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, 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.
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.
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.
CLEOPATRA II: Climate effects on planktonic food quality and trophic transfer in Arctic Marginal Ice Zones II ended officially 1 of July 2015.
This highly international 3-year project has so far resulted in one completed PhD thesis and 3 completed master theses. At present eight papers are published, two articles are in review, and 8 manuscripts are in progress. In addition, project results have been presented at several national and international meetings and conferences (34 presentations in all) and the project has been highly visible in media with a number of popular science articles, videos and blogs. The latest in Science and Technology. For an overview of publications and outreach see this section.
The time-lapse video that was made during the Marine Night campaign this last winter was included also as a supplementary material in latest paper on activity of organisms during polar night. Until last week, this video lived a quite and rather anonymous life on YouTube, where just a little bit more than 2000 people had watched it. But that was until our paper was highlighted by the BBC New last week. Following this exposure, the video was posted on the BBC Science News Facebook, and within just a few days more than 3 million people had watched the wonders of the polar night. And the number is still growing (although, currently, not that rapidly), translated into Turkish, Russian and Arabic and placed in their YT channels, shared 8000+ times and got very interesting comments including the ones concerning politics, religion or even water on Mars... Probably one of the best (it got also the greatest number of answers), was the question: “Why did the snake lie in the same position for 2 days ?” ...and maybe “But, is the fish ok?” All this created so much noise that e-mails started to show up and Thomson-Reuters and Weather.com want to use this video…
More mentions of the paper and/or the video:
Following the combined CircA - Marine Night - Arctic ABC meeting in Oban in May, a news story appeared in the BBC news based on the exciting and strong collaboration between The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and Norwegian partners. Together with the FAABolous project lead by Dr E. Leu at APN, the story focus on the start of our two new projects and the role of SAMS as a key partner. You can find the news article here and the radio programme here (starting at approx. 16:45)
outreach tab. A meeting summary can be found here.For one week, from 1-5th of June 2015 the three ARCTOS and Mare Incognitum projects CircA, Marine Night and Arctic ABC hosted a meeting at SAMS. For CircA, this is the last project meeting, as we are now well within our final year. The meeting was therefore primarily aimed at writing up papers. For Maine Night, the meeting is a midterm meeting that marks the transition from a field campaign phase to a writing phase. The main aim during the meeting was to inform each other as to where we are following the two large field campaigns that have been hosted in Kongsfjorden January 2014 and 2015, and to prepare a plan for writing up papers. For Arctic ABC, this was a kick-off meeting during which we discussed and planned the ice tethered observatories. For an overview of talks and presentations, please see the "Oban meeting presentations" section in the
Diel vertical migration (DVM) of zooplankton is a characteristic feature of the world’s oceans and lakes, and has been claimed to be the largest synchronized movement of biomass on the planet. Since the phenomenon was first detected almost two centuries ago (in 1817), there have been numerous studies into both the adaptive significance of this behaviour and its ecosystem consequence. A migration of animals to the surface layer at night allows zooplankton to feed in food-rich waters with reduced likelihood of detection by visual predators (predator-avoidance hypothesis), whereas during daytime they seek refuge in the darkness of the deep. The period around equinox, when the day and night are equally long are known to be a peak period for this type of migration, as it holds a significant advantage to each individual to be able to hide away down in the deep during the bright day and to migrate up in the surface waters during the night to feed on the many small algae and smaller zooplankton that live there. Predators in the pelagic generally use two main feeding modes; they either search for prey using vision (visual predators, e.g. many fish, birds and large zooplankton) or they search for prey by sensing vibrations and movements (tactile predators, many zooplankton). As a result, the prey encounter of visually searching predators is tightly bound to the light regime and prey encounter will be a function of day and night, time of the year and latitude. The extreme seasonality of high latitudes, including the polar night, creates a unique research laboratory for our endeavours to understand the relative roles of different prey encounter modes and for the functioning and constraints of visual predators in the north. To read more about the results, see these recent articles (Norwegian/Icelandic) , or wait for the story to appear in a scientific journal or other media soon..!
Back when the Vikings ruled, blue mussels had a natural habitat in Svalbard. They disappeared when the climate cooled, but today blue mussels have re-established themselves at 78 degrees North. The Svalbard blue mussel is thus a clear and present climate indicator of a warming Arctic. The reappearence of the blue mussels is in the focus of the Marine Night PhD student Peter Leopold. At several occasions the topic has been in the media recently:
- An unexpected guest
- Outreach in the aftermath of Marine Night 2015
- Marine night exhibition in Tromsø
- New member of the Mare Incognitum family
- Marine Night seminar for Kings Bay with first results
- Marine Night technician Daniel Vogedes defended PhD
- Mare Incognitum at the Arctic Change conference in Ottawa (Canada)
- Big Black Box Workshop in Tromsø 19 and 20 January
- Cleopatra II & COPPY project meeting @ AWI
- Report from the dark side