This project will bring together marine researchers working on topics from bacteria to fish to teach methods across disciplines and optimize integrated marine monitoring of an Arctic marine ecosystem during a time of rapid climate change.
The Arctic is the epicenter of on-going climate change, with “amplified” warming proceeding at four times the global average in recent decades. This has manifested itself in dramatic physical and biotic changes at multiple levels of Arctic marine ecosystems. Polar ecosystems are characterized by extreme seasonal cycles. However, traditionally, logistical challenges in accessing remote Arctic marine ecosystems have forced most research and monitoring to be conducted during the ice-free summer period, producing a narrow seasonal window of ecosystem understanding. Ecosystem-wide monitoring throughout the entire annual cycle is needed to fill this knowledge gap.
Ny-Ålesund, with its unparalleled year-round accessibility and world-class research infrastructure, provides a nearly unequaled opportunity to access and monitor the Arctic marine ecosystem of Kongsfjorden. Over the last two years of SSG-funded network activity and annual meetings, the Kongsfjorden Flagship has developed an initiative to address this knowledge gap with a multidisciplinary, year-round ecosystem-based investigation of Kongsfjorden, called the “International Kongsfjorden Year” (IKY). Two large research projects have been submitted recently to fund personnel, fieldwork, and analyses for this Flagship initiative, one German (“YESSS”, PI Hoppe) and one Norwegian (“REVOLVE”, PIs Assmy and Bailey). These co-designed projects each focus on year-round, high-resolution monitoring of Kongsfjorden, with experts focusing on complementary components and trophic levels of the Kongsfjorden ecosystem. This network project would allow for the best possible integration of these projects, as well as further collaboration with Flagship members and other pelagic ecosystem monitoring programs across Svalbard, including Hornsund and Isfjorden via a methods standardization and a 7 day hands-on training course in Ny-Ålesund.