Svalbard: projects/activities

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Directory entires that have specified Svalbard as one of the geographic regions for the project/activity and are included in the AMAP, ENVINET, SAON and SEARCH directories. Note that the list of regions is not hierarchical, and there is no relation between regions (e.g. a record tagged with Nunavut may not be tagged with Canada). To see the full list of regions, see the regions list. To browse the catalog based on the originating country (leady party), see the list of countries.

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Displaying: 1 - 7 of 7
1. Contaminants in Polar Regions – Dynamic Range of Contaminants in Polar Marine Ecosystems (COPOL)

The IPY-project ‘COPOL’ has a main objective of understanding the dynamic range of man-made contaminants in marine ecosystems of polar regions, in order to better predict how possible future climate change will be reflected in levels and effects at higher trophic levels. This aim will be addressed by 4 integrated work packages covering the scopes of 1) food web contaminant exposure and flux, 2) transfer to higher trophic levels and potential effects, 3) chemical analyses and screening, 4) synthesis and integration. To study the relations between climate and environmental contaminants within a project period of four years, a “location-substitutes-time”-approach will be employed. The sampling is focussed towards specific areas in the Arctic, representing different climatic conditions. Two areas that are influenced differently by different water masses are chosen; the Kongsfjord on the West-coast of Spitzbergen (79N, 12 E) and the Rijpfjord North-East of Svalbard (80N, 22 E). The main effort is concentrated in the Kongsfjord. This fjord has been identified as particularly suitable as a study site of contaminants processes, due to the remoteness of sources, and for influences of climatic changes, due to the documented relation between Atlantic water influx and the climatic index North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The water masses of the Rijpfjord have Arctic origin and serves as a strictly Arctic reference. Variable Atlantic water influx will not only influence abiotic contaminant exposure, but also food web structure, food quality and energy pathways, as different water masses carry different phyto- and zooplankton assemblages. This may affect the flux of contaminants through the food web to high trophic level predators such as seabirds and seals, due to altered food quality and energy pathways.

Biological effects Organochlorines Heavy metals Fish Climate variability Long-range transport Climate Contaminant transport Climate change Exposure Arctic Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) Local pollution Seabirds Food webs Ecosystems
2. Marine food webs as vector of human patogens

Marine foodwebs as vector and possibly source of viruses and bacteria patogenic to humans shall be investigated in a compartive north-south study. Effects of sewage from ships traffic and urban settlements, on animals of arctic foodwebs will be studied.

Pathways Biological effects Hydrography Fish Discharges Pollution sources Environmental management Contaminant transport Terrestrial mammals Shipping Polar bear Exposure Arctic Local pollution Seabirds Shellfish Food webs Waste Human health Human intake Marine mammals
3. The Effect of solar UV on lipids in the planktonic food chain of polar freshwater ponds

Plankton of shallow polar freshwater water bodies is exposed to increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) due to the limited water depth. Daphnia (Crustacea, waterflea) and algae are common representatives of the food chain in these water bodies. Daphnia almost exclusively use lipids for energy storage, which they obtain from their food (mainly algae). Therefore, Daphnia and algae are closely linked to each other. Preliminary experiments on the UV-induced damage in phyto- and zooplankton point to lipids as one of the key players. With this application we want to identify how algae specific lipids and fatty acids (FA) are modified by UVR. The factors modifying UV-doses to the animals and their food are depth of the waterbody and DOC (absorbs UV). A pondsurvey shall provide a wide spectrum on ponds which vary in DOC and depth. Lipid analysis of Daphnia and their food of these ponds as well as physical parameters of the pond waters shall identify correlations between UV-exposure and specific fatty acids. This shall enable us to estimate the effect of solar UVR on the freshwater plankton community in polar ponds.

Biological effects UV radiation freshwater plankton Climate change Exposure Arctic Food webs Diet Ecosystems lipids
4. Barents Sea Marine Ecosystem

This study aims at reconstructing the Barents Sea marine ecosystem before the exploitation by man. This reconstruction will be made by using the existing archival resources on catch statistics from the 17th to 19th centuries in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom, in combination with the present knowledge an animal behaviour and food web structure. Fieldwork is planned in two former hunting areas in Spitsbergen: the Smeerenburgfjord and the Storfjord to study both the structure of the recent marine ecosystem and the composition, size and dating of the recent bird rookeries. This information in combination with the historical data will be used to reconstruct the original ecosystem.

whaling Biology Populations Biodiversity Seabirds Food webs Ecosystems Marine mammals
5. UV-radiation and its impact on genetic diversity, population structure and foodwebs of arctic freshwater

The aim of this international project is to measure and model arctic UV-radiation and assess the effects on freshwater planktonic organisms and foodwebs. The fieldwork and experiments are conducted at Ny-Alesund, Spitsbergen. The specific aim of our participation is to study the food web effects of UV-B stress by means of in-situ enclosure studies. In the laboratory we found that UV-B stressed algal cells may increase in volume and form a thicker cell wall. These changes in the algal cells may reduce their digestibility by zooplankton. Further the role of photopigments (like melanin and carotenoids), present in some zooplankters, will be studied in relation to the survival of these animals at high UV-B exposure. Research activities Grazing experiments with Daphnia pulex (melanic and hyaline) are performed in in-situ enclosures (under different UV exposures) in the Brandal Lagune during July. The green alga Chlamydomonas will be incubated in-situ under different UV exposures to assess the potential use of this alga as a biodosimeter for UV-B. Further the survival of melanic and hyaline daphnids will be tested in-situ.

Biological effects UV radiation survival photopigments Exposure Food webs Reproduction phytoplankton zooplankton
6. The ecological interaction between the Spitsbergen whaling and walrus hunting activities and the marine ecosystem in the 17th and 18th centuries

In the seventeent and eighteenth centuries intensive European whaling and walrus hunting took place in the waters around Spitsbergen, with many stations on the coast of the islands. The hunt was carried out in areas along the edge of pack ice and is therefore very sensitive to changes in the ice situation and climate. When, around 1650, climate and ice distribution changed, whales moved to the north. The whaling stations in the south of Spitsbergen were abandoned when stations in the north were still functioning. When, later, the ice situation deteriorated in the north as well, the stations were abandoned there too. Shore whaling changed into pelagic whaling. Because of these whaling and walrus hunting activities two very numerous large mammals were largely depleted and almost disappeared from the Spitsbergen waters. The pelagically feeding Greenland Right Whale and the bentically feeding walrus, whose initial stocks are estimated at 46,000 Greenland Right Whales and 25,000 walrus, were eliminated. This elimination has caused a major shift in the foodweb. The plankton feeding seabirds and polar cod strongly increased because of the elimination of the Greenland Right Whale, and the eider ducks and bearded seals increased because of the decrease of the number of walruses. This development has led to the enormous amount of seabird rookeries on the West coast of Spitsbergen.

whaling Biology whales Populations hunting Biodiversity Seabirds Food webs Ecosystems walrus Marine mammals
7. Persistent organic pollutants in marine organisms in the marginal ice zone near Svalbard: Bioconcentration and biomagnification

Due to the high organochlorine concentrations reported in Arctic top predators, and the potential transport of contaminants with the drifting sea-ice in the Arctic, organisms constituting lower trophic levels living in association with sea-ice have been proposed as susceptible of uptake of high loads of organic pollutants. The present project studies the organochlorine occurrence in organisms living in the marginal ice zone north of Svalbard and in the Fram Strait. This includes both ice fauna (ice-amphipods), zooplankton, polar cod and different seabird species foraging in the marginal ice zone. Our objectives are to investigate: *The bioaccumulation of organochlorines in ice-associated amphipods in relation to diet preference, spatial variation due to sea ice drift route, size, sampling year, uptake and distribution within the body. *Comparison of organochlorine contamination in pelagic and ice-associated organisms at the similar trophic position, to investigate the effect of sea ice as a transporter and concentrator of pollutants. *Spatial variation in zooplankton species, related to differences in water masses and exposure to first year or multi year sea ice. *The contamination load in different seabirds feeding in the marginal ice zone, in relation to diet choice and estimated trophic position, taxonomically closeness and the induction of hepatic CYP P450 enzymes.

habitats Biology sea ice drift route Organochlorines PCBs Fish Long-range transport Spatial trends Sea ice Contaminant transport Ice trophic positions Arctic Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) Seabirds Food webs metabolism Pesticides ice-associated organisms Diet zooplankton