Start of synthesis work – data workshop on the seafloor habitat

The Nansen Legacy is in its fifth year and looks back at over 350 days out at sea. The extensive field campaigns over the last years have generated unique abiotic and biotic data from the northern Barents Sea, which still will take years to synthesize. Nansen Legacy scientists working with and on the seafloor habitat were now the first to meet and look at possible integration of different data sets.


The bottom of the ocean is all but a barren flat plain, but a complex landscape of mountains, plateaus, canyons and valleys, and home to many organisms from microbes to demersal fish. The seafloor plays also a vital role in the marine cycling of carbon and nutrients.

In the Nansen Legacy, biologists, chemists, and paleogeologists are working on seafloor-related research questions. All of them have generated unique data from the seafloor of the northern Barents Sea over the last years. Now twenty of them met under the lead of Bodil Bluhm (UiT) and Amanda Ziegler (UiT/IMR) in Tromsø and on zoom for a two-day long workshop in order to gain an overview over all data sets in the pipeline and available, connections among them and possible synthesis.

The workshop revealed that taken together, Nansen Legacy scientists have collected a comprehensive picture of the physical and chemical structure as well as the living communities at seafloor stations sampled in the Barents Sea. This will allow for complex analysis and help improve our understanding of the seafloor habitat in the northern Barents Sea.

The analyses of the data so far suggest, for example, a staggering geological complexity of the continental slope north of Svalbard, the lack of clear seasonality in various seafloor community components and sediment properties, as well as a myriad of functionally diverse microbes, indicating differences in seafloor chemistry and processes.

Nansen Legacy early career scientists Joel Vikberg Wernström (UiT) and Eric Jorda-Molina (NORD) discuss their findings from the Barents Sea seafloor during the synthesis workshop. Photo: Bodil Bluhm