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During the last decade the concern regarding environmental effects of the offshore industry has shifted from effects of drilling discharges on benthic communities, towards a stronger focus on the water column and effects on the pelagic ecosystem. At the same time, oil and gas development is expanding in the Norwegian and Russian sectors of the Barents Sea. In this regard, a project has been initiated to look at responses of especially Calanus spp. and other copepod species to long-term, sublethal exposure to selected offshore discharges and discharge components, as well as accidental oil spills. Calanus spp. is ecologically the most important zooplankton species along the Norwegian shelf and in the Barents Sea. A laboratory based facility for culture through several generations is being developed through this project. In addition, the impact of oil compounds on the cold-water and arctic Calanus species-complex will be examined by carrying out a series of laboratory (some at Ny Ålesund) and ship based experiments. The response parameters will include both behavioral (feeding, mate finding, avoidance) and physiological (mortality, egg production, development rates, oxygen consumption and assimilation efficiency) parameters. The ultimate outcome of this research is expected to be a supporting instrument for ecological risk assessment of offshore discharges, which is highly relevant both to the North Sea, the mid-Norway shelf and the Barents Sea.
This project will examine benthic processes in arctic and mid-latitude regions in order to derive specific conclusions on the sensitivity of benthic organisms and communities to acute spills of petroleum-related chemicals and routine releases of drill cuttings. We will carry out a series of controlled experiments on whole sediment communities and individual benthic organisms with additions of drill cuttings and petroleum-associated contaminants, arriving at a set of hypotheses on the likely impacts on the benthos of petroleum production activities at higher latitudes. A series of testable hypotheses will be formulated based on an examination of real-world monitoring data sets collected under Norway’s Petroleum Regional Monitoring Programme and results of mesocosm experiments performed previously at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) Station at Solbergstrand. These data sets will be examined in order to identify the geographic scope of responses to petroleum industrial activities. Through this work, we intend to propose procedures to improve the interpretation of benthic monitoring data for diverse environmental regions in Norway. The project is linked to several on-going NFR projects within the Polarklima programme. By involving a Ph.D. student the project will advance the education and training of young scientists in the field of biological effects studies related to petroleum development and exploration activities.
Surface samples collected around Svalbard in 1997 have been analysed for total content of heavy metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and a selection of pesticides. Sample localities have been selected to include areas not covered by previous investigations. Based on the data set and results from previous expeditions in the area, contamination levels as well as potential sources for the pollutants are discussed. The PAH levels for most stations are moderately elevated with a high contribution of aromatic hydrocarbons associated with petrogenic sources. Hence the dominant sources for the PAHs is most likely derived from petroleum seepage and or coal mining. Long-range transport of aromatics associated with anthropogenic input is a minor component of the observed PAH levels. The highest concentration of PAH is found in Storfjorden with a value higher than the elevated concentrations earlier reported from the south-eastern Storfjorden and over the Central Bank. The concentration levels of the metals arsenic, lead, chromium and nickel were moderately elevated. Because of sparse information on the natural geomorphology, background metal concentrations are not known for this area. Hence, no quantitative comparison of natural and anthropogenic inputs for metals can be made. However, the most dominant source is assumed to be natural and related to the geological conditions in the area. All PCB levels were low, suggesting a dominant influence of long-range transport of these compounds to the area. Pesticide data showed low contamination of all compounds and suggests a predominant long-range atmospheric source for these pollutants.
Validate the hepatic P450 enzyme system as a biomarker of levels and effects of POPs in Arctic, aquatic environments, using the anadromous (sea-migratory) Arctic charr as an indicator species.