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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 (79N, 12 E) and the Rijpfjord North-East of Svalbard (80N, 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.
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.
To monitor levels of pollutants in merlin by analysis of POPs and heavy metals in eggs and feathers. /Feathers and addled eggs of merlin were collected in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999 and 2000 for chemical analysis of POPs and heavy metals. Comparisons with eggs from museum collections show that there has been a significant shell thinning in eggs of Norwegian merlins. From 1947 up to 1990 the eggs were on average ca. 15% thinner than normal and after 1990 the thinning has been ca. 10%. There are still high concentrations of DDE to reduce reproductive output in some cases. The PCB levels are low compared to the DDE levels and the concentrations of other chlorinated hydrocarbons are also low. Results from mercury analyses indicate possible effects on breeding performance in some adults.
The present project includes one pilot study of wild adult glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) and one experimental study of glaucous gull chicks raised in captivity. The pilot study of adult gulls gave us enough blood and tissue samples to develop the methods needed for immune system analysis in the laboratory experiment. In the experimental study a total of 39 glaucous gull chicks were hatched and raised in captivity in Svalbard, Norway. The chicks were divided into two groups. One experimental group (20 chicks) was given food that mimicked the “natural” food found in the marine environment. The control group (19 chicks) was given “clean” food. After 56 days the chicks were sacrificed in order to collect samples for analyses of organochlorines (OCs) and immunocompetence measurements. The experimental group had 2.8, 3.9, 5.0, and 6.1 time’s higher concentrations of HCB, Oxychlordane, ?DDT, and ?PCB, respectively, compared to the control group at day 56. All chicks used in the experiment were immunised with various vaccines and sera in order to test their ability to respond against foreign antigens. The experimental chicks produced low levels of virus neutralising antibodies when tested against the herpes virus and reovirus. They produced higher levels of neutralising antibodies when tested to tetanus toxoid. There was, however, no difference between the experimental groups with regard to the mean antibody titres. The chicks in both groups also responded to the influenza virus by increasing the production of specific antibodies. However, the mean antibody titre in the exposed group was significantly lower than in the control group. The mitogen-induced response of blood lymphocytes to PHA and LPS was significantly higher in the exposed group compared to the control group. The specific response of blood lymphocytes to Con A, PWM, KLH, TET, and PPD was higher in the exposed group compared to the control group. However, do to high variance in the exposed group there was no significant difference between groups with regard to the lymphocyte response to these mitogens. The results from the present study indicate a toxic effect of OCs on the glaucous gull chicks, which induced a systematic activation of the immune system. Further work on data will be performed.
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.
The study covers many areas of ecotoxicology research on polar bears. Monitoring of POP levels and studies of effects on endocrine disruption, immune system, reproduction, and demography are all parts of the study.
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.
In 1994, analyses of sediments and fish from Lake Ellasjøen on Bear Island revealed a surprising scenario. The analytical results indicated some of the highest values of the contaminants PCB and DDT in freshwater sediments and fish ever found in the Arctic. The 1994 results were based on limited amounts of samples. During 1996 and 1997 there were carried out new sampling and analyses of several samples. These results verify the results found in 1994. Since the POP-patterns found deviate considerably from the typical patterns expected for local contamination, no local source can be assumed to be responsible for the high POP values found. Thus, the questions that need to be addressed include the source of these contaminants, the transport pathways that deliver these contaminants to this site, total deposition and finally contaminant fate including biological uptake and effects. Previous investigations from the early 80’s on high volume air samples carried out at Bear Island revealed several long-range transport episodes from Eastern Europe. The overall objective of this project is to contribute significant new information to the understanding of contaminant pathways in the Arctic hydrosphere and to provide a better understanding of contaminant focusing in a sensitive polar environment. This will be accomplished through the development of a comprehensive mass balance study of the atmospheric loadings of PCBs and other contaminants to the Lake Ellasjøen watershed to determine the seasonal importance of atmospheric deposition on a remote polar island. Further, effort will be directed at assessing the relative importance of various source regions of contaminants to the island through an evaluation of contaminant signatures and back trajectories of pollution events.
Levels of selected contaminants have been determined in sediment, blue mussel, seeweed and fish from harbour areas in Harstad, Tromsø, Hammerfest and Honningsvåg in northern Norway. The following contaminants were included in the study: PAH, PCB, 5CB, HCB, OCS, HCH, DDT, DDE, DDD, TBT, Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, Zn and Li. A few samples were also analysed for dioxines (PCDD and PCDF), non-ortho PCBs and PCN. The results were compared with the Norwegian State Pollution Control Authorities classification system for marine sediments (Molvær et al. 1997). Elevated (and in most cases very high) levels of most of the measured contaminants were found in all the investigated harbour areas.
The aim of the project is to detrmine the content of organic contaminants in sea ice (including dirty ice), sea water (particulate and dissolved), snow, ice algae and phytoplankton collected in the marginal ice zone of the Barents Sea and in Fram Strait, and to calculate bioconcentration factors from the abiotic compartments to the lowest trophic levels of the food chain. Silicate measurements were included in the Fram Strait as water mass tracer. The Barents Sea represents an area influence mainly by first year ice with sea ice formed in the area and or in the Kara Sea, and and strongly influenced by the inflowing two branches of water of Atlantic origin. Samples were collected on a transect along the ice edge and at two transects into the ice. The stations across the Fram Strait were taken in regions affected by water masses and sea ice from differents regions and age. In the western sector, the upper water column was influenced by the inflowing west Spitsbergen current of Atlantic origin and mainly with first-second year ice, while the easter station was influenced by outflowing water from the Arctic Ocean and multiyear sea ice of more eastern origin.
To investigate the impacts of Russia's military and civilian nuclear activities in the Kola Bay and adjacent areas of the northwest Arctic coast of Russia.
The project aims to carry out an environmental assessment of the marine environment close to the three main settlements in the Isfjorden complex; Barentsburg, Longyearbyen and Pyramiden. The study comprises analyses of sediment geochemistry and soft-bottom benthic fauna. Attention is given to distinguishing atmospheric transport of contaminants from those arising from local sources.
Previous studies (Akvaplan-niva 1994 and 1996) on levels of POPs in limnic systems on Bear Island have shown that sediment and fish from a lake on the southern part of the island (Ellasjøen) have some of the highest levels of PCB and DDT that has been reported from Arctic areas. In a lake situated in the more central part of the island (Øyangen) levels are much lower, and in the same range as reported for lakes in Northern Norway and the Canadian Arctic. No local sources for contamination exist on Bear Island, and it is therefore likely that the contaminants are brought to the island with long-range atmospheric transport. The difference between the two investigated lakes on Bear Island may be due to differences in deposition of precipitation. This theory is currently being investigated through another project called: “Ellasjøen, Bear Island - A mass balance study of a high contaminated Arctic area." Another possible sources for contaminants to Ellasjøen can be the large colonies of seabirds that are situated close to the lake or use the lake for bathing. These seabirds may accumulate contaminants through their marine food chains and deposit guano in Ellasjøen and surrounding areas. Øyangen is much less influenced by seabirds than Ellasjøen. The aim of the present project is to map levels of selected persistent organic pollutants and study their biomagnification in freshwater and marine food chains at/near Bear Island. By linking the results from freshwater and marine food chains we aim to elucidate whether trophodynamics and interaction between marine and terrestrial food chains can be a natural mechanisms for biomagnification of POPs in specific geographic areas.
To clarify whether metals and/or POPs affect marine fish species - Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa)
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.
The objective is to study the relationship between natural seasonal variations in body lipid status of sea migrating Arctic charr and disposition (e.g. tissue distribution)of PCB, particularly in relation to the toxical potential of a certain body burden of PCB.
The objectives are to test the hypothesis that the tissue re-distribution of PCB are linked to the metabolic status of the Arctic charr and that the tissue re-distribution of PCB associated with fasting will decrease the overall performance characeristics of the Arctic charr.