Weekly Reports Polarstern

The Expedition PS107 to the Arctic (Tromsø - Tromsø)

The Polarstern expedition PS107 to the Arctic (Tromsø – Tromsø) will start on 23 July 2017 and lead particularly to study areas in the central and eastern Fram Strait.

It will contribute to various large national and international research and infrastructure projects (e.g. INTAROS, FRAM, SIOS, OceanSITES) as well as to the research program PACES-II (Polar Regions and Coasts in the changing Earth System) of the Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI). Investigations within the Work Package 'Arctic sea ice and its interaction with ocean and ecosystems' of the PACES-II program, aim at assessing and quantifying ecosystem changes from surface waters to the deep ocean in response to the retreating sea ice, and at exploring the most important (feedback) processes determining temporal and spatial variability. Contributions to the Work Package 'Large scale variability and change in polar benthic biota and ecosystem functions' include the identification of spatial patterns and temporal trends in relevant benthic community functions, and the development of a comprehensive science community reference collection of observational data. Work carried out within these work-packages will support the time-series studies at the LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) observatory HAUSGARTEN, where we document Global Change induced environmental variations on a polar deep-water ecosystem. This work is carried out in close co-operation between the HGF-MPG Joint Research Group on Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology, the PEBCAO Group (Phytoplankton Ecology and Biogeochemistry in the Changing Arctic Ocean) at AWI and the Helmholtz Young Investigators Group SEAPUMP (Seasonal and regional food web interactions with the biological pump), representing a joint effort between the AWI, the MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, and the University of Bremen.

A working-group of the Bremen University will investigate the sensitivity of Arctic zooplankton to temperature change. Zooplankton organisms are particularly suitable as indicators of environmental change due to their rapid response (generally short life-cycles) and their direct coupling to physical forcing (relatively passive drifters).

One group of the Institute of Environmental Physics investigates the reasons for a stronger warming within the Arctic compared to other world regions and why actual climate models are still unable to reflect those effects. Within this project they investigate the geographical and temporal distribution of H2O, HDO, thin clouds and aerosol in the Arctic. Together with the same suite of measurements at the AWIPEV research base in Ny Ålesund, Spitsbergen the measurements will allow us to assess the representativity of the supersite in Ny Ålesund for the Arctic.

The expedition will also be used to accomplish installations for the HGF infrastructure project FRAM (Frontiers in Arctic marine Monitoring). The FRAM Ocean Observing System aims at permanent presence at sea, from surface to depth, for the provision of near real-time data on Earth system dynamics, climate variability and ecosystem change. It serves national and international tasks towards a better understanding of the effects of change in ocean circulation, water mass properties and sea-ice retreat on Arctic marine ecosystems and their main functions and services. FRAM implements existing and next-generation sensors and observatory platforms, allowing synchronous observation of relevant ocean variables as well as the study of physical, chemical and biological processes in the ocean. Experimental and event-triggered platforms complement the observational platforms. Products of the infrastructure are continuous long-term data with appropriate resolution in space and time, as well as ground-truthing information for ocean models and remote sensing.

The cruise will end on 19 August 2017 in Tromsø (Norway).

PS106/2 - Weekly Report No. 9 | 16 - 23 July 2017

Week 9: Fish!

[20. July 2017] 

As soon as we reached the more open marginal sea ice zone in the Barents Sea east of Svalbard, we could finally start fishing with the bottom trawl. Most parts of our area of investigation had a closed pack-ice cover reaching far south onto the Svalbard and Barents Sea shelves.

PS106/2 - Weekly Report No. 8 | 09 - 16 July 2017

Week 8: Returning to Svalbard

[17. July 2017] 

After concluding our 4th ice station at the northernmost location of this expedition, Polarstern set a south-westerly course, heading for the position of our well-known PASCAL ice floe of PS 106/1. This time, many open leads allowed a mostly gentle passage through the ice.

PS106/2 - Weekly Report No. 7 | 2 - 9 July 2017

Week 7: In the deep Arctic Ocean

[10. July 2017] 

During our northward transect, Polarstern bit its way through heavy sea ice, hard as concrete and covered with a thick layer of snow. This altogether slowed down our progress into the north significantly. During our journey in the thick ice across the deepening Arctic Ocean, wildlife became scarcer and scarcer. Patches of Melosira arctica were only spotted rarely.

PS106/2 - Weekly Report No. 6 | 26 June - 2 July 2017

Week 6: From East Svalbard towards the deep Arctic Ocean

[04. July 2017] 

The past week we started in the marginal sea ice zone east of Svalbard, and then set course north into the central Arctic Ocean.The marginal sea ice zone was mostly covered with decaying sea ice and some larger ice-free areas. On this side of Svalbard we saw a lot more wildlife than in the westerly part. A large number of birds are constantly circling around the ship looking for fish, which can be spotted on overturning ice floes during ice breaking.

PS106/2 - Weekly Report No. 5 | 21 - 26 June 2017

Week 5: From Longyearbyen around Svalbard

[27. June 2017] 

The end of PS106/1 was garnished with amazing views of the Spitsbergen coastline in the midnight sun (Fig. 1). While scientists and crew members celebrated the successful completion of the PASCAL study and its interdisciplinary physical, biological and biogeochemical partners, wales and seals occasionally approached Polarstern.