Combining Evidence for Marine Monitoring


Combining Evidence for Marine Monitoring


Project Description


Prof Elena Kulinskaya (UEA Computing Sciences)

Dr Jon Barry (Cefas)

Dr Evalyne Muiruri (Cefas)

Dr Naomi Greenwood (Cefas/UEA)

Scientific background

Cefas and the wider monitoring community is increasingly looking to fulfil monitoring objectives using a combination of data sources. For example: Cefas has a unique dataset of 130 years of sea temperature data, containing over 10 million records from 17 data systems; data collected for seafloor litter monitoring performed with a variety of different fishing gears; eutrophication monitoring collated from devices installed on board vessels, deployed on automated systems or estimated from satellite imagery.

Research methodology

This project will use publicly available datasets. The available data are described in the publications below. The objective of this project is to combine data from different sources in a way that results in statistically unbiased estimates that can be used to assess spatial and temporal trends.

Two-stage analytic methods will be developed: firstly, a common dataset-specific model is developed and secondly, meta-analytic methods are used to pool the model parameters across datasets [5].

For the sea temperatures, the aim is to evaluate changes over time but making sure that these changes are real and not functions of the assessment methods used. With eutrophication, the question is   whether and how to combine results measured using different methods. With litter, the main challenge is to create spatially and temporally coherent estimates of sea floor litter (principally plastic) levels without confounding by the different trawl methods used to collect the data.

The research will start with sea temperatures and then move to other areas if needed.

The student will be based in UEA’s School of Computing Sciences, where there is considerable expertise in Big Data analysis. They will also spend a significant amount of time at Cefas in Lowestoft, where the datasets are curated and where their co-supervisors are based.


The student will receive advanced training in statistics, Big Data and environmental sciences. They would also receive help and guidance on the environmental and ecological aspects of the work from scientists at Cefas.

Person specification

Applicants should have a minimum 2:1 Bachelor degree in statistics, mathematics or another numerical discipline, and strong computing skills.


  • Heffernan J, Barry J, Devlin M and Fryer R (2010). A simulation tool for designing nutrient monitoring programmes for eutrophication experiments. Environmetrics, 21, 3-20.
  • T. Maes, J. Barry, H.A. Leslie, A.D. Vethaak, M. Nicolaus, R. Law, B. Lyons and J. Thain (2018). twenty-five years of seafloor litter monitoring in coastal seas of North West Europe (1992-2017). Science of the Total Environment, 630, 790-798,
  • Morris, D. J., Pinnegar, J. K., Maxwell, D. L., Dye, S. R., Fernand, L. J., Flatman, S., Williams, O. J., and Rogers, S. I.: Over 10 million seawater temperature records for the United Kingdom Continental Shelf between 1880 and 2014 from 17 Cefas (United Kingdom government) marine data systems, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 27-51,, 2018.
  • Dogo, S. H., Clark, A. & Kulinskaya, E. (2017). Sequential change detection and monitoring of temporal trends in random-effects meta-analysis. Research Synthesis Methods, 8, 220-235.
  • Gasparrini A, Armstrong B, Kenward MG. 2012a. Multivariate meta-analysis for non-linear and other multi-parameter associations. Statistics in Medicine, 31:3821-3839.

Application open

Apply Now