Arctic plankton ecology and related sedimentary flux under climate change


The Arctcic Ocean reacts more sensitive to Gloabal Change than other oceans. Sea ice strongly decraeses, temperatures rise at least twice as much, acidification and, the influence of warmer water from the North Atlantic is increasing ('Altantification')

In order to understand and follow the changes it is essential to perform continuous observations. Since 1991 samples have been taken and analysed and more will be taken in the future mainly as part of projects such as FRAM, LTER HAUSGARTEN, PEBCAO in different regions of the Arctic Ocean. The main goal of our arctic research is to understand and follow seasonal and interannual fluctuations of particle formation, modification, and sedimentation in relation 1) to the environment and changes therein, 2) to changes in key species performances and, 3) to changes in food web structures.

Technical assistance

Nadine Knüppel

Christiane Lorenzen


in association with







Investigations since 1991

Phyto- and Protozooplankton

Protist plankton in FRAM strait surface water:

top left: a diatom (Thalassiosira sp.), top right: a flagellate colony consisting of foam algae Phaeocystis pouchetii

bottom left: a radiolaria, bottom right: a ciliate (Acanthostomella norvegica)

Phytoplankton biomass

The determination of chlorophyll a in the water column represents a measure for the biomass of phytoplankton. Here, the biomass, integrated into a 100 m water column, is stated for analysis between 1991 and 2013, during summer months. While in FRAM strait and on the arctic shelves, a relatively high proportion of biomass was being observed, the proportion of biomass in central Arctic, sea ice covered waters is relatively low.

Team work

Plankton Ecology and Biogeochemistry in a Changing Arctic Ocean (PEBCAO) is the name and the research focus of a group working together since 2009. The group is consisting of scientists of the section Polar Biological Oceanography as well as of current and former Helmholtz Young Investigator Groups like Geo Car, PHYTOOPTICS and PLANKTOSENS. Biogeochemical parameters in the water column and plankton composition (bacterio-, photo and zooplankton), biodiversity and physiology are being analysed with a wide range of methods. Key aspect is to measure the changes of all parameters in relation to rise in temperature and acidification.