Marine and coastal ecosystems are dynamic and complex.  They also provide a wealth of ecosystem services for society in addition to conservation and aesthetic values.  Understanding the effects of human activity on the marine environments is important and challenging.  

A key aspect of our research is to describe ecological change in the context of technology, policy and social systems.

Ecological modelling

Our consolidated research on the ecological effects of offshore oil and gas development has forged our expertise in ecological modelling. This allows us to predict effects of human activity and test future development scenarios.

Efficient planning for large scale marine energy development requires the ability to model environmental effects. This is particularly important because of the different technologies and different development pathways involved. Core specialist expertise in fisheries modelling has been expanded into habitat and ecosystem modelling.

Hydrodynamic modelling

One of our key research interests is linking hydrodynamic models of waves and tide with ecological models (ecosystem processes and habitat). 

EPSRC funded research involves partnership with other leading institutions pulling together the best international expertise.

Novel technologies for the assessment of environmental effects

Developing new techniques for estimating environmental impacts is central to the future economic development of the seas.

We are collaborating with industry funded research to explore automated video recognition technology for habitat mapping and recording animal interactions with renewable energy devices. 

Marine planners can use data collected from improved environmental monitoring to support strategic planning for the sustainable use of marine resources.

Climate change

An important strand of work for ICIT is the identification of bio-indicators and sentinel species which can be used to differentiate climate change driven effects from project level effects.

There is a need to describe ecological impacts from direct human activity (e.g  oil & gas, fisheries or marine energy) against the backdrop of ecological change driven by global warming. 

Underlying changes to ocean temperature, acidity and oceanographic processes make the prediction of future impacts from specific developments particularly difficult. 

It brings into question the use of historic data as a predictor of future change.