South African and Norwegian scientists are collaborating to improve our understanding of the Antarctic marine environment

Research shows that global warming and ocean acidification can have consequences for ecosystems and wildlife in the ocean off Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica.

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Information about the biological, chemical and physical processes that take place in this marine area in Dronning Maud Land is scarce, so we don't know how changes will affect the ecosystem and wildlife. Photo: Stein Tronstad / Norwegian Polar Institute

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The SANOCEAN project is led by Agneta Fransson at the Norwegian Polar Institute.. Photo: Elin Vinje Jenssen / Norwegian Polar Institute

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... and Sandy Thomalla at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Photo: The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

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RV S.A. Agulhas II from South Africa. Photo: Elin Vinje Jenssen / Norwegian Polar Institute

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RV Kronprins Haakon from Norway. Photo: Ann Kristin Balto / Norwegian Polar Institute

Information about the biological, chemical and physical processes that take place in this marine area is scarce, so we don't know how changes will affect the ecosystem and wildlife.

When Norway's new research vessel, the RV Kronprins Haakon, sails from Chile to Dronning Maud Land at the end of February, the goal will be to collect data to improve our knowledge about the marine environment here.

On board will be researchers and technicians from the Norwegian Polar Institute and cooperating institutions in Norway, in addition to two scientists from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa.

The South African researchers are participating on the cruise in connection with the SANOCEAN project, a collaboration between Norway and South Africa. In the project, both countries will collect marine data off Dronning Maud Land using the South African RV S.A. Agulhas II and the Norwegian RV Kronprins Haakon.

– The research is related to climate and environmental change, with the focus of the investigation on phytoplankton primary production and community characteristics, the oceanic carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake, progressing ocean acidification and changes in the marine ecosystem, explains project manager and researcher Agneta Fransson from the Norwegian Polar Institute.

SANOCEAN also emphasizes the collaboration between researchers from both countries, including students.

– Students play an important role in the collaboration. They will use both countries' technology and laboratory facilities, which in the long term will contribute to better knowledge of the ecosystem in the sea off Dronning Maud Land, says Fransson.

SANOCEAN is funded by the Research Council of Norway and the National Research Foundation in South Africa. The project is led by Agneta Fransson at the Norwegian Polar Institute and Sandy Thomalla at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Other collaborators are the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Stellenbosch University in South Africa.