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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.

Congratulations Dr. Hobbs!

Congratulations Dr. Hobbs!

An award winning Dr. of the CircA project in Mare Incognitum

Dr. Laura Hobbs receives award for Postgraduate of the Year 2016 by UHI

New monster from the deep

New monster from the deep

Archeologists fear it, biologists love it

First record of a shipworm in Arctic waters

Cruising in the dark

Cruising in the dark

A new year has started - time to continue our dark activities

Cutting-edge autonomous vehicles and traditional sampling in the polar night

Werewolves! Here is the published proof!

Werewolves! Here is the published proof!

Beyond any doubt: Werewolves migrate

Finally the proof for werewolf activities has been published in Current Biology!

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FAABulous project meeting 2016

The FAABulous project (led by Eva Leu, Akvaplan-niva, funded by NRC 2015-2020) had its annual meeting 12.-14.10.2016. 19 participants gathered in a hotel outside Oslo to update each other on the past year's data collection, experimental and modeling activities, and started discussing the field work for 2017. The FAABulous project is closely connected with the ARCTOS network, and in particular in overcoming this year's challenges with field sampling under ice-free conditions (that was not planned), we profited greatly from the help, support and the willingness to improvise amongst our friends and colleagues. Thanks!

ArcticABC intense autumn meeting

Arctic ABC(D) had their project meeting in Tromsø 10-12 October 2016. As many as 26 of us participated in lively discussion and presentations at Sydspissen Hotel.  Representatives from the technology, biology, modelling and end-user forum groups provided all with updates on progress made. Overviews of the upcoming 2017 and later field campaigns laid the foundation for subsequent in-depth discussions of the many details to be considered for these field campaigns. These will include testing the prototype POPE buoys in Kongsfjorden in January 2017, conducting studies related to light and life cycle strategies in January on RV Helmer Hanssen, testing the POPE buoys for the first time in sea ice in van Mijenfjorden in March-April 2017, and preparing for the first tests in pack-ice in May-June north of Svalbard. Social evenings coloured by spectacular northern lights provided for a relaxed atmosphere for further discussion.



Polar night exhibition moved to Trondheim!

The polar night exhibition, which opened in Tromso in January 2015, has now found a new temporary home in the Science museum in Trondheim. It is the same exhibition as the one from Tromso, except that it also contains a few new and more technology focuses elements. And it now has its very own music specially composed by Bias (Tobias Johnsen). Geir Johnsrn, Asgeir Sørensen and Jørgen Berge took part in the opening. Geir Johnsen and Asgeir Sørensen had a tour with NRK direct on radio right after the opening.

NRK radio program

"Gemini" short video on exhibition (Norwegian)

FAABulous mooring stories...

During the UNIS/Arctic ABC cruise in Svalbard in late August the moorings that were set out for the FAABulous project were retrieved. Unfortunately, one was lost – probably due to strong currents close to Akselsundet, but on the remaining ones, everything seems to have worked out as planned, and we are looking forward to deal with a unique dataset during the coming months. Great thanks to Daniel and Finlo (and everyone else involved in these operations).

Read more about the proceedings of this project here.

Dr. Laura Hobbs: Postgraduate student of the Year!

The Mare Incognitum family is glad to announce that Laura Hobbs, a former PhD student in the recently finished CircA project, has been named Postgraduate of the year! Dr. Hobbs has been a PhD student at the Mare Incognitum partner SAMS in Oban, Scotland, and receives this award by the University of the Highlands and Islands. She has been nominated by her former supervisor Dr. Finlo Cottier, who is also part of several Mare Incognitum teams. During her project, Laura focused on the mysterious activities of Arctic zooplankton during the polar night. For more infomation please have a look at the CircA project page and visit SAMS. You might also want to check out the excellent publication on the mysteries of zooplankton moonlight migration.


The 2nd FAABulous cruise (KV Svalbard)

The FAABulous project (studying Future Arctic Algae Blooms – and their role in the context of climate change) was this winter/spring challenged by historically little sea ice in Arctic areas, in particular in the European sector, including Svalbard and the Barents Sea (for scientific data on the sea ice extent and the related temperature anomalies check out these sites:, and

The planned sea ice-based field work had to be cancelled, and we needed a plan B to capture this highly unusual situation that presents us a truly future situation that we would not have expected to experience already now.

Luckily, we got granted cruise time on the coast guard vessel KV Svalbard at the end of April. 

We went to the almost completely ice-free van Mijenfjorden to take samples of phytoplankton and zooplankton, as well as CTD data along a transect from the innermost part of the fjord until the fjord mouth. We found a strong diatom-dominated spring bloom in the outermost part of the fjord, while the water temperature in the inner basins was still below 0°C, and the chl a concentrations were very low. For more details about the cruise, see here (link to field campaigns), as well as, or

Arctic ABC and Arctic ABC Development project meeting

Last week, participants in the two projects gathered in Tromsø for the second ABC meeting. This year, the meeting was organised in two parallel sections: While the technology group spent the entire week in Tromsø, testing out equipment in an ice covered lake outside Tromsø (there was no sea ice left in Ramfjorden, so we had to move operations to a lake instead), the entire group met for a two-day meeting (Summary minutes PDF). The main purpose of the meeting was to ensure that the development of the ice tethered observatories - ICE-POPEs (ICE tethered Platform-cluster for Optical, Physical and Ecological sensors) - is under control and according to plan. And so it is!

The alien from the deep

The alien hunters with the alien watercraft (Photo: Martin Ludvigsen)
The alien hunters with the alien watercraft (Photo: Martin Ludvigsen)
Up with a tree in Rijpfjorden came a new and surprising inhabitant - a shipworm. Until now we have basically assumed that this group of organisms does not occur in Arctic waters. This new and exciting finding have important implications both for our understanding of the local benthic fauna and not the least for preservation of known and hitherto undiscovered wrecks along the coast of Svalbard!

Read more in ScienceSvalbardposten,, Nettavisen and Nordlys (the latter four in Norwegian).

Wood with worm (Photo: Geir Johnsen)
Wood with worm (Photo: Geir Johnsen)


New year = new polar night cruise

Photo: Kajetan Deja
Photo: Kajetan Deja
From 8-24 January 2016 the 5th consecutive Polar Night cruise with RV Helmer Hanssen took place. As in previous years, the cruise took place in Svalbard waters. The scientific program started in Isfjorden before Helmer Hanssen brought us north to Smeerenburgfjorden, Rijpfjorden and close to the ice edge to 81 N. The second leg of the cruise focused as in previous years on investigating processes in Kongsfjorden. We did not encounter any landfast or drift ice during the cruise. This Polar Night cruise was mainly a contribution to two Mare Incognitum projects: Arctic ABC and Marine Night, as well the UiT master course BIO-8510 ARCTOS - Marine ecological research cruise to Svalbard. The scientific program included sampling zooplankton, benthic and fish communities using traditional methods (nets, trawls, grabs and box corer) as well as applying modern technologies such as the Acoustical fish and zooplankton profiler as well as a number of optical methods (Video Plankton Recorder, Laser Optical Plankton Counter,
Photo: Kajetan Deja
Photo: Kajetan Deja
under water bottom camera, ROVs and hyperspectral imaging systems). In addition to the biological program, marine archaeological research was conducted in Isfjorden and Smeerenburg using automated under water vehicles (AUV) and ROVs equipped with imaging systems. We were also very successful in deploying a Jetyak (automated kayak). Equipped with optical and acoustical sensors the Jetyak can do measurements further away from the research vessel thus conducting measurements of light and vertical migrations of zooplankton in areas undisturbed by light emitted from the boat. A lot of great discoveries and new insights into the secrets of the polar night were gained – some of which will appear in media in the weeks to come (see links below), others in scientific journals later in the year or next year.  Overall, the cruise was very successful with all planned sampling running smoothly and the weather being cooperative.

Svalbardposten 31.01.2016

Svalbardposten 07.02.2016

Svalbardposten 11.02.2016


The werewolves are back

Werewolves have become known as the pets of the polar night researchers. Both in the CircA and in the Marine Night project much attention was paid to their behaviour and how the lunar cycle affects their behaviour. A newly published paper under the lead of Kim S. Last in Current Biology sheds some (moon-)light on these mysteries. The paper is accompanied by a “behind the scenes” video produced by SAMS. You can download the paper “Moonlight Drives Ocean-Scale Mass Vertical Migration of Zooplankton during the Arctic Winter” (Current Biology 26, 1-8, 2016) here (open access) and watch the video below or in Youtube here. The paper had a massive media impact, include mentions in the New York Times and New Scientist. A comprehensive list of all media coverage can be found in the CircA publications and outreach section

The Arctic Polar night seen from an Antarctic expert

Studies carried out on a wide variety of Arctic species during the polar night reveal continued feeding, growth and reproduction, changing our view of this period from one of biological stasis to a time of continued high activity levels. Prof Geraint Tarling from the British Antarctic Survey use his experience as a polar researcher to place the recent findings from the polar night (Berge et al 2015 in Current Biology) in a wider context. Download the Tarling 2015 paper here.

Mare upcoming events


09.10.2017 - 13.10.2017


08.11.2017 - 10.11.2017

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.