Sverdrup Research Station, Ny-Ålesund: projects/activities

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Displaying: 1 - 20 of 48 Next
1. Arctic and Alpine Stream Ecosystem Research

The project, Arctic and Alpine Stream Ecosystem Research (AASER), started within EU’s Climate & Environment Programme and now continues with national funding, primarily Norway, Italy and Austria. The objective is to study dynamics and processes in rivers systems in Arctic and Alpine regions. Emphasis is given to the relationships between benthic invertebrates and environmental variables, especially in glacier-fed systems and in relation to climate change scenarios. On Svalbard research is concentrated around Ny Ålesund, particularly Bayelva and Londonelva. In 2004 the focus will be on the use to stable isotopes to detect transfer processes within and between ecosystems.

Glaciers Biology Catchment studies Spatial trends Climate change Biodiversity Arctic Food webs Temporal trends 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. Digestibility of Ice Algae and Phytoplankton: The Potential Impacts of Changing Food Supply to the Arctic Benthos

Sea ice is a dominant feature of marine ecosystems in the Arctic. Its presence directly or indirectly impacts Arctic marine ecosystems, especially on the shelves where benthic and pelagic systems are extensively coupled. If the extent and thickness of sea ice continue to decline, we predict a shift in the type of algal material reaching the benthos (from ice algae to phytoplankton), which will potentially impact the food requirements of the benthos. We have several pieces of evidence showing that both types of ice algae (below-ice ice algae dominated by Melosira arctica and within-ice ice algae dominated by Nitzchia frigida) presently reach the benthos in significant quantities. What we don’t know, and what we propose to address is: “What is the digestibility of ice algae and phytoplankton-derived organic matter by the Arctic macrobenthos?” From the perspective of a macrofaunal organism, digestibility includes three separate components: 1) selection (is encountered organic material ingested or rejected?); 2) absorption (is ingested organic material absorbed during passage through the gut, or does it get egested in the feces?); and 3) assimilation (is absorbed organic material assimilated into biomass?). We propose a series of hypotheses to guide our assessment of digestibility: H1: There is no difference in the quality of ice algae and phytoplankton as food for benthic organisms. H1i: There is no difference in the long-term assimilation of ice algae and phytoplankton by benthic organisms of different trophic groups (suspension feeders, deposit feeders, omnivores). H1ii: There is no difference in the short-term absorption efficiency among different trophic groups feeding on phytoplankton and ice algae. H2: The response of benthic organisms to ice algae and phytoplankton as food sources is the same when assessed on a Pan-Arctic scale. Assessment of long-term assimilation of the various types of algae (within-ice ice algae; below-ice ice algae; and phytoplankton) will be conducted by determining lipid biomarkers and their isotopic ratios, and by determining CHN and protein signatures of organisms collected during all aspects of the work (summer ’02; spring ’03; fall ’03; and summer ’04 in both Norway and Kotzebue, Alaska). Assessment of short-term absorption will first use the ash-ratio method in a whole core delivery experiment. Following the whole-core experiments, dominant taxa from each trophic group will be identified and used in a comparison of 1) absorption efficiencies as calculated by the ash-ratio method, and 2) carbon retention efficiencies as calculated using a pulse-chase radiotracer approach. Finally, we will repeat the dominant taxa absorption efficiency experiments in both Svalbard, Norway at the Ny Ålesund lab and in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska.

Biology Sea ice Geochemistry Food webs Sediments
4. Long-term effects of offshore discharges on cold water zooplankton: establishing a test system for chronic exposure to offshore discharges

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.

Pathways Biological effects Biology PAHs Pollution sources Environmental management Contaminant transport Petroleum hydrocarbons Exposure Arctic Oil and Gas
5. Physiological studies of arctic birds

The activity in 2004 will be devoted to two projects: First, we will perform banding of breeding adult Kittiwakes in the Kongsfjord area. The Kittiwakes will in addition to standard metal rings be equipped with a colour-ring with a combination of letters and numbers, making identification at a distance easier. This banding programme was initiated in 2003 and will in the coming years be used to calculate local survival rates of the Kittiwakes breeding the Kongsfjord area. Secondly, we intend to place a number of breeding boxes for Snow Buntings in the Ny-Ålesund area. In the coming years this will make access to breeding adults and nestlings easier enabling physiological studies. These studies will focus on various aspects of metabolism and energetics of the breeding population of Snow Bunting on Svalbard, and we also want to compare the physiology of the Svalbard population with the breeding populations on ’mainland’ Norway.

Biology Populations Seabirds Reproduction
6. ACD coastel erosion

The erosion rates at some selected coastal cliffs near Ny-Ålesund will be measured by the use of terrestrial photographs and photogrammertry. testing the method itself is a part of the study. Thsi part is a part of my doctoral work and is in the international Arctic Coastal Dynamics project. The fisrt part of the fieldwork was carried out in 2002.

7. Contaminants in polar fox

Arctic animals utilize periods with high food availability for feeding and lipid deposition, whereas they rely on stored lipids during unfavorable periods. Hence, many arctic inhabitants exhibit profound seasonal cycles of fattening and emaciation. In the Arctic, feeding is associated with fat deposition and contaminant accumulation. When lipids are mobilized, accumulated contaminants are released into the circulation. Consequently, blood contaminant concentrations may increase markedly and result in a redistribution of the contaminant(s) from “insensitive”, adipose tissues to sensitive organs, and increased contaminant bioavailability. Such variations complicate interpretations of pollutant toxicity, both in effect studies and in monitoring programs, and remains an important future reseach area. In the present study, we will use arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) as a model species for investigating tissue distribution and bioavailability of organochlorine contaminants (OCs) in relation to natural variations in lipid status (field study). These data will be supplemented and validated through a contamination study with blue fox (A. lagopus), where the seasonal changes in lipid status of wild fox are simulated in the laboratory. In both the field and laboratory study, possible effects of OCs on steroid hormone synthesis, and plasma levels of hormones, vitamin E and retinol will also be assessed.

Biological effects Biology Organochlorines PCBs Arctic Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) Pesticides
8. Effects of UV radiation on lipids, fatty acids and nutritional quality of Arctic marine algae and zooplankton

This project investigates how solar UV radiation affects planktonic food webs in the Arctic by changing the nutritional quality of the lower trophic levels. UV radiation has been documented to lead to oxidation of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in phytoplankton. These PUFAs cannot be synthesized de novo by zooplankton, but are key molecules for the marine pelagic food web. A combined approach was chosen with both sampling of field data (physical as well as biological) and experiments which were carried out during two field seasons in Ny Ålesund in 2003 (april/may) and 2004 (may/june). In 2004, the main part of the field work consisted of an outdoor experiment where phytoplankton was exposed to different irradiation regimes, using the natural sunlight. Algae from all different treatments were used for feeding zooplankton in order to trace the transfer of irradiation-induced changes of the fatty acid composition in phytoplankton to the next trophic level. A number of additional parameters will be analysed as well, combined with the results of an extensive measurement series of both PAR- and UV light. The experiment was carried out on the old pier (Gamle Kaia), while the laboratory part took place in the Italian station ‘Dirigibile Italia’.

Calanus glacialis Biological effects UV radiation fatty acid composition trophic transfer diatoms lipids
9. Environmental effects of offshore oil activities: experimental tests of petroleum-associated components on benthos at community, individual, and cellular levels

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.

Biological effects PAHs Petroleum hydrocarbons Arctic Sediments Oil and Gas
10. Englacial draining on Kongsvegen

Englacial draining on Kongsvegen

Glaciers Climate change
11. On thin Ice

On thin Ice

Biology Biodiversity
12. Seal studies in Kongsfjorden 2003

Seals studies

Biology Marine mammals
13. Effects of UV radiation on lipids, fatty acids and nutritonal quality of Arctic marine alga and zooplankton

Effects of UV radiations on lipids, fatty acids and nutritional quality of Arctic marine algae and zooplankton

Biological effects UV radiation
14. Protoniks

Observation of proton aurora on the dayside with use of spectrometer operated simultaneous in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund. Absolute calibration of the instrument located at The Sverdrupstation were performed in the period 9-13 January 2003.

Atmospheric processes Geophysics Atmosphere
15. Effects of UV-B radiation on Microbial communities in Kongsfjorden

Effects of UV-B radiation on microbial communities in Kongsfjorden in relation to metal and dissolved organic matter availabillity.

Biological effects Ozone Biology UV radiation Heavy metals Environmental management Exposure Arctic Model ecosystem Ecosystems
16. Arctic islands of genetic diversity or fragments of an ancient clone

Arctic islands of genetic diversity or fragments of an ancient clone. The history and future of Dryas octopetala in a changing environment.

Biological effects Climate change
17. Optical properties, structure, and thickness of sea ice in Kongsfjorden

Study of the energy exchange between atmosphere, sea ice and ocean during freezing and melting conditions; within that, measurements of solar radiation (visible and UV) and optical properties, snow and sea ice characteristics, vertical heat and salt fluxes, oceanographic parameters.

UV radiation Geophysics Climate variability Climate remote sensing Sea ice Climate change Modelling Ice Oceanography Arctic Ice cores Atmosphere Ocean currents optical properties
18. Physiological response of growth, photosynthesis and nutrient uptake of marine macrophytes in a UV- and CO2 - enriched environment

As a result of the increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and other greenhose gases due to anthropogenic activities, global and water temperature is rising. The objectives of our project might be summarized as follows: I. To measure the activity of the enzymatic systems involved in carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus uptake (carbonic anhydrase, nitrate reductase and alkaline phosphatase) in selected macroalgae. To assess the optimal concentration of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus for growth and photosynthesis. To study the total concentration of carbon and nitrogen metabolites in the macroalgae (proteins, total carbohydrates, and lipids) in order to define the possible existence of nutrient limitation. II. To simulate the conditions of climate change, represented as CO2 enrichment and increasing UV radiation, on the activity of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus uptake mechanisms. III. To screen the activity of the enzymatic systems previously detailed in macroalgae from the Konjsfjord, in order to know their nutritional state.

Biological effects nutrient uptake UV radiation Climate change Macroalgae eutrophycation Ecosystems
19. Enhanced deposition of atmospheric mercury during Arctic sunrice _ International campain/intercompariosn

The general objective of the project is to increase the understanding of the Mercury Depletion Events occuring at Arctic sunrise and to quantify the input of mercury to polar ecosystems during this events.

Atmospheric processes Long-range transport
20. Biopolar investigations of physiological stress susceptibility and responses in microbes and arthropods

Seasonal ozone depletion in now occurring both in the Arctic and Antarctic, thus increasing levels of UV-B radiation reaching polar bilogical systems.

Biological effects UV radiation