Arctic PRoductivity in the seasonal Ice ZonE (Arctic PrIZE)

Lead Research Organisation: Scottish Association For Marine Science
Department Name: Contracts Office

Abstract

Arctic PRIZE will address the core objective of the Changing Arctic Ocean Program by seeking to understand and predict how change in sea ice and ocean properties will affect the large-scale ecosystem structure of the Arctic Ocean. We will investigate the seasonally and spatially varying relationship between sea ice, water column structure, light, nutrients and productivity and the roles they play in structuring energy transfer to pelagic zooplankton and benthic megafauna.

We focus on the seasonal ice zone (SIZ) of the Barents Sea - a highly productive region that is undergoing considerable change in its sea ice distribution - and target the critically important but under-sampled seasonal transition from winter into the post-bloom summer period. Of critical importance is the need to develop the predictive tools necessary to assess how the Arctic ecosystems will respond to a reducing sea ice cover. This will be achieved through a combined experimental/modelling programme. The project is embedded within international Arctic networks based in Norway and Canada and coordinated with ongoing US projects in the Pacific Arctic. Through these international research networks our proposal will have a legacy of cooperation far beyond the lifetime of the funding. The project comprises five integrated work packages.

WP1 Physical Parameters: We will measure properties of the water column (temperature, salinity, turbulent fluxes, light, fluorometry) in both open water and under sea ice by deploying animal-borne tags on seals which preferentially inhabit the marginal ice zone (MIZ). We will use ocean gliders to patrol the water around the MIZ and track it as the ice retreats northwards in summer. Measurements of underwater light fields will support development of improved regional remote sensing algorithms to extend the spatial and temporal context of the proposal beyond the immediate deployment period.

WP2 Nutrient Dynamics: We will undertake an extensive program of measuring inorganic and organic nutrients, their concentrations, isotopic signatures and vertical fluxes to understand the role of vertical mixing and advection (WP1) in regulating nutrient supply to PP in the surface ocean.

WP3 Phytoplankton Production: We will investigate nutrient supply (WP2) and light availability (WP1) linked to sea ice affect the magnitude, timing, and composition of phytoplankton production, and the role of seasonal physiological plasticity. Through new numerical parameterisations - cross-tuned and validated using a rich array of observations - we will develop predictive skill related to biological production and its fate; resolve longstanding questions about the competing effects of increased light and wind mixing associated with sea ice loss; and therefore contribute to the international effort to project the functioning of Pan-Arctic ecosystems.

WP4 Zooplankton: Zooplankton undergo vertical migrations to graze on PP at the surface. We will use acoustic instruments on moorings and AUVs, with nets and video profiles to measure the composition and behaviours of pelagic organisms in relation in light and mixing (WP1) and phytoplankton production (WP3) over the seasonal cycle of sea ice cover. The behaviours identified will be used to improve models that capture the life-history and behavioural traits of Arctic zooplankton. These models can then be used to investigate how feeding strategies of key Arctic zooplankton species may be modified during an era of reducing sea ice cover.

WP5 Benthic Community: We will use an AUV equipped with camera system to acquire imagery of the large seabed-dwelling organisms to investigate how changes in sea ice duration (WP1), timing of PP (WP3) and bentho-pelagic coupling (WP4) can modify the spatial variation in benthic community composition. We will also conduct time series-studies in an Arctic fjord using a photolander system to record the seasonally varying community response to pulses of organic matter.

Planned Impact

Science-led: Arctic PRIZE is focused on improving the modelling capabilities of pan-Arctic ecosystem models. The modelling community will benefit from this research through integration of Arctic PRIZE with NEMO/MEDUSA (and subsequently with the UK Met Office and Hadley Centre) and other IPCC pan-Arctic model frameworks. We have partnerships with UK, US and Norwegian modelling groups and through these there will be improved projections for Arctic ecosystems in place for the next IPCC assessment.

Broader engagement with the science community will be through one of the largest annual meetings between science and stakeholders in the Arctic - Arctic Frontiers, hosted in Tromso, Norway. Arctic PRIZE will establish a special session at the Arctic Frontiers conference to disseminate the findings of the project and establish academic ties with other Arctic research programs. We will be exceptionally well placed, through our international collaborators, to contribute to regional assessments of the Barents Sea and wider pan-Arctic integration. PDRAs and PhD staff working on Arctic PRIZE will benefit through becoming members of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists and the Norwegian marine ecology network ARCTOS. This will ensure appropriate career development through training, peer engagement and networking.

Policy-led: The UK government made a clear statement of interest in the Arctic with the publication of the House of Lords report "Responding to a Changing Arctic" in 2015. To support UK interests we will develop a strong relationship with the UK Arctic Office to feed new science towards policy development in the areas of ecosystem services, fisheries and economic development - of particular relevance to emerging trade routes and mineral resources. Internationally, Arctic PRIZE will engage as a collaborator on a coordinated NSF program linked to Alaska fisheries and into Norwegian policy structures through our Project Partners in the Institute of Marine Research.

Outreach-led: The Arctic is a source of great public interest. The research team will interact with the public through personal, group and institutional websites, social media and links to exhibition centres such as SAMS' Ocean Explorer Centre (OEC) and the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC). This activity will be supported by training for PDRAs and PIs in the form of participation in the GSC 'Inspire and Challenge' professional science communication course. PDRAs and PIs will build on this by taking part in 'Meet the Expert' events at GSC before and after cruises and will maintain an interactive 'Arctic Expedition Blog' while at sea. The research team will work with GSC staff to develop an interactive exhibit that illustrates the role of greenhouse gases on warming of the Arctic and impact on ecosystem function. This exhibit will form part of GSCs upcoming EnviroScience Gallery and will showcase our research to an annual audience of over 300,000 visitors, including ~75,000 structured education visits. Arctic PRIZE will also allow us to expand formal science education locally in Argyll, from nursery to primary/secondary schools and undergraduate degree level building on previously highly successful talks/lectures, teaching material and visitor centre facilities (OEC) used to showcase science in the Arctic. Finally Arctic PRIZE will develop focused outreach videos by engaging a scientific film maker. These will help to illustrate and explain the key science messages in Arctic PRIZE to a wider audience.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/P006302/1 01/02/2017 28/02/2021
1971604 Studentship NE/P006302/1 01/08/2017 31/01/2021 Martin Foley
1971813 Studentship NE/P006302/1 01/10/2017 31/01/2021 Judith Bruan
 
Description Environmental Audit Committee - Changing Arctic
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Scottish Government - Arctic Policy Framework
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Chronobiology of changing Arctic Sea Ecosystems (CHASE)
Amount £272,053 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R012733/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Description UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromso 
Organisation University of Tromso
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint research cruises in the Arctic as part of NERC's Changing Arctic Ocean Program. Access to ship, data, etc
Collaborator Contribution Shared use of ship time, access to storage and equipment.
Impact Joint cruise data
Start Year 2017
 
Description Arctic Circle Assembly 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A talk was presented at the Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was a large international gathering encompassing a broad range of backgrounds from politiicans, to industry to policy makers, the general public as well as students and other researchers.
Discussion followed on the impacts of microplastics in the Arctic, what products are being produced to replace plastic etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.arcticcircle.org/assemblies/2018
 
Description Arctic Frontiers - Special Session by UK FCO 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentaiton and Panel participant at "Practical International Cooperation for Marine Research: UK-Norway-Russia" Organised by The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.arcticfrontiers.com/
 
Description BBC Scotland: The Scots scientists on a nightshift Arctic expedition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio interview and presence on BBC Scotland website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-42567300
 
Description Presentation to Scottish International Marine Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented at a workshop titled "International Ocean Governance " within the Scottish International Marine COnference . Title of my contribution was "Scotland's contribution to the international Arctic research community: why should we care and what can we achieve?"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.marineconference2019.scot/
 
Description School visit (Taynuilt) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I visited Taynuilt Primary School to highlight the research that was undertaken during the Arctic PRIZE programme. About 25 pupils were present (8-10 year olds). The children asked a multitude of questions ranging from general polar biology through to more specifics about the impact of a changing climate. The children wanted to know what they could do to try and make a change. The children also wanted to know what it was like living on board ship, how scientists dealt with the cold, why we did not have general communication back home.
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of children expressing an interest in STEM related subjects, and the school is raising the profile of science.

Furthermore closer links have been established with the school to support them in other topics, and I have been asked to be the STEM ambassador for the school
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk at the Scottish International Marine Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An overview on the impact of microplastics in the Marine Environment and the potential impact/contribution Scotland is having/making towards microplastics reaching the Arctic.
Discussion afterwards was on how to reduce microplastics, talked with industry about the impact of clothing and the weave/dyeing etc of the fabrics. Other discussions on what individuals can do to reduce their impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.marineconference2019.scot/
 
Description VOX Media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Working with video journalists to create short engagement films resulting in a series of three films which were published on VOX media and currently have a combined audience in excess of 1.1 million
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msD4agiRTxM