Polar bears in the Barents Sea population use their environment in two different ways. Bears that spend most of their time offshore are exposed to higher levels of pollutants than bears that stay along the coast due to differences in feeding habits, energy expenditure, and geographical distribution.
The Arctic is the fastest-warming region on Earth: ice is melting faster than ever, exposing land that is ripe for colonisation and occupation by both native and invading species. But it is not only flora and fauna that are traveling north: so are we. Homo sapiens, the greatest invader of them all.
On 7 April 1989, the Soviet nuclear attack submarine Komsomolets sank in the Norwegian Sea after a fire broke out. In the summer of 2019, Norwegian scientists finally had a chance to see the wreck on the seafloor with their own eyes and assess the status of any radioactive releases from the submarine.
Fridtjof Nansen set out to explore the Arctic Ocean with the research vessel Fram 126 years ago. His team of explorers and scientists returned from the ice three years later with new knowledge that changed our concepts and understanding of the Arctic Ocean, and made the Arctic part of Norwegian identity.
The very same carbon emissions responsible for harmful changes to climate are also fertilizing plant growth, which in turn is somewhat moderating global warming. This affect also remote places, like the High Arctic.
Svalbard reindeer live in the most rapidly changing Arctic environment. The 40-year monitoring shows population growth and increased carrying capacity of the tundra, but also harsher winters, greater isolation, and population reductions. Population developments thus diverge in the two core monitoring regions.
Ursus maritimus – the polar bear’s Latin name clearly identifies it as a marine animal, not a terrestrial one. Recent studies show they deserve this name: not only do they live much of their lives near sea ice; they also spend more time in the water, swim farther and dive deeper than was thought previously.
One hundred fifty years have passed since the birth of Johan Hjort (1869-1948). Best remembered for his groundbreaking theory from 1914 on the natural fluctuations of fish stocks, Hjort paved the way for materials and methods that are used to this day, not least in climate studies.
A cold wind gust hits our small aluminium boat, and we crash into another rolling wave. Spray splashes up but, for once, the cold, salty drops are welcome. Everyone in the fieldwork team is sweaty and breathless but very much alive. That was a close call, but we made it!
If you want to get Norwegians talking, just ask for their opinions on aquaculture. Use of pesticides to combat salmon lice in fish farms is a hotly debated topic all around Norway. But how much pesticide is actually spread in the environment? To find out, we’ve developed a new measurement strategy.
Sea ice covers parts of fjords in Svalbard for a limited time during winter and spring. The ice plays important roles for climate processes, such as heat and radiation fluxes between atmosphere and fjord water, and for the fjord’s ecosystem. Through the years, many studies have focused on Kongsfjorden.
September onboard the research vessel Lance north of Svalbard. Kristen, our mooring engineer, is happy. There is no sea ice to be seen anywhere – ideal conditions to find the instruments we left here two years ago attached to a rope, anchored to the seafloor, and held upright under water by several buoys.
Glacier fronts along Svalbard’s coast are dangerous places. Huge blocks of ice detach and crash into the ocean below, making data collection all but impossible. Now, researchers have found a solution: attaching sensors to ringed seals that dare to go where humans cannot. Seals make brave research assistants!
The oceans are filling with plastic. The water in some great Asian rivers is no longer visible below the flowing mass of trash. A rare Cuvier’s beaked whale stranded off the coast of Hordaland with its stomach full of plastic. Plastic waste is a formidable problem – with an unexpected possible solution.
Two researchers hunker by a fjord, oblivious to the magical blue of the January twilight. All their attention is focused on an unmanned aerial vehicle – a UAV. Gloveless despite the bitter cold, they manipulate the joystick and buttons on the remote control with numb fingers, preparing the drone for take-off.
Transparent eggs floating just beneath the ocean’s surface signal the beginning of life for one of the Arctic’s most abundant pelagic fish: polar cod. Throughout the Arctic, these small fish form the basis of many seabirds, seal, and whale diets. How will the millions of eggs and larvae handle future stressors?
The fisheries industry regularly harvests a share of managed commercial fish stocks. Fram Centre researchers examined the impact of oil spills on Norway’s main commercial fisheries, the Northeast Arctic cod, using advanced simulation technology.
Copper mines obviously yield copper, but they also produce waste material – tailings – which must be disposed of somehow. In Norway, tailings have often been dumped in fjords as an alternative to disposal on land. The environmental impact of this practice over time is not known.
As consumers, we constantly hear that we should cut down our use of plastic packaging and choose textiles made from natural materials, free from plastics. But does it really matter so much? A fresh study from the Arctic Ocean provides gloomy evidence of why it matters.
How can we manage environmental risk across 1 979 179 km² of the ocean and 100 915 km of coastline? How can we make a contingency plan to protect this vast area? And how can we make a new plan every fourth year with comparable results? That’s what the Norwegian Coastal Administration had to figure out.
Environmental chemist Dorte Herzke has an urgent mission. If she always seems to be locked away in the lab it’s because that’s where the magic happens, where she and her team are trying to figure out how to save the world.
Climate warming is rapidly altering the physical marine environment in fjords on the west coast of Svalbard towards a more temperate state. Reductions in sea ice cover and increased ocean temperatures are evident, resulting in changes of ice-associated and pelagic ecosystems.
A valuable development in international oceans governance is the growing importance of regional cooperation. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, there are currently about 60 international organizations that deal with in regional oceans governance. The increase in the number of these organizations is partly driven by the regional nature of many of the challenges confronting us in the oceans, as is the case is for the Arctic. Another important driver is the provisions on regional cooperation in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
Orrefjell mountain, in Salangen valley, Northern Norway, has one of Norway’s largest uranium deposits. The area is used for recreation and as pastureland for rough grazing animals, and the catchment area to the south is settled, with farms and houses. What does it mean to live on a mountain of uranium?
You may know that the carbon dioxide we humans release is changing the climate. Fewer are aware that it is also changing the chemistry of seawater. About a third of the CO2 we emit is taken up by the oceans, where it lowers the water’s pH. That has consequences for marine ecosystems.
A tiny sleeping beauty from the ocean depths is the key player in the spring bloom – the most fascinating processes in Arctic waters. Rising ocean temperatures may put this ecosystem clockwork at risk.
Pest insect outbreaks in the subarctic birch forest of northern Norway are among the most abrupt and large-scale ecosystem disturbances attributed to recent climate change in Europe. But such outbreaks have occurred regularly as far back as historical records go. What is new and why are moth outbreaks a cause of concern?
The Soviet research vessel "Sevastopol" arrived in Bergen on 16 February 1958. On board were eight scholars who were to resume the marine research cooperation that Norway and Russia had established before the Russian Revolution of 1917. Half a year later, Norwegian oceanographers returned the favour by visiting Murmansk.
Svalbard’s polar bears, which belong to the Barents Sea population, were hunted intensively up to protection in 1973. After that, the population recovered significantly. But in more recent years, sea ice loss in this area has been more severe than in any other polar bear habitat. How are they doing now?
Designing management strategies for ice-covered Arctic waters under variable environmental conditions is challenging, and becomes even more so when decision-making also involves consideration of variable environmental values. New methods are needed for integrated management of a dynamic marine Arctic.
Wildlife may partly buffer changing environmental conditions by adjusting their behaviour. Over thousands of years in a hostile environment, the wild Svalbard reindeer have developed strategies to cope with severe winter feeding conditions. How are they responding to increasingly rainy and icy winters?
The Arctic ocean is warmest when the air in the Arctic gets colder. This is when the sea ice north of Svalbard decreases. Researchers found changes in the physical marine environment that was so great that the ecosystems north of Svalbard had changed.
After the discovery that pesticides and industrial chemicals can spread to every corner of the world and harm wildlife, many were banned. For some, environmental levels fell quickly. But effects depend not just on levels, but also on interactions with other stressors. We need to understand these links.