To puzzle the pieces together

In science, it is difficult to understand the whole picture when you only have fractions. As a puzzle, the Barents Sea is lacking some of the pieces to be a complete picture that you can hang on the wall.

We use the information from the cruises – where we collect and sample on different sites in the Barents Sea, but we also use satellites and modelling as a tool to get to know the Barents Sea better. When we combine these two – the puzzle comes together and we can understand and see more.

On Nansen Legacy’s annual meeting this year, Morten Skogen from HI talked about the importance to connect those two to understand and get a complete picture.

“It is a classical misconception that observations are truth. Both observations and models are approximations of the truth. Neither is perfect, but has their own strengths and weaknesses, Skogen says”

Morten Skogen, HI

Observations are incomplete sampling in time and space, thus much of the truth goes unobserved, while models offer high resolution in time and space, but with an incomplete parameterization of processes and components of the natural system.

“Awareness of these limitations are crucial in science, he says”

The quality of observations is largely affected by the sampling scheme, and numerical models can be used to optimize monitoring programs to increase the value of observations. The combination of high precision local observations with the large patterns taken from models (see picture below), is the best way to utilize all available information.

Truth - difficult and complex picture

Going forward, it should not be models or observations, but rather models and observations. Using them together generates synergy and allows us to support science better and thereby increase our knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems to disclose the truth.

Fact box: 

  • The Nansen Legacy project constitutes an integrated Arctic perspective on climate and ecosystem change, from physical processes to living resources, and from understanding the past to predicting the future.
  • The Nansen Legacy team is purposefully interdisciplinary including physical, chemical, and biological researchers from eight governmental Norwegian institutions, and two private research institutes.
  • The involved institutes are: UiT Arctic University of Norway,  University of Bergen, University of Oslo, University Centre in Svalbard, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norwegian Polar Institute, Institute of Marine Research, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center and Akvaplan-Niva
  • The Nansen Legacy field component uses a combination of ship-based, moored, and autonomous technological platforms. To increase high-resolution observational capabilities leading to an increase in future forecast reliability, the Nansen Legacy will develop, test and apply novel advanced technologies in ice-covered regions.
  • The Nansen Legacy will provide a 2020–2100 outlook for the expected state of climate, sea ice, and ecosystem, including near-term predictions.
  • The Nansen Legacy will contribute to international research and a comprehensive pan-Arctic understanding.
  • Every year (except 2020 when the annual meeting was online) all the scientist in the project meet up in the annual meeting discussing and showing their latest findings and research across disciplines.