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Not only biology

Not only biology

ArcticABC researchers Njord Wegge and Kathrin Stephen return to the roots of geopolitical reasoning

Photo: Jakob Østheim/Forsvaret

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Gliders, waves and the wild Arctic Ocean

Gliders, waves and the wild Arctic Ocean

All over the place!

ABC, SIZE and PRIZE join forces on the Helmer Hanssen

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"Thaw" - a short doc in 3 episodes featuring the Polar Night cruise

"Thaw" - a short doc in 3 episodes featuring the Polar Night cruise

Follow the team into the dark!

Eli Kintisch who joined the Polar Night cruise in January 2018 has published three episodes on climate change, featuring UiT and SAMS researchers

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Polar Night exhibition heads East

Polar Night exhibition heads East

Now also in Russian: Polar Night around the globe!

Recently the Polar Night exhibition moved yet again. This time to Moscow, Russia.

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Dark times ahead

Dark times ahead

While other escape to the South, we head North - again!

Once again an expedition beyond daylight is in preparation. Meanwhile, new findings from earlier expeditions have seen the light of day.

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The werewulf hunt in the media

Kim Last on board Farm
Kim Last on board Farm
Recently, both Forskning.no and Svalbardposten published two articles covering our December campaign and hunt for the werewolves. Below is a more personalised view on the campaign from one of it’s members - Dr Kim Last from the Scottish Association of Marine Science:

 

Into the night with lunartick zooplankton

“But are you sure those blobs are real?” is the only comment Jørgen Berg (project leader of the CIRCA project) makes after looking quizzically at the coloured data chart lying on the table in front of us. I fidget, the data was showing something that we hadn’t expected during the Polar Night with the “blobs” representing zooplankton that were apparently migrating in response to moonlight, not sunlight. “Probably” I say. Jorgen pauses and in typical Norwegian no-nonsense fashion says “well then, let’s go find out”? Little was I to know that I had inadvertently started a whole field campaign, all based on some coloured “blobs”!

For the last few years we have been studying zooplankton migrating up and down in the water in response to sunlight. Using acoustics, patterns are emerging that show very clear synchronised migrations in the autumn and spring but limited activity during the darkest months of December and January. Now, using new data analysis and visualisation techniques (normally associated with studying biological rhythms in flies, mice and humans) we are seeing patterns in zooplankton migration which are quite new. During the time of the full moon these small organisms appear to migrate with a new cycle, not the 24 hour cycle of the rising and setting of the sun which we are so familiar with, but one of the rising and setting of the moon, a lunar-day or lunidian cycle close to 25 hours!

The main aim of the field campaign this December is to go “fishing” during the time of the full and new moon with various types of nets and cameras to find out who is doing the migrating. Specifically how deep do they migrate, and how fast, and can they anticipate the rising and setting of the moon? To this end we also want to know if the zooplankton possess a biological clock? We already know that just about every animal and plant possesses an in-built clock, the best known of which is the circadian clock. Many of us are even familiar with its workings, or rather when it stops working so well when it becomes re-set during long-haul flights and we experience jet-lag as a consequence. So we can hypothesis that the migrating zooplankton may also have a clock. Therefore another aim of this trip is to catch some live zooplankton and study them in the lab under constant conditions without moonlight. If they still behave as though they were out in the sea by becoming active when they “think” the moon is up, then we will know that they possess a lunar clock. This would help explain how they manage to migrate to the surface from the dark ocean depths where currently our light sensors cannot detect any light.

Working in the Arctic during the polar night is no mean feat with total darkness 24 hours a day and often the thermometer falls to -20oC for weeks on end. Although Jørgen is a toughened Polar scientist, I am not, and as I sit here on the flight to Svalbard in December clutching my laptop with the infamous “blobs” I am experiencing just a little trepidation. Looking out the window of the plane to the north I can see the night stretching out in front of me, like a big heavy blanket, the last of the sunshine left behind somewhere over mainland Norway. I wonder perhaps whether my own clock may become a little dysfunctional over the next weeks without any form of solar re-setting and I look up and see the moon as only a silver sickle and wonder what is going on down there in the deep dark waters… well, it’s time to find out!

Kim S. Last

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Mare upcoming events

Jul
12

12.07.2018 14:00 - 15:00

The Mare Incognitum projects are members of the ARCTOS research network

The Mare Incognitum web pages are maintained by Marine Night technician Daniel Vogedes, UiT.

The content is provided by the projects, for comments please check the project pages and contact the project leader.