Project participants: ICE Ecosystems

Kit Kovacs

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Dr. Kit M. Kovacs

Biodiversity Section Leader at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I have worked with marine mammals in polar regions for the past 30+ years, commencing fieldwork in the High Arctic while I was still an undergraduate. Most of my research projects have dealt with ecology and population biology of ice-associated seals and whales – including harp seals, hooded seals, harbour seals, ice-breeding grey seals, bearded seals, ringed seals and walruses as well as the three ice-whales (narwhal, white whales and bowheads) and a few Antarctic species. I have always been interested in how animals live in relation to their environments, and each other, and am both intrigued and concerned about how climate change will impact marine ecosystems in the Arctic, especially key species such as ringed seals.

 

Christian Lydersen

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Dr. Christian Lydersen

Senior Scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I have worked with Artic marine mammals since 1981, mainly in Svalbard (but also in the North Atlantic Arctic more broadly, as well as in the Southern Ocean). I have conducted research programmes with all North Atlantic Arctic seal and whale species, mainly dealing with aspects of ecology, physiology and population biology.

Jon Aars

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Dr. Jon Aars

Research scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I have been responsible for the polar bear research program at the Norwegian Polar Institute since 2003. Samples and data from the capture-recapture program and other field studies have been used in a very wide range of projects with many collaborators, e.g. studies on toxicology, habitat use, disease, population genetics, population size estimation, and responses to human disturbance. My primary research interests are demography and population genetics. Current changes in sea ice conditions in several regions in the Arctic have had significant impacts on both physiology and various demographic parameters in local polar bear populations. The trends are very alarming and my research programme in Svalbard is thus now exploring how polar bears and their ecosystem respond to variations in sea ice both on a small and large scale, and trying to determine the mechanisms behind the changes that are being observed.

Øystein Varpe

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Dr. Øystein Varpe

Research scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I am an ecologist particularly interested in evolutionary ecology. Organisms have evolved in response to interactions with their physical and biological environment. If we understand the processes that have selected for the adaptations (or strategies) we observe, then we may also be able to predict how organisms will respond to environmental changes, such as altered sea ice conditions. I mostly work with zooplankton, fish and seabirds, and study energy storage, reproduction and migrations, particularly in relation to individual variability within species. I use statistical analyses of data as well as mathematical simulations of life histories and behaviors. And, I enjoy fieldwork and have performed several field studies in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Magnus Andersen

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Magnus Andersen

Senior engineer at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I hold a master degree in marine biology and have worked with marine mammals as an employee at the NPI since 1999. The main part of my work within ICE is affiliated with the polar bear program at the Polar Institute, and this year I had my 11th field season in Svalbard, capturing, tagging and taking sampling from polar bears. My professional interests are broad and include a variety of ecological issues connected to polar bears and their prey, but also human influences on the polar bears through pollution and disturbance. Climate change is important in all of these issues, and I hope and believe that through ICE Ecosystems we can shed light on how polar bears in Svalbard are being affected by changes in the Arctic environment.

Hallvard Strøm

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Hallvard Strøm

Research scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I am a seabird ecologist at the Norwegian Polar Institute, which means in practice that I study the interactions between birds and the environment they live in. I had my first field season in Svalbard in 1992 and have conducted studies of seabirds on Svalbard, in Russia and in the Antarctic since that time. One of my main tasks is to run the NPI seabird monitoring program on Bjørnøya. I started a research programme with ivory gulls in 2006; this species is currently threatened by declining sea ice, so studies of their ecology, life history and abundance are particularly valuable at this time.

 

Vidar Bakken

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Vidar Bakken

Biologist

I’m a biologist who has worked on Svalbard (annually) since 1986. From 1986 to 2000, I was employed at the Norwegian Polar Institute as a seabird ecologist, focussing on various seabird species on Bjørnøya. I have worked with ivory gulls since 1994, when the first colour-banding studies were started on Spitsbergen. Since then I have taken part in fieldwork with this species in several seasons.


 

Audun Igesund

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Audun Igesund

Graphic designer / cliff-climber

I am a graphic designer at the Norwegian Polar Institute. In the ivory gull project I am responsible for cliff-climbing to catch the ivory gulls. Although this is not my day-job, I have been climbing for more than 25 years, and it is very satisfying to use my skills as a climber in this research project. My love for the sport, and the exciting results we are getting from the tracking studies of the birds almost makes me forget the cold and sometimes uncomfortable field life on Svenskøya. This is the fourth season for me in this project.

Anders Skoglund

Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Anders Skoglund

Senior engineer at the Norwegian Polar Institute

I am a senior engineer in the Mapping section at the Norwegian Polar Institute. In my daily work, I am usually engaged with the production of topographical maps of Svalbard, Internet map services and production of thematic maps for scientific and management purposes. In the ivory gull project I am responsible for various mapping activities: in advance of survey flights, I prepare sketch maps and colony coordinates for the GPS receivers; once in the air, I scout for ivory gulls like the others onboard; when colonies are spotted, I register new colony coordinates and register observation data and; back on the ground, I prepare maps of the routes and help integrate new findings using GIS software.