Outside the temperature is crawling up just above zero, and on Svalbard the sun will soon be continuously orbiting the sky. Here in Tromsø we still have a little while until the light have completely defeated the darkness, but no doubt the dark and hectic days of our polar night expedition in January seems long gone! However, just as the trolls have to retreat into their caves and borrows to hide away from the sunlight, so are many of us about to hide away in order to count, analyze, reflect and hopefully write up most of the exciting discoveries we made this season!
A few major dark moments (equivalent to highlights for those who do not focus on the polar night…)) of the season, listed in a strictly subjective way – many other results would no doubt warrant a place on this list!
- Werewolves are abundant! Kim Last is leading this work, in which we look at how the pelagic community is responding to lunar light. This will be one of the main endeavors during this spring, and we hope to have this finished by the early autumn.
- Presence of active phytoplankton in the water column. Eva Leu is leading this work, and will probably consider the season 2014 as a pilot season and prepare a more thorough study in 2015.
- Quantification of light in the dark. This was a major component of the underwater robotics and polar night biology course, and included several prototypes of various sensors. These pioneering measurements of biologically relevant light will be at the core of 2-3 manuscript currently in a preparatory phase.
- Last, but not the least – for the first time ever, stomachs of seabirds from the polar night have been collected and analyzed. Data from the limited dataset collected so far strongly indicate that at least the alcids were not starving…this will be continued in 2015!
Many more results and data would surely be worth mentioning and highlighting, these four examples were just some of the quite narrow-minded expedition leaders personal favorites. But all will be revealed in papers coming your way soon..! First in line is the polar night special issue in Polar Biology, so far with seven papers published online awaiting assignment to a printed volume (Morata et al 2014a and b, Brown et al 2014, Båtnes et al 2014, Webster et al 2014, Johnsen et al 2014 and Falk-Petersen et al 2014). There have also been a large variety of outreach activities, from radio interviews to a news article in an Australian newspaper. You can find all them on our publications and outreach page!
The dark lord Berge