Glider through Arctic and Atlantic water masses on the coast of Svalbard
An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which looks a bit like the submarine from the Beatles song "Yellow submarine" will investigate the water masses along the coast of Svalbard. It will log temperature, salinity and fluorescence in Arctic and Atlantic water masses from the surface down to 700 m depth. This is a unique project which will acquire large amounts of new data from the water masses on the coast of Svalbard.
Oceanographers have shown that cold water masses move northward on the shelf along the west coast, whereas warmer Atlantic water in the West Spitsbergen Current goes outside the shelf edge on its way north in Fram Strait. These water masses mix and are carried into the open fjords on the west side of Spitsbergen, such as Kongsfjorden which will be particularly studied during this cruise by the Norwegian Polar Institute with RV Lance.
During the last decade, since 2006, more Atlantic water has entered Kongsfjorden during the winter, which has resulted in weaker fronts between Arctic and Atlantic water masses on the shelf, and warmer water and less landfast ice inside the fjord. This has affected the ecosystem in Kongsfjorden, with higher relative abundance of boreal, more southern species, and less Arctic species in the fjord.
The Glider Sea Explorer was deployed on 25 July outside Prins Karls Forland. It has a long antenna that sends data via iridium and it is programmed to dive to near bottom or to maximum 700 m depth. It has a GPS antenna and a compas and is steered along a track from the shelf to deeper sea in a zig-zag pattern along the coast. The Glider will be picked up at the end of our cruise somewhere near the north-western corner of Spitsbergen.
The Sea Explorer glider is from University Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC) and has been deployed in collaboration with Dr. Arild Sundfjord and Dr. Amelie Meyer at the Norwegian Polar Institute. Zoe Koenig, UPMC is the participant of the cruise responsible for the glider.
At the glacial front in Kongsfjorden, 28 July, 2017. Cruise Leader Haakon Hop, Norwegian Polar Institute