TRIATLAS and PIRATA-26 Conference and General Assembly 2023

The final TRIATLAS General Assembly (GA) was held in Banyuls-sur-Mer, France, October 16–20, 2023. We thank our local hosts at IRD-LEGOS and Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls-sur-Mer for their hospitality.

This meeting was organized as a joint conference with the PIRATA / TAV group with over 120 attendees, 54 oral and 63 poster presentations!


General agenda is part of the linked document above. See DETAILED AGENDA for individual presentations!

A major advance to predict future changes in marine ecosystems

Climate change affects everything from bathing temperatures to fish health and seafood safety. Many countries along the Atlantic Ocean rely on fish and seafood as their primary food source. Researchers have now taken a significant step closer to an operational climate warning system for the ocean.

By Tori Pedersen, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research 

– This is an important first step. It is really exciting, says Professor at the Geophysical Institute and Bjerknes Centre, Noel Keenlyside.

Keenlyside leads the EU-funded TRIATLAS-project. To predict future changes in marine ecosystems, you need to run many computer simulations. Traditionally only institutions with sufficient financial and technical resources could manage this. But now the project has introduced a possible solution to use simple and free technologies to allow any modelling group to perform these exercises. The new method is also a significant breakthrough when it comes to time efficiency. Previously, running such marine ecosystem model would have taken weeks, but now it can be completed in 30 hours.

– This is a major breakthrough. To achieve this we needed to bring marine ecosystem and climate modellers together. This can become a powerful tool for managers and policy makers”, says Keenlyside.


Easier to predict changes 

When the global temperatures rise, the temperature in the ocean also increases. And as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere rise, so does the amount of CO2 in the ocean. A warmer ocean will make species migrate to find conditions they prefer. By making marine ecosystem models more accessible, it will be easier to predict how the ocean will change in the future. 

Jeroen Steenbeek, researcher at the Ecopath International Initiative led this work in the TRIATLAS project. He explains the progress as follows.

– By constructing the “MacGyver” framework from simple and open-source tools we basically allow any ecosystem modeller, around the world, to better assess their models for policy advice, without the need for IT skills or expensive hardware.  

In this video, you can learn more about how climate models can be combined with ecosystem models to improve the prediction of marine ecosystems.

Make the model operational 

According to Steenbeek, lack of robustness assessments has hampered the uptake of the Marine Ecosystem Models in the policy and decision-making arenas, where they are needed. But amongst the challenges now is how to make the model operational, so that it becomes useful.

 The availability of new capabilities inevitably raises new questions for which the Marine Ecosystem Models community is not yet prepared. The framework now allows Marine Ecosystem Models to run hundreds of times, but making sense of the terabytes of data that comes out of these runs is a challenge that requires a theoretical framework that does not really exist yet.

The result was produced through very collaboration and interdisciplinary efforts within the TRIATLAS project and included the Norwegian Climate Prediction Model. The new approach is to use complex numerical models of the marine ecosystem. These models include complex interactions in the marine ecosystem and also the influence of environmental factors and fisheries. The new models can be used to investigate how climate and fisheries could influence marine ecosystems over the next few years. 

The way forward

Financed by the EU, TRIATLAS aims to study the current situation of the Atlantic Ocean`s marine ecosystem and predict future changes. According to Keenlyside this new result in the project will benefit the scientific community, fishery managers and people who plan how to use ecosystem services. For the moment, this has been developed for the South and Tropical Atlantic, but the prediction system is based on global models. Thus, this approach can be used everywhere. However, there is still a lot more work to be done.

According to Steenbeek there are two things that are important going forward. The first thing is to further develop and mature the framework in close collaboration with the global Marine Ecosystem Models-community, and at the same time work with global initiatives such as The Fisheries and Marine Ecosystem Model Intercomparison Project to develop and mature the statistical tools to digest the massive amounts of data, and to start the work to make the process of modelling for policy more robust.

– These are the first results from the system, and there is still quite a long way to go before they will be operational. However, there is a great potential here and I see this opening a new area of active research”, says Keenlyside.

Jeroen Steenbeek, Pablo Ortega, Raffaele Bernardello,Villy Christensen, Marta Coll, Eleftheria Exarchou, Alba Fuster‐Alonso, Ryan Heneghan, Laura Julià Melis, Maria Grazia Pennino, David Rivas and Noel Keenlyside


TRIATLAS factsheets

Watch our video on Marine Ecosystem Modeling

Selected topics and results from TRIATLAS are presented in these factsheets, available in English, Portuguese and French

Atlantic ecosystems 

  • Biodiversity Hotspots in the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean

    Birds, fish and mammals thrive in the South Brazil Bight. This richness is closely linked to ocean currents and river run-off. When the physical environment changes, ecosystems and fishing grounds could also change.

    Read about three identified areas of rich marine life, climate change impacts, ecosystem health and spawning grounds: 
    English // French // Portugese

  • Key Ecosystems in the South and Tropical Atlantic Ocean

    Around the Atlantic Ocean nations rely heavily on fishing and other coastal activities. Even minor changes in the environment may affect the catch.

    Read about ocean systems and key fishing areas in the Northeast Brazil, and the Canary and Southern Benguela upwelling regions off the west coast of Africa:
    English // French // Portugese

  • Tuna Migration in the South and Tropical Atlantic Ocean

    Tuna roam the big ocean, responding to currents and temperature changes in the water.

    Minor changes in environment may affect tuna catches. Read about how sea temperatures and ocean circulations influences fisheries: 
    English // French // Portuguese

Techniques in observations and modeling

  • From models to life. 

    Combining climate models and ecosystem models makes it possible to predict how life in the ocean will develop in the future.

    Read about how to model ecosystems in the ocean and climate variations, and how to combine climate and ecosystem models!
    English // French // Portuguese

  • Emerging technologies for biological observation in the Atlantic

    This is the situation: The Tropical and Southern Atlantic Ocean is much less observed than the North Atlantic. There is lack of observation and knowledge of the vast South Atlantic, impeding efficient conservation and sustainable furnishing of ecosystems services.

    Read about how new technology can help biological oceanography in advancing knowledge of the ocean ecosystems.
    English // French // Portuguese

  • Shiny4Selfreport fisheries app

    – a free self-reporting app for the management of fisheries

    The tool is designed to be simple and adaptable, aimed to fill gaps in the management of fisheries in developing countries.
    English // French // Portugese


EuroSea Symposium on Ocean Observing and Forecasting

EuroSea Symposium on Ocean Observing and Forecasting is a high-level event bringing together national and international stakeholders from policy, science, and industry. This symposium will take place on September 21, 2023, at the IOC/UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

The EuroSea Symposium is a momentous occasion to celebrate the remarkable innovations in European ocean observing and forecasting over recent years. It will serve as a platform for participants to reflect on past achievements and address the challenges that lie ahead in this vital field. The event aims to present and discuss recommendations for building a sustainable ocean observing and forecasting system that provides accessible, timely, and actionable data and information to all ocean users. By fostering collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including policymakers, scientists, and industry leaders, the symposium strives to develop a unified approach to ocean research and forecasting.

Read more about the symposium and how to attend here.

Report your fishing with our app

Self-reporting applications are a promising solution for monitoring fisheries data. However, they still fail to provide accurate information and do not always engage users. In the video below, Eurico Noleto introduces Shiny4SelfReport, an application he has developed to address such shortcomings.

Instead of using expensive, proprietary software, Shiny4SelfReport uses common and affordable technologies. The tool, developed in R, gathers fishers’ input and stores them in the cloud. It was designed to be simple and adaptable, aiming to fill gaps in the management of fisheries in developing nations. 

Shiny4SelfReport is available here and described in more detail here.

Learning to write without getting stuck

Isabelle Oliveira and Mathew Stiller-Reeve
Having a network for discussing writing can make future articles easier to complete. Here, workshop participant Isabelle Vilela and writing coach Mathew Stiller-Reeve discuss their experience with writing. Photo: Ellen Viste, TRIATLAS / Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

«Be kind, take a deep breath and plan,» says Mathew Stiller-Reeve.

Stiller-Reeve, a writing coach and researcher, has just finished teaching an online writing workshop organized through TRIATLAS and CANEMS. Young researchers from Benin, Angola, South Africa, France, Norway, Spain and Brazil have spent a total of six days learning about and discussing scientific writing.

Spreading the workshop over eight weeks gave the participants time to work on their own article between the sessions. The aim has been to give them support through the entire working process for one of their TRIATLAS articles.

«They were fantastic to work with,» says Mathew Stiller-Reeve. «Very hard-working.»

Besides Stiller-Reeve’s lectures, the participants were organized in groups to give each other feedback on article drafts.

The writing coach points to the way the young researchers developed their way of talking about writing during the course. Their analysis of their own material as well as articles by other authors changed completely, he explains.

«I’d ask them: Could you have done this four weeks ago? – No chance.»

Isabelle Vilela was one of the workshop participants. She says she especially enjoyed learning how to break the process down.

«It helped me not to get stuck. When you look at the total, it’s like a mountain, so hard to climb. If you break it into small steps, you see that you can go all the way to the mountain.»

«It would be nice if there were a possibility to continue,» she says.

Continuation is one of TRIATLAS’ goals when organizing such a course. Having worked together in small groups over a time span of two months, all participants now know someone to ask for feedback.

«Most importantly, I wish to create a social environment for writing that can continue after the end of the course», Mathew Stiller-Reeve says.

International Master 2 in oceanography and applications

The International Master 2 in Oceanography and Applications is co-hosted by the University of Abomey Calavi (UAC, Benin) and the University of Toulouse III (UT3, France). Since 2008, it has allowed more than 130 students from different countries of West and Central Africa to study the physics, chemistry and biology of the ocean. 

This Master covers a wide spectrum, from ocean circulation theory to oceanographic instrumentation and coastal erosion. Courses are taught by professors from the two host universities (UAC and UT3), but also by researchers from West Africa, France, Brazil and Germany. 

Holders of a Master’s degree in physics, mathematics, environmental sciences, hydrology, or any other equivalent degree are eligible to apply. 

For more information, please visit: 

Hot waters challenge fish in the Tropical and South Atlantic

Recurring marine heat waves combined with acidification threaten productivity in regions important for fisheries.

Heat waves are associated with sweltering streets and scorched soil. But as likely as humans and cattle, the victims can be corals or fish. Abnormally hot periods also occur in the ocean.

When marine heat waves co-occur with strong acidification and low biological productivity, living conditions in the water deteriorate even further.

“Over the past two decades, the frequency and intensity of these compound events have increased dramatically in the Tropical and South Atlantic,” says Regina Rodrigues, associate professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Rodrigues was recently in Bergen to present her work at the fifth International Symposium on Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans.

Since 2014 compound events of marine heat waves, high acidification and little chlorophyll have occurred practically every year in several biologically important regions in the Tropical and South Atlantic. Regina Rodrigues expresses her worry that the recurring events make it harder for life in the ocean to cope.

“This puts in check the capability of the marine ecosystems to recover from these compound extremes,” she says.

Regina Rodrigues, Lynne Shannon and Jerry Tjiputra recently presented their science in Bergen. The three researchers are part of the TRIATLAS project, coordinated by the University of Bergen. Photo: Ellen Viste, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research / TRIATLAS

A need for monitoring below the surface

Jerry Tjiputra, researcher at NORCE and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, calls for a long-term monitoring system in key vulnerable regions such as the Southern Ocean and the Tropical and North Atlantic.

Tjiputra has used Earth system models to estimate when anthropogenic signals in the global ocean may be detectable under different climate change scenarios.

While changes in surface water are more easily recognized, his work indicates the need for a closer look at greater depths.

“Changes in temperature, salinity, oxygen and pH can occur earlier in the interior ocean than on the surface”, he says. “Below the surface, where most marine organisms live, anthropogenic signals may already have manifested and are potentially predictable.”

Local action to address global targets

“Local actions can mitigate the negative extremes once we have a good monitoring and prediction system,” says Regina Rodrigues.

In the South Atlantic the Agulhas Leakage or Benguela Current region off the coast of Africa has suffered specifically from compound events.

Lynne Shannon, a research professor from the University of Cape Town, has used the South African marine system as a case study to identify local science-policy actions that would address globally relevant targets.

“Interlinking climate and biodiversity targets remains a challenge,” she says.

An array of South African research activities as well as policy and management measures, strive to address both the climate and biodiversity crises. The activities also address outcomes aimed for in the UN Ocean Decade, namely oceans and coasts that are clean, healthy and resilient, predicted, safe, sustainably harvested and productive, transparent and resilient.

Shannon notes that most of the activities have a strong societal component. 

“The challenge worldwide will be to ensure that each of our well formulated research, policy and management activities are actually put into action in our governance system”, she says.

Modeling cumulative stressors on ecosystems

Ecological models such as Ecopath with Ecosim are increasingly used to investigate the effect of various stressors on ecosystems. A recent review of studies using such models found that more work is needed to address the compound effects of all relevant stressors.

Among the 166 studies considered, 60 considered stressors of climate change, 22 considered introductions of new species, 21 considered habitat loss and 20 eutrophication. Only 20 of the 166 studies investigated at least three stressors simultaneously, most focusing on a single stressor.

The authors call for the filling of gaps in approaches to harness to full power of EwE such as deriving functional responses to stressors, including human dimensions of change beyond fishing, and using systematic computational simulations to assess uncertainty.


A. Stock, C.C. Murray, E.J. Gregr, J. Steenbeek, E. Woodburn, F. Micheli, V. Christensen, K.M.A. Chan (2023): Exploring multiple stressor effects with Ecopath, Ecosim, and Ecospace: Research designs, modeling techniques, and future directions, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 869,