Marine-biological experiment at Svalbard

More than 30 scientists from various European countries are currently travelling to Ny-Ålesund. During the next six weeks, they will participate in a large-scale study about the effect of increased CO2-concentrations on the pelagic marine ecosystem.

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund. Photo: Norsk Polarinstitutt

The experiment is part of the EU-project EPOCA about Ocean Acidification, addressing one of the most critical topics in the context of the ongoing climate change.

30 tons of equipment, including 9 huge enclosures (called mesocosms, each of them 17 m long and 2 m in diameter) have been transported by ship from Germany to Ny-Ålesund and are about to be established on site. They will be anchored in the fjord, filled with ambient sea water and then closed by divers. Afterwards, the CO2 concentration in the seawater will be manipulated along a gradient to simulate future CO2-concentrations in the ocean. During 6 weeks, the development of the planktonic and microbial food web in the bags, together with all kinds of physical and chemical parameters will be followed closely by the scientists.

From Norwegian Polar Institute, post doc. Eva Leu will participate in the experiments, looking for the effect of ocean acidification on phytoplankton food quality, with special focus on essential omega-3-fatty acids. Malin Daase(post doc.) will assist her with the sampling during the first two weeks, and collaborate with colleagues from Germany on feeding experiments with zooplankton. This research is carried out under the framework of the MERCLIM-project.

Forskerne foran mesokosmene

From the preparation meeting in Kiel this January, showing participating scientists in front of the mesocosms. Photo: Michael Mayerhöfer