Europe and North America both enjoy various benefits arising from the North Atlantic Ocean and its contiguous shelf seas. However, these ecosystems are influenced at the basin scale by a common atmospheric forcing. Unfortunately, there is a significant lack of information at a mechanistic level about how this forcing impacts marine populations. In addition, little is known about how impending climate changes may alter the basin's ecology and biogeochemical cycles. The EU-funded EURO-BASIN (European Union basin-scale analysis, synthesis and integration) project set out to develop a predictive understanding based on furthering the knowledge base on key species and processes that determine ecosystem dynamics. Overall, the aim was to provide information on the variability and potential impacts of global change and anthropogenic forcing on the North Atlantic Ocean ecosystems. To address gaps in knowledge, EURO-BASIN employed current data, targeted laboratory and field studies, and a range of modelling techniques. Modelling led to an ecosystem-based approach that helped to gain insight into the effects of climate variability on marine ecosystems and their goods and services. Project partners assessed the consequences of climate and fishery activities on key plankton and fish species of the North Atlantic Ocean and its shelf seas. The species impact carbon sequestering and ecosystem functioning. Based on this, the team developed strategies to enhance North Atlantic Ocean marine ecosystem management by using the ecosystem-based approach. By bringing together American and Canadian environmental institutes, EURO-BASIN shed light on the North Atlantic Ocean's ecosystems and demonstrated how these are affected by climate change and intensified human intervention. Outcomes should help to address key policy aims, especially the targets outlined in the Common Fisheries Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
North Atlantic Ocean, shelf seas, basin-scale analysis, modelling, anthropogenic forcing, marine ecosystems, ecosystem approach