The Nansen Legacy is now halfway through its six-year project period, looking back at more than 300 days of fieldwork at sea in the high Arctic. A wealth of samples and data are starting to unravel new insights on the physical-, chemical- and living systems of the northern Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Ocean.
Nansen Legacy data are increasingly adding to a detailed mapping of the inflow and impact of relatively warm Atlantic Water to the Arctic Ocean, the variability and trends in sea ice loss in the past, present and future, the increased occurrence of marine heatwaves also in the Barents Sea, as well as the impact of changed ocean-atmosphere heat exchange on weather predictions. Nansen Legacy investigations have also increasingly shed light on the potential impacts of human activities to the Arctic marine food web, like the accumulation and impact of environmental pollutants in Arctic marine animals, ocean acidification and fisheries. The project also has generated extraordinary detailed data and insights on biological processes that are at the core for the ecosystems function and services.
During the project’s annual meeting, the status and the future of the Barents Sea were addressed in many presentations, including scenarios pointing to an ice-free Barents Sea also during winter at the end of this century, given business as usual CO2 emissions. Discussions on mechanisms and pathways for knowledge-to-policy were well attended from both scientists and members of the Nansen Legacy reference group, representing different stakeholders.
The project is now entering a new phase with more focus on results and integration across disciplines as well as regions, placing the northern Barents Sea into the larger pan-Arctic picture.
Nansen Legacy researchers were gathered last week in October. Photo: Maria Rossi, UNIS