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Postgraduate research project

Effects of electromagnetism associated with offshore windfarms on North Sea fish

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

This project will explore the physiological and behavioral effects of electromagnetic fields associated with HV cables of offshore windfarms.

The UK’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050 will be partially enabled by the rapid expansion of offshore wind (OW). Critical research gaps must be addressed to incorporate the cumulative influence of OW to sustainably maximise development potential. The emission of electromagnetic fields from subsea power cables has the potential to perturb the geomagnetic field to a level that could result in developmental, physiological, and/or behavioural responses (e.g. on predator/prey interactions, avoidance/attraction behaviours and navigation/orientation capabilities). 

We will generate electromagnetic fields in the laboratory using a range of techniques, including provision of high voltage cable sections. Following ethical guidelines, fish will be exposed to the electric and electromagnetic fields generated, and the behavioural response will be monitored closely and quantified. We will be specifically focussing on Ammodytes sp. (sandeels), S. canicular (Small-spotted catshark), and C. harengus (Atlantic herring). These species were selected to cover a wide range of ecological niches, trophic level and commercial importance. Ammodytes sp. represents a demersal, small-bodied species, which is a valuable food source for predatory marine fishes, marine mammals and birds. S. canicula is a small demersal scavenger, feeding on small fish, molluscs and crabs. C. harengus is one of the most commercially important species around Northern Europe with close food web links to other groups. The findings will have direct applied relevance to the development of offshore wind and is likely to be influential in setting policy related to environmental impact assessment and mitigation. 


The INSPIRE DTP programme provides comprehensive personal and professional development training alongside extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/policy partners. The student will be registered at the University of Southampton and hosted at FEPS (Boldrewood Innovation Campus), Specific training will include:

  • Experimental ecology
  • Fish husbandry
  • Ecology of marine fish
  • Understanding the physics of electricity and electromagnetism
  • Bioinformatics
  • Data analysis and visualization (mainly in R)
  • Presentation skills (oral and written)
  • Teamwork
  • Scientific writing


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