Work packages

Listing of the different work packages, and their leaders.

WP1 Exploration and mapping

PI: Tore Haug (IMR).

WP1 will focus on obtaining an ecosystem description of the Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard. The WP will provide a baseline exploration study of which species are present in the waters under Norwegian jurisdiction of the Arctic Ocean and their distribution Key questions addressed in WP1 include:

Q1.1. What are the main physical/chemical oceanographic properties of the Arctic Ocean historically and today? What is the current status with respect to ocean acidification?

Q1.2. What are the major spatial patterns in biomass distribution of primary and secondary producers?

Q1.3. Which fish species (pelagic and demersal), benthic species, phytoplankton and zooplankton organisms, marine mammals and sea birds are the key players in the Arctic Ocean today?

Q1.4. Which of the current Arctic Ocean communities of pelagic and demersal species are a continuation of more southerly distributions of the Barents and Norwegian Seas, and which species are representatives of separate Arctic Ocean communities?


WP2 Functioning of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem

PI: Åge Høines (IMR).

WP2 will focus on process studies to explore particular hypotheses or assumptions and to determine of vital rates and parameters that are important for the functioning of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem in the study region. Key questions addressed in WP2 include:

Q2.1. What are the dominant processes regulating the inflow of Atlantic Water through Fram Strait and its impact on the Arctic Ocean heat content, vertical stratification and ice cover?

Q2.2. How does variations in water mass distribution, ice cover and freshwater affect the ocean chemistry and acidification state? How will changes in ocean acidification affect the ecosystem?

Q2.3. What are the regional differences with respect to phytoplankton species composition, abundance and growth, and how are these related to the ambient zooplankton dynamics? What are the nutrient uptake rates, growth and environmental requirement for key phytoplankton species? What are the role of zooplankton feeding activity and rates?

Q2.4. To which extent is the phytoplankton blooms and their associated biomass subject to loss through sedimentation?

Q.2.5. What are the response of key zooplankton species to the magnitude and quality of available food?

Q2.6. How is the trophic structure of selected important faunal components of the ecosystem (primary food source, trophic pathways and establishment of food web members’ relative trophic position). How do the key zooplankton species relate to the presence of important invertebrate, fish and marine mammal predators? What are prey-predator links between the Arctic Ocean shelf-slope/seabed and fish resources?


WP3 Changes in the Arctic Ocean ecosystem

PI: Harald Gjøsæter (IMR).

WP3 will focus on exploring particular hypotheses or assumptions that are crucial for ongoing and future changes in the Arctic Ocean ecosystem in the study region. Estimation of the carrying capacity of the ecosystem will be an important issue. Key questions addressed in WP3 include:

Q3.1. How will changes in Atlantic inflow, stratification, ice cover and ocean acidification affect the future Arctic Ocean?

Q3.2. Which conditions are necessary for organisms that presently are confined to the Barents or Norwegian Sea, to expand their distribution area northwards and establish in the Arctic Ocean? Of particular interest would be zooplankton (copepods, euphausiids and amphipods) and pelagic fish species like polar cod, capelin and herring as well as deep-sea fish as Greenland halibut and beaked redfish. Can these and other species expand their distribution into the Arctic and still spawn in the same areas as before, or are there more northern areas that will be suitable for spawning?

Q3.3. What are possible prey-predator links between the Arctic Ocean shelf-slope/seabed and possible future fish resources?

Q3.4. What impact would a possible increased migration of foraging whales have on the existing arctic resources?

Q3.5. What would the effect of further ice reduction be on populations of pagophilic species?

Q3.6. What would happen to Arctic grazers (fish, seals, whales, birds) if their traditional lipid rich prey species are replaced by more boreal and lipid-poor species (“junk food”)?


WP4 Ecosystem-based advice

PI: Lis L. Jørgensen (IMR).

The key task of WP4 is to 1) explore options for providing ecosystem-based scientific advice and 2) to prepare for a better defined advisory process at the IMR, utilizing also integrated ecosystem assessments. Drawing on WP1, 2 and 3, this WP will also contribute to the further development of long term monitoring (WP5).  Key questions addressed in WP4 include:

Q4.1. What are the objectives (maintain diversity, optimize recruitment and survival rate) of ecosystem-based management strategies and what type of tools (models, indicators etc) are used to give advice about the marine environment?

Q4.2. How can integrated assessments be designed and performed? How can the IMR´s current research surveys contribute to such assessments? What, if any, changes are required?

Q4.3. How can the internal advisory processes in the IMR be enhanced by integrated assessments and how can such insights be communicated to international scientific bodies and management authorities?


WP5 Design a long-term monitoring program

PI: Melissa Chierici (IMR).

WP5 will focus on developing a program suited for present and future monitoring of the waters under Norwegian jurisdiction in the Arctic Ocean. Long-term monitoring is crucial for tracking natural fluctuation and thereby detection of changes in the ecosystem. Key questions addressed in WP5 include:

Q5.1. What sampling strategies should be applied to the waters under Norwegian jurisdiction in the Arctic Ocean?

Q5.2. Which indicator areas for long-term monitoring of the waters under Norwegian jurisdiction in the Arctic Ocean should be defined?

Q5.3. What new methodology is necessary, and can be developed, and what other data sources (satellite data, buoys, gliders) could add valuable information for long-term monitoring?

Q5.4. What kind of numerical modelling (general circulation models, regional downscaling of climate models, bio-physical and/or ecosystem models) is needed?