. Previously Heather held the position of the UK International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Science Coordinator. Heather has experience of bringing together a disparate group of researchers for a common goal: managing timelines, personalities and distilling ambitious, yet achievable goals to achieve scientifically robust and meaningful results (e.g. the UKCCSRC funded GlaciStore project). Heather is an editor of the Scottish Journal of Geology and has been on the organising committee of numerous international conferences, and participated at a number of public engagement events. Heather has participated on more than 19 expeditions world-wide, published 19 peer reviewed papers and >40 commissioned reports generating significant income . As a Skills Leader, Heather feels strongly about investing in people and t heir training/development, and plans to bring these skills to serve the next generation of marine researchers.

Forum Convenor: Dr Heather Stewart (BGS)

Deputy Forum Convenor: TBC

Steering Group: Dr David Bailey (Glasgow University); Dr Francis Neat (MSS); Dr Andrew Dale (SAMS); Dr Robert Turnewitsch (SAMS), Prof Dorrik Stow (HW), Dr Andrew Sweetman (HW and Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy (SAMS

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