To generate scientific research, analysis and insight about the wildlife, ecosystem, and ecosystem services of the region that informs the development of conservation measures.

The 90 North Foundation has formed a partnership with the University of Exeter (‘Exeter’), based on the vision and work of the Foundation aligning closely with Exeter’s ambition to invest significantly in the research, teaching and dissemination of environmental science to tackle issues of pressing global significance- especially in the marine realm.

Together, Exeter and the Foundation have set up the Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit (CAORU) under the direction of Prof Brendan Godley. It is dedicated to researching the wildlife, ecosystem and ecosystem services of the region, along with relevant conservation policy and policy-delivery research. Exeter has also undertaken to absorb up to 40% of the full economic cost across the different levels of research post offered within the Unit.

The University of Exeter is home to a community of more than 300 marine researchers. We are focussed on increasing understanding of our oceans, learning how external influences impact them, and determining the actions we can take to mitigate risks from the climate and ecological crisis. The Arctic is a special place which few have visited but many value for its unique and dramatic ecosystems. It’s vital we better understand these current ecosystems, identify the risks they face and use this information to ensure the region is better protected for future generations. We are pleased to be working with the 90 North Foundation on the Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit, an ambitious partnership that will work to achieve these goals.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Exeter

The ambition of the collaborating parties is to initiate as much research as possible as soon as possible, given the eight year timeframe to secure the Central Arctic Ocean Marine Reserve. The Research Unit aims to secure £3.5 million per year over the eight year period from its funding partners.

Exeter is a member of the UK’s Russell Group of universities, and a centre of excellence in environmental research. With over 450 environment and marine scientists, and over 30,000 students from over 140 countries, it is a global community, combining leading research with an excellent reputation for working with industry and policymakers to identify and address key challenges facing our planet.

The Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit’s objectives are:

  • To deliver short and long term research projects
  • To run an international CAO-focused scientific research group
  • To establish a professorial chair/associate professorship
  • To establish an international research programme
  • To integrate the Unit’s research with that of relevant research bodies and groups
  • To introducing research findings to the policy-making community
  • To partner with research vessel(s) making voyages to the CAO
  • To run a network of ecosystem sensors across the CAO
  • To establish the Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit as an authoritative research body whose contributions are trusted and valued by the relevant nations, policy-development groups and UN agencies.

Research Themes


& Habitats


Emerging Stressors
& Risks

Governance &
Conservation Policy

CAORU Researchers (include)

Ian Ashton

Stuart Bearhop

Luis Huckstadt

Samantha Hurn

Ceri Lewis

Rob Magnusson Smith

Kristian Metcalfe

Adam Monier

Sarah Nelms

James Scourse

James Screen

Katy Sheen

Martin Siegert

Ben Temperton

Kirsten Thompson

Gail Whiteman

Each research project will contribute to an official report for each theme. The five reports will be integrated into an overall report focused on underpinning the recommended conservation policy for the Central Arctic Ocean.
All reports will be made available to the wider stakeholder community of the Central Arctic Ocean

We're delighted to work with the 90 North Foundation to conduct this vital research, which will inform the management of this precious part of our planet. We want to understand how these Arctic ecosystems function, and how human activities can be sustainably managed. From plankton, via whales and shipping, to legal and policy issues, Exeter has a wealth of expertise in marine biodiversity and protection.

Professor Brendan Godley, Exeter Marine Research Group Leader, University of Exeter.