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 researchersMore...
Marine ecological processes during the polar night – what do we know and how to proceed?
UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Campus Tromsø, 19th – 20th January 2015
The extended period of Arctic darkness, known as the polar night, may limit organism survival and reproductive success because of the associated food limitation. Even if the polar night only exist for +/-4 months, depending on latitude, Arctic marine environments may experience complete darkness for up to ten months because of extensive sea ice and snow conditions. A long overwintering period and a brief growing season are likely the main barriers for “temperate/lower latitude” species to keep sustainable populations in the Arctic. The temperate species lack the life history adaptations of high-Arctic species that allow them to cope with such extreme seasonality. However, our knowledge on winter ecology is extremely poor in comparison to ecological processes during the productive summer season. Gathering additional information on polar night ecology and processes is crucial, especially in light of expected impacts of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems. We therefore invite you to this Big Black Box workshop to convene an international group of experts to
1) develop one white paper summarizing existing knowledge on winter ecology in the Arctic
2) identify the most critical knowledge-gaps
3) discuss a new international initiative/program focusing on polar night ecology
Deadline for travel funding 16 December 2014
Deadline for signing up 6 January 2015
Information and invitation: PDF
Application for funding: PDF
End of November German, Russian and Norwegian scientists and students involved in the projects CLEOPATRA II and COPPY met at Alfred Wegener Institute to discuss project results and publications. Project leader Janne E. Søreide (UNIS) gave also a lecture on stable isotope and fatty acid trophic markers at the weekly AWI colloquium with title:
Sympagic-pelagic-benthic coupling in Arctic marine ecosystems revealed by stable isotopic and fatty acid tracers
(for the talk see this PDF).
Is there a stronger resilience to climate change in Arctic marine organisms than anticipated? These organisms have evoloved unique adaptations to survive strong seasonal changes which may make them less vulnerable. The CLEOPATRA II project focuses on the Arctic zooplankton physiology and life history to predict the degree of match/mismatch of key biological proecesses in a changing Arctic. Read more in the recent outreach article in Science and Technology.
In the beginning of June the Cleopatra II team held a project meeting at UNIS in Longyearbyen. During three intense days all participants presented their work in progress – from zooplankton community analysis, lipids and stable isotopes, life history strategies to mortality risks and modelling. All in all it was a very successful meeting and several publications have been outlined. You can find the full meeting agenda here and the participant list here. Group picture by Eva Therese Jenssen, UNIS.
CLEOPATRA II has recently been in the field again, where also a combined UNIS master/PhD course was heavily involved. During May this year 19 master and PhD students from 11 different nations were introduced to the field sampling techniques in CLEOPATRA II during the 1 week long field work in Van Mijenfjorden, Svalbard in the course AB-330: Ecosystems in ice covered waters. The students got hands on experience in all the sampling gear and lab work which was carried out during the regular field campaigns. From ice cores to sediment samples a whole range of parameters were measured, resulting in lots of data both for the course and for CLEOPATRA II. In all campaigns a portable ROV was used to prepare under-ice sampling and for visual inspection of the under-ice surface. You can have a look a some footage from the ROV deployments at three different fjords and check out the variation in under-ice surface properties here:
Jasmine Nahrgang and coauthors have recently published a paper in PLOS ONE on the life history, reproductive strategy and effects of climate change on polar cod (Boeogadus saida). First of all, the paper for the first time ever document the existence oft a gender specific reproductive strategy in polar cod. Secondly, the paper compare wild populations from two fjords (Rijfjorden and Kongsfjorden) influenced by Arctic and Atlantic water masses, respectively, in order to predict how a future warmer Arctic will influence the ecological key species. Read the original research paper from PLOS ONE or some of the media coverage on the paper (below). The work is part of the Polaristaion project (http://site.uit.no/polarisation/), but is also connected to Circa.
Dagens Næringsliv 31.05.2014: Polartorsk på tallerkene (PDF)
Adressa.no 02.12.2014: Mangfold i fare (online)
As part of the Marine Night project and in connection with the polar night cruises organised by Arctos and UiT during the last successive four winters, Stig Falk-Petersen and colleges have recently published a paper on the connection between the distribution of Bowheads, climate change and oceanographic processes typical for periods with little sea ice. The title of the work is “At the Rainbow end”, and deals with the massive upwelling processes dominating the Arctic shelf regions that are only able to occur during periods of reduced ice cover. The main hypothesis of the paper is that this upwelling fuel a increased primary and secondary production, and literately that this was the very basis for the existence of the large populations of bowheads that once dominated the Whalers Bay region north of Svalbard. Read more about the findings both in the original scientific paper and through links to various media coverage of the work:
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
- Marine Night article by Eva Leu in Aftenposten
- Update from Marine Night in Ny-Ålesund
- The werewulf hunt in the media
- Werewolf hunt with obstacles (and isicles)
- Polar Night special issue - first online articles
- Marine Night in Svalbardposten
- Life's little mysteries!
- January 2014 - When the night will come alive
- Secrets of the winter hibernation
- 2013 mooring campaign - success!