The 14th of April, CHOCO and the Northern Norwegian Science Center arranged a CO2-day in the eye height of children. The aim was to show various aspects of this chemical molecule, as well as research done on CO2.
The Nansen Legacy was of cause on board for that day. Carbon dioxide, ocean acidification, and the biological carbon cycle are at the core of much of the Nansen Legacy’s research. But what and how do we research carbon in the Arctic oceans?
Carbon dioxide is taken up by the ocean from the atmosphere. In the ocean, CO2 is partly utilized by minute algae during photosynthesis, and transformed into organic carbon. This algae-produced organic carbon forms the energetic basis for most life in the sea. Understanding which factors steer the production of organic carbon by algae is therefore essential for the discussion on the carrying capacity and management of a sea. Ongoing climatic changes are already significantly changing the timing of the organic carbon production in Arctic areas, with subsequent consequences for energy transfer, carbon export to the sea floor and potentially substantial impacts on fishery yields. The Nansen Legacy will therefore dedicated both much man-power and ship-time on measuring CO2 up-take by marine and ice-attached algae, as well as the transfer of organic carbon through the food chain.
Increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are also increasing CO2 concentrations in the sea, where they lead to an acidification of the water. Ocean acidification affects some calcifying organisms such as shellfish, echinoderms, and mollusks directly by dissolution of their calcareous body structures. The Nansen Legacy will hence a dedicated study of the effects of the acidification on sensitive Arctic organisms.
Some of the research questions we ask are:
Q1. What are the current drivers of ocean acidification and how is ocean acidification affecting marine organisms and their adaptive capacity in the northern Barents Sea and the adjacent slope to the central Arctic Basin?
Q2 .What is the magnitude and variability in primary production?
Q3. How and at what rate does carbon cycle through the food web in the northern Barents Sea?
But who are the cows of the sea?
Copepods are tiny little swimmers found in all oceans. Just like cows eat grass on land, so does the copepods, eating algae in the sea. A part of the CO2 absorbed in the algae goes over to the body of the copepods and therefore they are an important part of the oceans carbon cycle.