dinsdag 8 oktober 2013

Northern Barents Sea Expedition

Ariadna Szczybelski is currently on an expedition to the Northern part of the Barents Sea with the Norwegian RV Lance research vessel. The expedition takes place from 3 October - 10 October 2013, in cooperation with Statoil, Akvaplan-Niva and the Norwegian Polar Institute. The aim is to collect sediment samples and benthic species for her PhD project 'ARCIND'

ARCIND with RV Lance - Sunday 6 October 2013  

Getting equipmment on board of the Lance©Ariadna Szczybelski
On Day 1 our initial plan was to sample at a few locations in the Southern Barents Sea and at the Spitsbergen bank, but due to bad weather conditions we were forced to continue sailing along the Northern Norwegian coast (from Tromsø up to Hammerfest) during the first two days waiting for the captain’s signal to head north for our first destination.

On Day 3 researcher Anja Johansen (STATOIL) and I discussed new possibly interesting sampling stations (from an ecological point of view). The captain informed us of the existence of an important fishing area between Kong Karls Land and Edgeøya island. This area’s primary productivity has been studied before (Cochrane et al. 2009) showing higher faunal abundances and higher taxonomic richness compared to the Northern and Southern Barents Sea. As a result of this meeting, we decided to move our sampling points for sediment and biota to near Kong Karls Land (200 m depth), and near Hopen Island (100 m depth)(near two mooring positions). Between these two we will include two stations on the South East of Edgeøya island (130 and 230 m depth, respectively). A CTD will be deployed at both mooring positions in order to get Conductivity, Temperature and Salinity values at 100 and 200 m depth. It was estimated that, because the four stations are located on the Arctic shelf, the influence from Arctic water will be stronger than in the Western and Southern Barents Sea.

Working on board the Lance©Ariadna Szczybelski
At each of these stations we will be collecting sediment samples for use in exposure experiments with bivalves and polychaetes species, and small sediment samples to run a pre-screening on the presence of PAHs, PCBs and other POPs. Species that we will collect as first priority in these same stations are: Astarte borealis, Macoma calcarea, Nephtys ciliata and Pectinaria hyperborea. These same species were also the target species during our last fieldwork at Kongsfjorden (Spitsbergen). However, due to their possible low abundance at offshore regions, these species may not be easily collected. In that case we will collect related species taking into account their selective feeding mode, wide distribution in the Barents Sea and a relatively large adult size, such as Astarte crenata, Mendicula ferruginosa, Maldane sarsi and Spiochaetopterus typicus. These selection criteria are some of the features that will be taken into account in order to categorize species as a bioindicator.

Day 4 - 9 a.m.: We are currently on our way to reach our first mooring position from a total of four positions. In each of these positions STATOIL is ready to deploy some sound recorders. These recorders will remain at different depths and will be used to study the ice sheet conditions throughout one year.

Day 4 – 6.30 p.m. The first grab will be dropped at the same moment that the sun light is almost gone. Another challenging fact besides fighting against this cold, wavy and windy environment. If only the Northern lights could make their appearance and remind us how lucky one can be being in this magic place, as did the view on the glaciers from the Teisten boat during our summertime on the Kongsfjorden in Svalbard.

Back home!

We are all back home! After six very productive weeks Ben and Ariadna also returned from Svalbard on August 6. Looking back, the summer field season of 2013 can be considered very successful. 

What did we accomplish:
  • Ariadna got her first field experience with working in the Arctic region: sampling on the fjord, getting acquainted with Arctic (benthic) species, running exposure studies in the lab, dissecting shell fish, improvising, collecting samples for bioindicator studies, organising transport to and from Ny-Ålesund, and experiencing the beauty of the Arctic.
  • Ben also got his first experiences working in the Arctic, with working hard and long days (and nights) to assist Ariadna (see above), improvising and being flexible (to finally retrieve the research equipment he needed for his own tests), obtaining first results of ballast water testing in the Arctic, and enjoying the Arctic community and nature to the max.
  • Martine was happy to experience her second summer at Ny-Ålesund, coordinating this year’s field season, collecting new sediment samples for targeted contaminant analysis (this time also focusing on run off of cont
    aminants from the old mine), arranging pictures of special sites of the Kongsfjorden together with Geir Gabrielsen and Maarten Loonen (a small project that will be presented at a later stage), and taking every opportunity to enjoy the Arctic community and nature.
  • Bas and Ruben were in awe during their first visit to Ny-Ålesund, continuously following Ben, Ariadna, Martine and other inhabitants of the Dutch Arctic Station with their camera and sound equipment to collect extensive film footage of doing research at Ny-Ålesund. All footage is now in process for the documentary on the importance of research for sustainable developments in the Arctic. The documentary will be used as part of a lecture of the Minor Oil & Gas in The Netherlands and will become available online.  
It’s great to be back having all these wonderful experiences in our backpack...

Photo by Ruben Kocx ©