RRS James Cook Expedition JC237, 6 AUGUST – 4 SEPTEMBER 2022. CLASS – Climate-linked Atlantic Sector Science Whittard Canyon and Porcupine Abyssal Plain Fixed Point Observatories

Huvenne, Veerle ORCID: 2024 RRS James Cook Expedition JC237, 6 AUGUST – 4 SEPTEMBER 2022. CLASS – Climate-linked Atlantic Sector Science Whittard Canyon and Porcupine Abyssal Plain Fixed Point Observatories. Southampton, National Oceanography Centre. (National Oceanography Centre Research Expedition Report, 80)

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JC237 was one of the main expeditions of the CLASS National Capability programme funded by NERC (UK). Delayed by two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expedition combined two important pieces of observational work for the CLASS programme. The main aim of the cruise was to revisit key sites, last surveyed on JC125 in 2015, in the Whittard Canyon system on the Celtic Margin. This submarine canyon, and its protected area (The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone in English waters) is one of the long-term benthic time-series locations of the CLASS programme. The goal of the survey was to increase our understanding of benthic ecosystem change and recovery in the deep sea, under either natural (e.g. sediment flows, flank collapses) or anthropogenic (e.g. bottom trawling) environmental disturbance. Furthermore, the new datasets expand the general knowledge on the geological framework, sediment dynamics, current regimes and habitat distributions in land-detached submarine canyons – important connecting pathways between shelf and deep sea. The second CLASS-related aim was to carry out photographic surveys at the Porcupine Abyssal Plain Sustained Observatory (PAP-SO) – the longest-running deep-water observatory worldwide. Annual observations at this location create an invaluable record. The availability of an ROV (first time for the PAP-SO site) and a deep-water AUV (only second visit) during JC237 opened new opportunities for detailed sampling and extensive imaging of the benthic community. In addition, JC237 also had a technical demonstrator/development component: it was the first science expedition for the brand-new Autosub5 deep-water AUV and for the DeepGlider from MARS (the Marine Autonomous and Robotics Systems division at NOC). Furthermore, the Autosub5 was equipped with the new RoCSI eDNA sampler, enabling in-situ sampling and preservation of eDNA at depths up to 4500m. This demonstrator was part of the iAtlantic project. Overall, the expedition was a great success, with an extensive amount of data and samples collected (15 AUV missions with >250,000 photographs, 700k sidescan & multibeam, 60 RoCSI samples; 17 ROV dives, 45 days of DeepGlider observations, 21 CTD casts, 5 megacores, 12 gravity cores, 4 CPR transects and 10s of km2 of shipboard multibeam data collected). First interpretations have already illustrated coral expansion in some locations in the canyon, while geomorphological change seems limited.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: National Oceanography Centre
Additional Keywords: Submarine Canyon, The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone, Porcupine Abyssal Plain, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Remotely Operated Vehicle, Habitat Mapping
Date made live: 24 Jan 2024 10:32 +0 (UTC)

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