SOLAB website


Plankton interactions, their environmental determinants, and biogeochemical consequences in the Southern Senegal coastal laboratory



SOLAB is a research project funded by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR; 2018-2022).

SOLAB’s general objective is to improve our ability to anticipate and manage coastal ocean evolutions. Its key premise is that adaptation, mitigation, restoration, and hazard prevention strategies have to be based on an in-depth integrated understanding of the present and past system states and their functioning. Specifically, the objectives of the SOLAB project are to characterize and understand the trophic functioning (from physics to fish) of the south-Senegalese upwelling system (SSUS), with a particular attention to plankton, which has a central role in marine ecosystems.

The scientific approach we are following took inspiration from various ongoing and past research programs in various parts of the California current system (Oregon coast, Point Reyes/Bodega Bay, Monterey Bay, CCE-LTER A-Front Study, the Irish Sea

Sea surface temperature (SST) and Chlorophyl-a (Chla) over the senegalese coastal ocean on 5 January 2016, from satellite MODIS-AQUA. Preferential upwelling south of Dakar/Cape Verde peninsula and transport of cold upwelling water southward form a blue tongue pattern in SST, surrounded by warmer reddish waters both inshore and offshore. Chla patterns reveal enrichment by upwelling inside the cold SST tongue. Near the coast, retention processes, recycling and perhaps terrigenous input concur to yield maximum plankton biomass.

Interactions exist with several companion projects.

The work plan is decomposed into

  • observational activities, relying on both in situ measurements/sampling and satellite imaging
  • numerical modelling of the ocean physics (CROCO), biogeochemistry (PISCES) and planktonic biodiversity (DARWIN)
  • Dissemination of SOLAB’s findings based on the production of science-to-policy and mediation material

The SOLAB consortium is made of 50+ researchers, engineers, post-doc researchers, and students from 9 research institutes/laboratories in France (LOCEAN, LOPS, LEMAR, IFREMER/DYNECO, LEGOS, LAERO, UMMISCO, MARBEC, LOG) and four in Senegal (LPAO-SF and IFAN @ Université Cheikh Anta Diop; LOSEC @ Université Assane Seck de Ziguinchor; Université Amadou Mahtar Mbow de Dakar. Training of young scientists in Senegal and to a lesser extent in France will be a major outcome of the project.

Ultimately, SOLAB’s research should provide support and guidance to the state actors in charge of ecosystem monitoring, fisheries management, as well as climate change impacts: Centre de Recherche océanographique de Dakar-Thiaroye (CRODT), Agence Nationale d’aquaculture, Direction de l’environnement et des établissement classés (DEEC), Direction des Aires Marines Protégées Communautaires (DAMPC), Comité national pour l’adaptation au changement climatique (COMNACC)

Some actions are also aimed at reinforcing ties with traditional fishermen.