Seven at one blow – The Nansen Legacy field campaigns in 2021

The Nansen Legacy disposed over 350 days of ship time to ensure high-resolution sampling of physical, chemical and biological parameters of the ecosystems of the northern Barents Sea and the adjacent Arctic Ocean.

By now, the project has completed 17 research expeditions, of which six alone were conducted in 2021. In addition to this six research expeditions, the Nansen Legacy and ARCTOS Research Network arranged a PhD research summer school at sea in 2021. Hence, the project is looking back at a very busy and productive year in the field despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has required additional safety measures and preparations for the fieldwork.

The following Nansen Legacy research cruises have taken place in 2021:

Winter Process Cruise 2021
9. February – 1. March 2021. The Winter Process Cruise was an air-ice-ocean interaction cruise with concurrent measurements in the ocean, the atmosphere and in sea ice. Further, the cruise was used to develop advanced robot technology and self-propelled crafts in both ocean and atmosphere in order to study the Polar Front and air-ice-ocean interaction in more detail. Beside the Polar Front in the Barents Sea, Kvitøyarenna – a deep trench between Nordaustlandet and Kvitøya – was studied. Here, a sea ice camp was established allowing the collection of data in the atmosphere, in the sea ice and in the water column during a 36 hours drift.

Seasonal cruise Q1

2-24. March 2021. The Nansen Legacy cruise Q1 (Q1: 1st quarter of the year) was part of the seasonal investigation of the northern Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Basin. The cruise focused on comparing the physical, chemical and biological conditions along the Nansen Legacy main transect in open waters and within the sea ice. Special emphasis was on the investigation of ice and snow thickness at different scales (a few hundred meters of the ship to regional scale).

Seasonal cruise Q2

27. April –  20. May 2021. Also the Nansen Legacy cruise Q2 (Q2: 2nd quarter of the year) was part of the seasonal investigation of the northern Barents Sea and the adjacent Arctic Basin. The cruise was conducted during the spring period – a biologically critical time window during which a large part of the annual primary production occurs. The expedition focused on comparing the physical, chemical and biological conditions along the Nansen Legacy main transect in open waters and within the sea ice. Use of divers and implementation of remotely operated technology facilitated increased under-ice studies.

ARCTOS-Nansen Legacy Polar Front summer school cruise

14. May -22. May 2021. The ARCTOS-Nansen Legacy Polar Front expedition focused on the hydrography and biological processes in the Barents Sea Polar Front region during the highly productive phytoplankton spring-bloom period. The cruise was part of a PhD summer school and thirteen early career scientists with widely varying backgrounds and affiliations participated in the cruise and were introduced to hands-on marine science, for many of them for the first time in their lives.

Joint Cruise 2-1

12.– 26. July 2021. This cruise was the project’s third late-summer cruise (following JC1-2 in August 2018 and Q3 in August 2019) and provided an opportunity to investigate the inter-annual variability along the Nansen Legacy transect. Also, the Joint Cruise 2-1 formed the shelf component to the subsequent Arctic Basin Joint Cruise (JC2-2) in August/September 2021. Tests and modification of equipment to operate pelagic trawls in ice covered waters were also conducted.

Arctic Basin Joint Cruise 2-2

24. August – 24. September 2021. The main scientific goal of the Arctic Basin Joint Cruise 2-2 was to extend the research activities from the northern Barents Sea shelf into the central Arctic Ocean. The station plan covered a transect of 2330 km – from the Nansen Basin northeast of the Svalbard slope in the south, to the northern side of the Amundsen Basin just south of the Lomonosov Ridge in the north. A special goal of the cruise was to sample from the sea ice and the upper ocean, as well as to study the connectivity to the mid- and deep water column and underlying sediments. In addition, the expedition explored the role of transport of elements and organisms from the Siberian shelves to the Amundsen Basin through the Transpolar Drift.

The Arctic Basin Joint Cruise was a Norwegian contribution to the international Synoptic Arctic Survey (SAS) and took place at the same time as the Swedish icebreaker Oden was on their SAS expedition in the nearby region between Northeast Greenland and the North Pole.

Nansen Legacy / A-TWAIN Mooring Cruise

06. November – 16. November 2021. The Nansen Legacy and the A-TWAIN project joined forces for this mooring cruise. The main goal was the service of the A-TWAIN moorings on the shelf and slope north of Svalbard and the Nansen Legacy moorings in the northern and central Barents Sea. In addition, transects for physical, chemical and biological measurements were done at key sites for long-term monitoring of the Atlantic Water boundary current north of Svalbard (A-TWAIN) and spatial context of the conditions at the mooring sites (Nansen Legacy).

Bilde 2_Amalia i dykkehullet med sugepumpe, Mikko som linemann, og Libby Jones hjelper til med fiksering av prøver Foto_Haakon Hop

Diver team on Q2 cruise. Photo: Haakon Hop

Steer blog IMG_0876-Christine-lockwood-ireland low res

Work on the ice. The Arctic Basin Joint Cruise 2-2. Photo: Christine Lockwood