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2021-08-05

In order to develop new fields of research, Ifremer sets up a new scheme, the «Blue Chairs», for a maximum duration of 5 years. This experimental scheme is part of the Exceptional Scientific Investment Plan

approved in October 2020 by the Ifremer’s Board of Directors, in order to accelerate and amplify the implementation of its strategic plan up to 2030 and to contribute to the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.

The 1st Blue Chair announced in 2021 and located at Ifremer Atlantic research center, in Nantes.

Ifremer’s research units in Nantes have a scientific identity focused on the interactions between sea and health, in a global One Health approach (environmental, animal and human health). They investigate i.e.: the quality of marine waters and the contaminations that affect them; the land-sea continuum and the cumulative impacts of human activities; and the management of aquaculture and fisheries resources. Ocean engineering is also an essential topic for Ifremer, not only in Nantes but at national scale. The Ifremer research teams in Brest and Toulon have a strong partnership with  the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and the University of Nantes in this field, particularly within the framework of the Carnot MERS Institute. The skills of the Ifremer teams in Nantes can strengthen this partnership by broadening the scope of ocean engineering to include the dimensions of environmental impacts and socio-economic drivers.

  • Topic 1: « Cumulative impacts on the marine environment »

The coastal ocean is subject to a growing number of natural and anthropogenic pressures generating cumulative impacts: climate change, fragmentation and deterioration of habitats, increased inputs of chemical inputs or/and nutrients, microbiological contamination, invasion of non-native species or unbalanced spreading of native species, over-exploitation of living marine resources, etc.

The issue of the cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine environment has now been clearly identified by governments and taken into account in a number of policies. However, too often, these impacts are still assessed by summing up the indices of the various pressures exerted on the environment. Tools and methods are still insufficient to adequately address the non-linearities that may appear when similar effects are repeated (e.g. several plants of the same nature along a catchment area) or different activities are associated (e.g. the cumulative impact of different pollutants, or the cumulative impacts of human activities such as renewable marine energy and fishing).

Multi-risk analysis of simultaneous or cascading events, integrating joint probabilities, appears a possible way forward. However, whatever methods are used, they must aim to bring together the various scientific disciplines working on the different risk components.

Ifremer operates observatory networks and open databases on a European scale. The institute has undertaken innovative technological developments to characterise biodiversity in situ (flow cytometry, eDNA). It can count on the most up-to-date geochemical proxies for oceanic aqueous matrices through the Ocean Spectroscopy Pole, but also on the deployment of tools facilitating in situ chemical characterisation.

 

These new measurements can be used to understand the processes controlling the physical and biogeochemical evolution of the water bodies of concern and to build new models controlled by the processes or data.

The main scientific objective of the Blue Chair is to develop an integrative approach, involving different research fields, to assess cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine environment.

  • Topic 2: « Contaminants, Sea and Health »

The ocean is both the ultimate receptacle of chemical and biological contaminations from the continents, and a supplier of resources, particularly food. Within the framework of a One Health/EcoHealth approach, the land-sea continuum is an object of primary interest that can be explored, from the understanding of contamination pathways in marine ecosystems to the contamination effects on health (both human and animal), as the exploited living resources are a link between environmental quality and consumer’s health.

Although a great deal of work already exists in this field, it often takes into consideration only one category of contaminants at the time. However, considering the exposome (i.e. the sum of environmental exposures throughout life) and its consequences on human and animal health prompts for the development of new concepts and new integrated approaches to understand the complexity of marine ecosystem contaminations and their effects. This will be the purpose of the «Contaminants, Sea and Health» chair.

This chair will be associated with the units of the Ifremer site in Nantes who are developing, through various projects and with local partners, recognised work targeting different types of contaminants (viruses and bacteria, chemical contaminants or toxic micro-algae). The main objective is to develop an integrative approach regarding the relationship between the contamination of marine ecosystems and human health. This approach will be grounded in the local projects, reinforcing the partnerships with the health sector.

Deadline: 15 October

Terms of the call for applications and more info:

https://wwz.ifremer.fr/en/Latest-news/Call-for-applications-Ifremer-kick-starts-its-first-Research-Blue-Chair