Newly published ICE-article in the Chinese magazine Nature & SciTech

An article on Effects of diminishing sea ice on the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, by Drs. Haakon Hop and Nalan Koc from the Norwegian Polar Institute, was recently published in collaboration with the science editor Jianhong Xia in Nature & SciTech (May-June 2011, No. 185: 40-43).

Photo: Tor Ivan Karlsen / Norwegian Polar Institute

Nature & SciTech is a high-quality magazine featuring scientific innovations, technology and a wide variety of natural science and health research. It is published in Mandarin Chinese and has thousands of readers throughout China.

Our article profiles research conducted within the Centre for Ice, Climate & Ecosystems – ICE at the Norwegian Polar Institute. It focuses on the changes which are involved with sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, north of the Svalbard area, as a consequence of climate warming. During the recent years, we have seen more rapid changes in ice thickness and extent than models can predict (e.g. IPCC). Our research project in ICE has studied physical and biological processes in drifting sea ice north of Svalbard during research cruises with RV Lance in August (2010) and May (2011). We study how physical processes affect sea ice melting and distribution, water mass characteristics and heat transport, and try to assess how changes in physical processes affect production and structure of the ice-associated ecosystem. Diminishing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean will directly impact this ecosystem through loss of ice habitat, which could result in dramatic changes in the large animal populations that are normally associated with Arctic pack ice. As the travelling distance from Svalbard to the marginal ice zone increases, this may change the foraging patterns of marine mammals and seabirds. On the other hand, more open water may create new hot spots for productivity and expanded distribution of more temperate zooplankton and fishes.

Arctic warming with diminishing ice has reached far into the agendas of governmental agencies and politicians. For a large part, the information and knowledge are insufficient, imprecise models and poor predictions; except that we know that there will be dramatic changes and ecosystem consequences. Many changes seen in the Arctic are not limited to this region but are of global significance. An important goal for the ICE-centre is to improve the precision of future climate models.

The ambition of the ICE-centre is to be world-leading in polar research, but this can only be achieved through international collaboration with competent researchers around the world. To facilitate increased collaboration between the Norwegian and Chinese scientists, the Norwegian Research Council together with the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently opened a call for collaborative research projects and the Norwegian Polar Institute, and the Polar Research Institute of China have signed an agreement to strengthen the collaboration on polar research. We expect that our article will provide needed information in China on what research we conduct in the Arctic and hope it will enhance our scientific collaboration with China.