ATLAS Project

To achieve the trans-Atlantic scale and incorporate the diversity of sensitive Atlantic deep-water ecosystems, ATLAS has assembled 12 Case Studies that follow the major Atlantic current patterns. These were selected on basis of proximity to Blue Growth activities, presence of focal ecosystems, availability of existing data/samples and opportunities for offshore cruises during the ATLAS project. Case studies include the Davis Strait and Flemish Cap (Canada) and the Mid-Atlantic Canyons (North America). Case Studies cross-cut the project and give the biogeographic, regulatory and jurisdictional range needed to meet ATLAS’s objectives.
Geographical Coverage:
Large-scale business (headcount more than 250)
Lead Partner:
University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The ATLAS project offers a near perfect EU and international implementation of the Galway Statement. From its inception, ATLAS has been designed and developed with partners from Europe, Canada and the USA who are unified through a shared vision to foster deep sea trans-Atlantic research, innovation and management to underpin Blue Growth. Working with US and Canadian partners allows ATLAS to improve the alignment of ocean observations (e.g. AR7, Ocean Network Canada cabled deep-sea observatory experience), share data and explore the implications of changing interplay between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans with specific reference to Atlantic VMEs and EBSAs. DFO Canada has already provided ATLAS colleagues with ship time to study ecosystems in the Labrador Sea, Scotian Shelf and Bermuda Triangle, whilst the US partner, the University of North Carolina Wilmington is developing one of the twelve ATLAS case studies. Most recently, ATLAS has organised a session at the EC Commission Event “A New Era of Blue Enlightenment”. Hosted by Prof. Ricardo Serrao Santos (MEP), this Trans-Atlantic workshop outlined present and emerging issues in Atlantic basin-scale research and governance. The session began with introductions to three EU H2020 projects funded in the North Atlantic: ATLAS, SponGES and MERCES before moving on to promote dialogue with partners in the South Atlantic.
  • Advance our understanding of deep Atlantic marine ecosystems and populations
  • Improve our capacity to monitor, model and predict shifts in deep-water ecosystems and populations
  • Transform new data, tools and understanding into effective ocean governance
  • Scenario-test and develop science-led, cost-effective adaptive management strategies that stimulate Blue Growth".
Results and Transferability:
14 ATLAS related cruises have taken place: during the OSNAP/EEL 2017 cruise the crew deployed high-technology biogeochemical sensors onto existing OSNAP moorings in the Rockall Trough. Protocols have been established & standardised for the sampling of key taxa, sediment, plankton fish and invertebrates. Policy engagement has taken place through presentations at key international meetings."
ATLAS held its first Science-Policy Panel at the European Parliament (March 2017). Partners have presented at the SDG14 Oceans Conference (UN) and UN Prep Comm3. Through the Advisory Board, ATLAS links with relevant Blue Growth Industries (Fisheries, Oil and Gas, Blue Pharma) and we are sharing knowledge and results with these key industries contributing to a thriving and sustainable blue growth.
Project/Activity location and area of focus:
ATLAS focusses on understanding valuable deep-sea (200-2000 m deep) Atlantic ecosystems in terms of their connectivity, functioning and responses to future changes in human use and ocean climate. Areas of focus are for example, Davis Strait, Flemish Cap (Canada) and the Mid-Atlantic Canyons (North America) which were chosen based on their proximity to Blue Growth activities, presence of focal ecosystems, availability of existing data/samples and opportunities for offshore cruises during the ATLAS project.
AAP Priority covered:
Priority 2: Protect, secure and develop the potential of the Atlantic marine and coastal environment
Total project/activity cost (€):
Funding instrument used:
Horizon 2020
United Kingdom
Funding contribution (€): 
Private contribution (€): 
4. Innovative project conception