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waves Barents Sea

Barents Sea cooling machine slowing down?

Refrigerators are cooled by heat pumps, which transfer heat from the refrigerator’s inside to the outside environment. That way, the refrigerator’s inside is cooled to a temperature below room temperature. A similar mechanism makes the Barents Sea one of the worlds’ largest refrigerators. But how stable is the Barents Sea cooling machine? Can it break down as the fridges in our kitchens, and does it matter?

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Group gliders

Journey across the Polar Front

During the first two days in the Barents Sea, we completed our first crossing of the Polar Front, all the way from the warm, saline Atlantic waters in the south, to the cold and fresher Arctic waters in the north to map the location of the Polar Front.

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17 mai in the Arctic

In the footsteps of Nansen

A tribe of 36 scientists set sail to the Arctic Ocean on board research icebreaker Kronprins Haakon to study the northern Barents Sea in spring as part of the Nansen Legacy project. Despite all the technological advances since Nansen’s time you still need a good mix of skills and characters to make the mission a success. Our tribe certainly had that mix and it was a privilege to lead the tribe on its Arctic mission together as chief and co-chief.

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Labelling sampling bottles prior to sampling is an important and time consuming task

Departure into the known unknown …

We left port in Tromsø on May 14 th. Finally, after 10 days in isolation and meeting other cruise participants only as small faces on a video screen, we were released onto Helmer Hanssen, our home for the next nine days.

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RV Helmer Hanssen Tromsø UiT

First experience onboard the RV “Helmer Hanssen”

For the first time in my life I am going to experience Phytoplankton blooming in Arctic. The vessel is soon ready to take us on board, and we are currently sitting in isolation at beautiful Sommarøy. My thoughts now are on the journey. How will it be?

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The author, Mikko Vihtakari, collecting a sample of under ice algae using a slurp gun (photo: Peter Leopold).

The Deep Blue Arctic Ocean

The buzz and hassle have paused for a moment. I am under an ice ridge in the Arctic Ocean. There is 15 meters of sea ice over me and some 3000 meters of water below. The world around me is deep blue except for some white patches of ice and the blackness of the abyss under me. Silence. Desolation. Love.

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group picture ARCTOS/NL Polar front expedition 2021

Where the Atlantic heat meets the Arctic cold

The ocean is not as endless as we often think it is. It is actually divided into different domains and regions, ranging from the freezing cold polar waters to the hot tropical regions. Within each of the domains, species have evolved to deal with the challenging conditions within their home domain. But what if two domains meet and mix?

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Some of the benthos team labelling and preparing samples before they get muddy. (Photo by Eric Jorda Molina)

Let’s talk dirty

Water, water everywhere on this blue planet. But there is also a dirtier side to the sea, because under the waves is solid (though often muddy) ground. Even dirt from land eventually reaches and lays to rest on the seafloor. The ground beneath the sea is in fact, critical for maintaining a healthy planet.

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Testing av nytt autonomt fartøy i Barentshavet Foto: Adam Steer, NPI

Mixing production deep into the ocean

Imagine yourself lying on your back in a forest on a sunny spring day watching upwards to the tree tops. Warm rays of sunlight falling through the canopy warm your face and the song of birds echo in the distance. Now imagine all the tree trunks, branches and twigs are gone and just leaves floating lofty above you.

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36 forskere på vei om bord FF Kronprins Haakon

The spring, a biologically critical time window in Arctic

In the Nansen Legacy project, we investigate the northern Barents Sea and the adjacent Nansen Basin. These important regions of the Arctic Ocean are particularly exposed to changes in our climate with consequences for the marine and ice-associated ecosystems.
To be able to distinguish seasonal variations from long-term trends but also to identify the development over a year –seasonal cruises constitute a key component in the Nansen Legacy project. Three seasonal cruises were already conducted in summer and autumn/early winter 2019 and late winter 2021.

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Our little planet of ice – working on Nansen Legacy process station P6 at 81.5 degrees north (Photo: Adam Steer, Norwegian Polar Institute).

Everything has to have somewhere to live

Here on RV “Kronprins Haakon” in the northern Barents Sea we are our own tiny world, living and working together in a bubble almost completely remote from our regular world. In our microcosm, we are reminded that we all have to have some place to live, and to also understand how it works, so that the system we live in functions well.

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Polar bear checks out equipment on the ice. Photo Andreas Wolden

Tiny Arctic wildlife matters

Hello from another fine day from the largest research vessel in Norway – Kronprins Haakon. After having a delicious pizza lunch on board today, I came up to the 7th deck (yes that’s right, this boat has 10 decks), to write this blog in the conference room – a nice, cozy room with a great view. How is a girl from the south of India where winter is 20 degrees, surviving up here in the Arctic, you ask?

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Water sampling 2021

The hunt for the hidden life in water

Life on board a research vessel has its own and unique rhythm. Time operates a little differently here, both because days are a bit intense with sample collection and analysis, but also because the ship simply has its own time zone. When doing research in the Arctic at this time of year, it is important to follow the sun as best you can. One consequence of this is that the higher powers on board RV Kronprins Haakon have decided that we will be two hours ahead of normal time on the Norwegian mainland. Sun is a precious resource in the Arctic in March, so in order to make the most of each day, we simply define the time ourselves.

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First ice station. Photo Nadjejda Espinel, NPI

Excitement onboard the RV Kronprins Haakon

It’s been a week since we left Tromsø. The Kronprins Haakon has very quickly become our home, and we are enjoying life onboard. After a couple of days through rough seas, things are calmer now. Fast steaming through open water has now changed into slow steaming through ice that needs to be broken for us to pass. Rough seas caused some of us to get seasick, but that is now long gone. Silent rocky seas have now changed into stable noisy ice. Breaking through 40-70 cm thick ice is not noiseless and earplugs are now a must in the lower parts of the ship if you want to take a rest at any moment – day or night – whenever you are not working.

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Glade forskarar fekk attende Harald

An unexpected journey to the seabed.

When Gandalf the Grey was struck by the Barlog and fell into the depths of the mountain at the bridge of Khazad dum, the Fellowship despaired. They had lost and old friend and their guide. When the underwater robot Harald did not return to the surface after a routine mission, the scientists on board the R/V Kronprins Haakon despaired.

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Pancake ice Barents Sea

The perfect front

After almost a week on the Nansen Legacy winter process cruise, we now sail into the sea ice and stay there until we go south to Tromsø towards the end of February. A couple of days ago we saw the sun just above the horizon, and for us living in Longyearbyen it was a great moment of joy, having been four months without the sun!

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ice pancakes in Barents Sea

Pancakes in the waves – a field report from the wintry Barents sea

We left Longyearbyen on Tuesday evening 12th of February and have sailed south and east in search of ice. After four days, R/V Kronprins Haakon has reached 35 degrees east. Pancake ice is the first stage in ice forming and a clear sign that there have been waves in swing. We will measure these waves with a small instrument that stands on a stake in front of the bow. We have tried already, but after two days in open sea, it was covered with so much ice from sea spray that we almost did not get the instrument back on deck.

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Bente Edvardsen sampling in Barents Sea.

Ships full of men are history – at least in arctic marine research

When the first Fram-expedition returned to Norway in 1896, after three years frozen into the ice of the Arctic Ocean, a crew of 13 men was enthusiastically welcomed home and celebrated as heroes, above all the young Fridtjof Nansen. Hundred and twenty-five years after Fram, research vessels are exploring the Arctic Ocean on more regular basis, and onboard are men no longer among themselves. Women have become important contributors to the scientific exploration of the Arctic Ocean.

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Scientist looking at species from Barents Sea

The tiny rulers of Arctic Seas

What do you think of when you think of the Arctic ocean? Belugas weaving through ice floes? Or maybe walruses sunbathing on a chilly beach? How about a polar bear hunting for its next seal snack?

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Runoff of meltwater from land-based glaciers to the Barents Sea

Interview with Louise Steffensen Schmidt (The Nansen Legacy), Postdoc at the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo. Recently, she presented her research work in the lecture: Variability in glacier meltwater runoff to the Barents Sea, at the 3rd Nansen Legacy annual meeting, 10-12 November 2020.

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What controls cyclone variability in the Barents Sea?

The jet stream is a highway for cyclones, while the sea ice edge has been thought to be a fuel station. Erica Madonnas new study shows that the fuel for cyclones is not simply linked to the location of the ice edge. She explains Barents Sea cyclones as a traffic system.

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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.

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When Murphy Wins

Scientists in movies and on television are often presented as brilliant people, knowing exactly what they do and what they want to achieve, furthermore, their experiments always succeed. That is, if they fail, they fail spectacularly, becoming mutants, blowing up the world or some such. This post is about real scientists and failing unspectacularly.

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Risky business

When ocean waters with different properties, such as temperature, salinity and density, meet, they form a “front”. Ocean fronts are often rich in productivity and marine life, with high zooplankton and fish larvae concentrations. This makes fronts attractive for fishing vessels for obvious reasons

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who eats whom

What do the smallest animals in the Arctic eat?

Understanding who eats who is important to describe how nutrition and energy move between species in marine ecosystems. The field of research is flourishing like never before thanks to new technology and more advanced methods. These allow us to uncover hitherto unknown connections that occasionally shake up known paradigms in ecology.

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Net, harvest, fishing, gear

Balanced Harvesting

A first modelling study on the implementation of the “Balanced Harvesting” approach to fisheries management in the Barents Sea.

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Mechanisms Underlying Recent Arctic Atlantification

Recent “Atlantification” of the Arctic is characterized by warmer ocean temperatures and a reduced sea ice cover. The Barents Sea is a “hot spot” for these changes, something which has broad socioeconomic and environmental impacts in the region. However, there is, at present, no complete understanding of what is causing the ocean warming.

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Warm Atlantic Water Explains Observed Sea Ice Melt Rates North of Svalbard

Warm Atlantic water (AW) that flows northward along the Svalbard west coast is thought to
transport enough heat to melt regional Arctic sea ice effectively. Despite this common assumption, quantitative requirements necessary for AW to directly melt sea ice fast enough under realistic winter conditions are still poorly constrained.

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The elusive sea ice edge

Last winter an almost forgotten sight presented itself to all those venturing the Barents Sea: sea ice as far south as Bjørnøya, equaling a sea-ice extent not seen since the eighties and nineties. Are you wondering how this is possible in times of global warming and a diminishing Arctic ice cap?

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Polar cod have become larger in the Barents Sea over the last 30 years

Polar cod is a key fish species, transferring energy from zooplankton to larger animals. Polar cod depend on sea ice for spawning and during the early parts of its life. Reduced ice cover may therefore influence the survival and growth of young polar cod directly through e.g. loss of predation refuge, and indirectly by e.g. affecting the abundance and availability of prey.

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Nansen Legacy annual report for 2019

We are proud to share a glimpse of our many project activities from 2019. The report highlights of the new scientific knowledge that has started to emerge. It presents some of our research activities, our scientists and recruits.

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Iskanten av Christian Morel

The Ever Moving Sea Ice

The Arctic sea ice is on the move all year. It expands to its maximum during March and reaches its minimum in September. The variation during the year, and from year to year, depends on wind, weather and ocean currents. But the Arctic is changing.

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research and fish

Sustainable Fisheries Management

SIDE EVENTS ARCTIC FRONTIERS  Organised by Marit Reigstad and Alf Hakon Hoel, UiT – the Arctic University of Norway. What does it take to manage fisheries sustainably? Drawing on experiences

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Do organisms find food when the sea ice retreats?

In times of climate change and retreating sea ice, important research questions are for example: How important are sea ice algae as a food source for organisms such as copepods, krill and fish? Are they affected by the sea ice retreat and if so, how will that affect the functioning of the Arctic ecosystem?

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Rig-work in the dark

As the polar night lowers over the Arctic, RV Kronprins Haakon is leaving the quay in Longyearbyen, heading towards the Arctic Ocean. For the next two weeks, the researchers and technicians on board will retrieve old and deploy new scientific measuring equipment in the sea area around Svalbard.

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Nansen Legacy to sample Russian waters

Vladimir Savinov, a researcher at Akvaplan-niva (APN), is among the scientific crew on the R/V Dalnie Zelentsy, a 55 m Russian ship conducting monitoring surveys in the eastern Barents Sea.

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