Bear Island - Food chain studies: The key to designing monitoring programmes for Arctic islands

Updated 2000-10-23

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.

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project

Time frame

Project time span
1996 - 2002
Data collection
1996 - 2001
Data processing
2000 - 2002
Data reporting
2000 - 2002

Contact information

Contact person
Anita Evenset
Akvaplan-niva Polarmiljøsenteret 9296 Tromsø Norway
+47 777 50 300 / 50 311
+47 777 50 301
Other project contacts
Salve Dahle Akvaplan-niva Polarmiljøsenteret 9296 Tromsø Norway

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Algae (algae, phytoplankton)
Freshwater fish
Marine fish


Regions studied
Marine TDC

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
Data centres
Freshwater TDC
Marine TDC
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Skotvold et al. in prep. Organic contaminant accumulation in the food chain of two high arctic lakes on Bear Island, Norway
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

Methods follow national/international standards and guidelines where such exist. If guidelines do not exist sampling, sample treatment, analyses and storage are carried out according to procedures that are comparable to those described in national/international standards for other media/species. Laboratories involved: Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) - POPs in biota University of Stockholm, Institute for Applied Environmental Research - POPs in water and phytoplankton, stabile isotopes

QA/QC Information (what QA/QC procedures are implemented, laboratories involvment in QA/QC activities, model verification/validation routines, etc.)

NILU is accredited for analyses of "conventional POPs" according to EN 45001. Analyses that are not accredited follow the same procedures as the accredited analyses. NILU also participates in international interlaboratory exercises (i.e.QUASIMEME)

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

Norwegian Polar Institute Norwegian Institute for Air Research University og Tromsø University of Stockholm, Institute for Applied Environmental Research

Other related projects

"Ellasjøen, Bear Island: A mass balance study of a highly contaminated Arctic lake"

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