Five scientists affiliated with ArcticABC participated in the 20th Gordon Research Conference on Polar Marine Science which was held in Ventura, USA, from March 26th to 31st. Jørgen Berge and Finlo Cottier both had an invited oral contribution during the panel presentations, respectively on biological activities during the polar night and on the use of technology to study the marine ecosystems. Malin Daase presented a poster on a long-term data set of zooplankton samples collected around Svalbard, Laura Hobbs presented a poster on the use of Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler data to study biological processes, and Maxime Geoffroy presented a poster on the first observations of the jellyfish Periphylla periphylla in a high Arctic fjord. Hobbs and Geoffroy also presented their studies orally during the Gordon Research Seminar for early career scientists, which was held prior to the Conference. The Gordon Research Conference and Seminar proved to be excellent opportunities for the scientists to share findings related to ArcticABC with their peers and to gain more knowledge on the most up-to-date science being conducted in marine polar environments. Several colleagues from the ARCTOS network also participated in the conference.
Preparations are nearly complete for Arctic ABC winter fieldwork in January 2017. These include a cruise into the Polar Night aboard the RV Helmer Hanssen, and the “Polar night biology and underwater robotics” course in Ny-Ålesund. Cargo has been shipped, and we’ll gather just after the New Year to begin work – many more exiting posts to come.
Light is a key measurement that will be made during both the cruise and course. One aspect we are looking into is the balance between atmospheric light (from the sun, moon, stars, and aurora) and bioluminescence (light produced by animals living in the water). As you can see in the images below, atmospheric light is fairly dim during Polar Night, but many marine organisms are bioluminescent. Recently published measurements we made in 2014-2016 have identified depths where underwater light transitions from atmospheric to bioluminescent. On the upcoming cruise, we’ll map this transition depth starting in Tromsø where atmospheric light is relatively bright and continuing further north to the marginal ice zone north of Svalbard where it is much darker. This information will help to understand the interactions among marine organisms in the Polar Night, and through Arctic ABC, their interactions in a changing Arctic.
Photo: Jonathan Cohen, Geir Johnsen