Continuing the Legacy

Continuing the Legacy of the first explorers

The first explorers to visit the Barents Sea arrived more than 500 years ago, and discovered abundant wildlife and rich fishing on the many shallow banks. These areas have drawn a steady stream of visitors over time, providing us with a good historical record of conditions that show large air-ice-ocean climate variability in the Barents Sea.

Old sailing logs for example reveal that the winter of 1866 was particularly severe, with the April sea ice edge  reaching its southernmost recorded position covering most of the Barents Sea.

Old whaling logbook describing environmental settings and whales caught (Photo: Ann Eileen Lennert).

In comparison, recent years have seen the smallest winter ice extents on record with only about  30% of the sea ice that used to be present. The Natural Drivers Research Foci will advance our understanding of these ongoing changes in the years ahead.

Ice Bar 1996, Fellestoktet : oseanografisk tokt
Sea Ice thickness observations during Ice-Bar 1996 in the Northwestern Barents Sea. Reinert Korsnes (NPI) and Lars H. Smedsrud (UiB) are mapping under ice topography. Back in 1996 the sea ice cover was still thick and more abundant than now (Photo: Stig Falk-Petersen, AkvaPlan Niva).