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The 2003 field activity will be mainly dedicated to coring activity which includes: 1. the sampling of snow and ice cores from a Ny-Ålesund nearby glacier (midre Lovenbreen). 2. the collection of near coast (Kongsfjorden) and lakes sediments (maximum under pack depth 30 m). Sampling collection of ice and sediment cores will be performed using a portable, electric operated, sampling corer. The transport of all materials up to each sampling station should be performed with snowcats.
The aims of the project are: - to evaluate the fluxes of radionuclides in the water column and their accumulation in the sediment, on a short-time scale; - to determine the C/N and delta13C-delta15N ratios in suspended and sedimentary matter, and test their use as tracers of origin, composition and transformation pathways of organic particles. The selected study area is the Kongsfjord-Krossfjord system, Svalbard, considered as representative test-site for studying processes occurring in Arctic fjords. The focus of the project will be on the processes occurring at the glacier-sea interface, where enhanced lithogenic and biogenic particle fluxes are reported in summer. Specific methods will be used to trace the particle sources. The rate of accumulation-resuspension processes will also be investigated from the inner fjord to the outer continental shelf.
The goal is to understand, how bacteria in Arctic sediments are adapted to low temperature and how (climatic) changes of temperature may affect the rate and pathways of carbon cycling and the balance of mineral cycles. The diversity and physiology of bacterial populations of fjord sediments on West-Spitzbergen will be studied by a combination of molecular (16S rRNA sequence analyses and in situ hybridization) and microbiological (isolation and physiology of pure cultures) approaches. The metabolic activity of these bacteria in the sea floor and the temperature regulation of the dominant mineralization processes will be analysed by experimentel techniques during the research period in Ny Ålesund. The focus will be on the enzymatic cleavage of polymeric carbohydrates, the anaerobic respiration through sulfate reduction, the reduction of iron and mangenese oxides, and the turnover of volatile fatty acids and hydrogen. Subsequently, psychrophilic bacteria are isolated from the anoxic sediments and studied in pure culture. The bacterial populations in the sediment are studied by molecular methods to analyze their diversity and metabolic activity.
To distinguish between atmospheric and marine transport of contaminants to northen latitudes by comparison inventories of lake and fjordic sediments.
3-D GPR (ground penetrating radar) profiling of permafrost deposits and examination of their geocryologic and sediment properties for verification of GPR profiles. The scientific project has the following aims: To improve the understanding of how GPR (ground penetrating radar) reflections are generated in frozen ground; to reveal the main factors (geophysical and sedimentary) controlling electromagnetic reflection characteristics and their spatial continuity as examplarily studied along a continuous permafrost section, i.e. to distinguish between physical (dielectricity, conductivity and density) and sedimentary (ice/water content, grain size distribution, content of organic matter, texture) properties and estimate their proportionate quantity on the origin of the wave reflections.
In the wake of topical research issues such as global change and energy resources, one can recognize two priority targets for the study of fossil plant remains: - insight into the role of land plants and phytoplankton as monitors, recorders, motors and moderators of climatic and environmental change; -insight into the predictive value of organic remains with respect to genesis, composition, occurrence, quality and quantity of fossil fuel reserves. In harmony with these targets, current research at the Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology (LPP) is aimed to provide for basic contributions to the palaeoecological study and interpretation of Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic plant life. Four interconnected areas of scientific emphasis are currently distinguished: - biotic change: documentation and causal analysis of changes of past plant biota in terrestrial and marine environments, both at short and long time-scales; - selective preservation: identification of the biological, physical and chemical factors that determine selective preservation of organic matter during transport, sedimentation and burial; - methodology: development and introduction of new analytical methodology relevant to the study and interpretation of fossil plant remains; - systematics: generation and compilation of systematic data aimed at the accurate identification and classification of fossil plant remains. Overview of results LPP strives after a balance between the study of land plant remains and organic-walled marine phytoplankton (mainly dinoflagellates). Research objectives are related to both short (latest Pleistocene-Holocene) and long time-scales (late Palaeozoic-Cenozoic). Short time-scales Modern land plant communities can be understood only in the light of their history since the onset of the last deglaciation (15,000 yr BP). In western and southern Europe this history is governed by the climatically induced spread of forest communities and their subsequent recession as man's influence expanded. Through fine-scale analysis (temporal and spatial, as well as systematic), of assemblages of microscopic and macroscopic plant remains, research concentrates on the accurate discrimination between autogenic, climatically induced, and anthropogenic vegetational change in contrasting physiographic entities: (1) crystalline mountains in France and the Iberian peninsula; (2) landscapes characterized by Pleistocene-Holocene eolian (sand, loess) deposition in the Netherlands and Germany; (3) fluvial plains in the Netherlands; (4) littoral landscapes in Portugal, and (5) Arctic landscapes of Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen and Greenland. Following earrlier research experiences with respect to the palaeoecological analysis of pollen assemblages from the Vosges (France), in the research period special attention was given to deciphering the complex, altitude related, late Pleistocene-Holocene pollen signals from other low mountain ranges. Results have demonstrated that the spatial distribution of vegetation patterns can be followed through time by recognizing: (1) common time-proportionate trends in pollen values, and (2) local pollen components characteristic for altitudinal vegetation zones and lake/mire development. Long time-scales For the recognition and evaluation of biotic change on long time-scales, LPP concentrates on the study of land plant and phytoplankton records from sedimentary successions that contrast with respect to: (1) time of formation (selected late Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic intervals); (2) paleotectonic and palaeogeographic history (intracratonic; passive and active plate margins); (3) depositional environment (terrestrial to deep-marine); and (4) biogeographic provinciality. Temporal and spatial distribution patterns of plant remains are explored for proxy variables indicative of terrestrial and marine environmental change. Investigated variables include land temperature, humidity, precipitation, runoff, sea-level, sea surface temperature, salinity, nutrient supply, productivity, organic burial rate and CO2 level. In the review period particular attention has been given to the development of palaeoecological models of dinoflagellate cyst distribution in marine sediments. It has been shown that: (1) the potential of dinoflagellates in Mesozoic and Cenozoic time-resolution may frequently exceed that of planktonic foraminifera and calcareous nannoplankton, and (2) dinoflagellates can be applied in novel ways to further the environmental understanding of depositional sequences and sedimentary cycles defined by physical (seismic, sedimentological) analysis. Although research related to global change programmes is generally restricted to the Late Tertiary-Quaternary, there is one notable exception. It is recognized that a better understanding of the patterns and processes of past mass extinctions can contribute to an understanding of present and future man-induced extinction processes. Work by LPP concentrates on the profound biotic crises at the Permian/Triassic (P/Tr) and Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) junctions. Study of the P/Tr land plant record has now revealed ecosystem collapse in the terrestrial biosphere. At the K/T junction, it has been demon-strated that dinoflagellates have remained immune to extinction. Independent of configurations predicted by meteorite-impact or massive volcanism, therefore, palynological studies enable high-resolution reconstruction of environmental change, both during pre-crisis times and the phases of K/T ecosystem decline and recovery.
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.
The project aims to describe the environmental status of marine sediments in van Mijenfjorden. This to provide baseline data of contaminants and biodiversity, as well as for monitoring of eventual contamination from industrial activities (coal mining).
Investigation of benthic faunal communities for: taxon distribution/ biodiversity mapping; examination of effects of glacial and physical disturbance on community structure; relation between faunal structure and sediment contaminants.
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.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are persistent and lipophilic compounds used as flame retardants in electronic equipment, plastic material and synthetic fibbers among other things. The PBDEs are mainly used as Deca-BDE and Bromokal 70-5DE, a mixture of tetra-, penta- and hexa-BDE. Due to its chemical and physical properties PBDEs, especially TeBDEs, tend to bioaccumulate. PBDEs were first reported in sediments in USA, and in fish from a Swedish river. More recently PBDEs have also been reported in seals, birds, mussels, whales and humans. In this study an SFE-method for rapid analysis of PBDEs in marine mammals was developed. This method was used to determinate the concentrations of these environmental pollutants in Pilot Whale samples caught in the Faroe Islands, Beluga Whales from the Arctic and Polar Bears from Svalbard. Using this method several PBDEs were analysed in the different species. In addition methoxylated PBDEs (Me-O-PBDE) were identified by interpretation of the different mass spectra’s. Of the 209 theoretical possible congeners only a few PBDE seem to accumulate in the environment. Accumulation of PBDE is related to the different chemical properties of the molecule. With the help of multivariate characterisation of a compound class using semi-empirical molecular orbital calculations, literature data and actual experimental measurements, the behaviour of PBDE in the environment can be modelled and predicted. Such models are essential in order to gain more insight in the behaviour of PBDE in the environment.