Using task forces to integrate results and highlight important themes

After a period with focus on data collection, sample analyses, and model-based investigations and predictions, it is time to merge and integrate new knowledge across approaches and key themes. To do so, seven overarching themes have been identified and task force groups have been initiated in the project Nansen Legacy.

The overarching themes are Atlantic Water Inflow, Sea ice, Human Impact and stressors, Seasonality, Food webs, The Barents Sea 2050, and The Barents Sea: regional implications and global context.

All scientists involved in the Nansen Legacy – irrespective of their career stage and their scientific background – have been (and still are) invited to join one or more task force teams and contribute the assembly of interdisciplinary products and deliverables under each of the themes.

The role of the task forces is to pull together the findings from the many individual scientific studies within the Nansen Legacy project, to bridge results across disciplines and different scientific approaches. Furthermore, the task forces work towards making the holistic understanding available in a range of formats to a suit of different audiences. These include synthesis articles in scientific journals, fact sheets for policymakers, visual presentations online, a new popular science book about the Barents Sea, and articles for publication in newspapers and magazines.

The status of ambitions from the task forces is given below.

Task force Atlantic Water Inflow

(Leaders: Arild Sundfjord, Nikki Brown)

The aim of this task force is to summarise the new understanding of the factors affecting the flow of relatively warm, salty water originating in the Atlantic Ocean into the northern Barents Sea. This is achieved based on findings from observational and modelling studies of the ocean and sea ice conducted during the Nansen Legacy project. In addition, the task force seeks to provide a holistic understanding of the transport and redistribution of nutrients, carbon, plankton, contaminants, and pollution (including plastic) by currents in the Barents Sea and north of Svalbard.

Task force Sea Ice

(Leader: Sebastian Gerland)

The Sea Ice task force unites Nansen Legacy scientists with a background and/or interest in sea ice physics, sea ice biogeochemistry, nutrient dynamics related to sea ice, ice-ocean interaction, sea ice ecosystem, and sea ice modelling. Together, the scientists aim to improve the holistic understanding on (1) the light conditions in snow, ice and water under the ice, (2) the processes of ice growth and melting, snow cover processes, (3) physical and biological processes in and near ridges, melt ponds, holes, cracks and leads, (4) brine-related processes and the effects on chemistry and biology in and below the sea ice, (5) the fluxes between atmosphere-snow-ice-water, and (6) the relevance of sea ice for society and teleconnections. Observational results are complemented with findings from the sea ice modelling, which allow future sea ice projections and operational services.

Task force Food Webs

(Preliminary leader: Randi Ingvaldsen)

This task force looks into temporal changes of food webs (from decades to years ago to present) and aims to investigate different methods used to study food webs, such as experiments, trophic markers, and models. The involved scientists work on bringing together both field-/ and observational findings with the results from food web model and use the different approaches to gain a more integrated understanding of food webs in the high Arctic, and how food webs are already changing and may continue to change in the future.

Christian Morel/
Task force Seasonality

(Leaders: Bodil Bluhm, Randi Ingvaldsen)

The goal of this task force is to develop a comprehensive understanding for seasonal processes across disciplines and to provide insight into the magnitude of seasonal variation in the northern Barents Sea and the adjacent Arctic Ocean. Results of process studies are currently compiled, including among others 1) spatial gradients in the sea ice, water column and at the seafloor, 2) seasonal differences in processes and biological communities, 3) interannual variability in Arctic ecosystems, and 4) the impact of differing ice regimes on an ecosystem during the same season. Publications on these topics will be gathered in a special issue of the scientific journal Progress in Oceanography to communicate findings to the pan-Arctic scientific community. Further, the special issue addresses interannual comparisons within and across disciplines to evaluate the impact of differing ice regimes on the entire system during the same season.

Task force Human Impacts

(Leader: Khuong V. Dinh)

This task force works on providing an overview of the new findings on key abiotic and biotic drivers and stressors in the Arctic, such as findings related to ocean warming and acidification, altered nutrient input and oxygen content, sea ice loss and surface freshening as well as to various types of pollution and harvesting. One of the goals in this task force is to integrate these findings with the seasonally and inter-annually changes of the drivers and stressors and to give answers to how drivers and stressors interact and affect Arctic species and ecosystems on a different time scale, from short-term (e.g., phenotypic plasticity) to long-term (e.g., natural populations, trophic interactions, and food web structures).

Task force The Barents Sea: regional implications and global context

(Leader: Camille Li)

Over the last century, large changes have been observed in the Barents Sea. There has been a loss of winter sea ice cover, the ocean has warmed, and the surface heat loss and uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere have increased. However, the Barents Sea is not an independent system. It is linked to adjacent regions in the Arctic as well as to the whole global climate system by the circulating ocean and atmosphere. This task force aims to integrate findings on teleconnections between the Barents Sea and other regions. The scientists involved will work towards an overall understanding of the regional implications of climate variability and change in the Barents Sea as well as their role in a global context. Important processes include sea ice import, water column stratification, energy transport, and modes of atmospheric variability.

Task force Barents Sea 2050

(Leader: Marius Årthun)

The aim of this task force is to summarize the projected changes in the (northern) Barents Sea towards the year 2050. This includes changes in the physical environment, the biogeochemistry, ecosystems, and food webs. The main product of this task force will be a synthesis article on the status of the Barents Sea in 2050 as well as popular science products for different audiences. A workshop in November 2022 will be used to develop a more detailed timeline and settle a plan on how the participating Nansen Legacy scientists share the responsibility to develop the planned synthesis products.

Pernille Amdahl, MET