The GRC on Polar Marine Science "Understanding Polar Ecosystem Change Through Time Series Observations, Technological Advances, and Biophysical Coupled Modeling" 

When: 25-26 March 2017 I Where: Ventura, CA, USA | Contact: Jacqueline M. Grebmeier

In both the Antarctic and Arctic, ecosystem variables such as sea ice dynamics, atmospheric and ocean exchange, biogeochemical cycles, food web dynamics, and sediment proxies have in the past and are currently responding to climate and environmental change. How the ecosystem is responding to ongoing stressors in the marine environment and devising appropriate modeling approaches to predict future change are important foci for polar science.

The 2017 GRC on Polar Marine Science "Understanding Polar Ecosystem Change Through Time Series Observations, Technological Advances, and Biophysical Coupled Modeling" brought together leading investigators in Antarctic and Arctic marine research. Using a tradition of excellence facilitated by the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), participants presented and discussed cutting edge interdisciplinary polar science observations, technological advancements and biophysical modeling activities associated with polar time series studies. Thus, the format of the GRC inspires scientists from different disciplines to synthesize new ideas and to brainstorm about the ongoing status and change in the polar oceans.

For more information see the 2017 GRC website

Workshop Report


International cooperation in biogeochemical studies in the Siberian Shelves Seas

When: 27-28 January 2016 I Where: Kiel, Germany

The workshop was held in order to bring together specialists working from widely different perspectives on biogeochemical studies in the Siberian shelf seas. The goals were to coordinate future efforts in preparation of expeditions to the Siberian shelf seas, to explore possibilities of cooperation in future studies by exchange of data and samples, and to develop a plan for engagement of young scientists.

The workshop was hosted by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel,
Germany, on January 27 and 28, 2016, and organized by the "Secretariat Laptev Sea
System", following the conference of the Russian-German project "The Transpolar System of the Arctic Ocean". In the workshop, 31 scientists and 6 early career scientists from 10 countries participated (see Appendix, list of participants).

The program included (i) plenary talks about ongoing programs with objectives, institutions and scientists involved, expeditions, field methods, and major results, (ii) cruise plans, wishes and dreams, (iii) fields of synergy and overarching themes, (iv) gaps in knowledge, and (v) new opportunities for cooperation in trace element research with Russia.

Michiel Rutgers van der Loeff

Heidemarie Kassens

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed observations of Upper Halocline distribution along the continental margin made from the international, multidisciplinary investigation of climate-cryosphere carbon interaction in the eastern Siberian Arctic Ocean, Swedish-Russian-US Research Cooperation (SWERUS).

• Difference in oceanographic and biological responses to dramatic loss in Arctic sea ice observed in the Pacific Arctic region via Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC’s hydrographic and biogeochemical surveys was discussed.  

• Discussed the investigations of physical, chemical and biological processes and fluxes that control the distributions of key trace elements and isotopes (TEIs) in the Arctic Ocean carried out by GEOTRACES.


5th Polar Marine Diatom Workshop

When: 19-24 July 2015 I Where: Salmanca, Spain

The Polar Marine Diatom Workshops (PMDW) were born from the need for a forum that would incite exchange of taxonomic skills and associated new techniques as well as providing an excellent training ground for students to receive guidance from experienced diatomists. Since 2005, the workshop has become a successful biannual event, bringing polar diatomists together for exchange of new ideas, sharing of recent results/data and fostering future collaborations enabling researchers from around the world to produce quality science. The 5th Polar Marine Diatom Workshop was held on July 19-24, in Salmanca, Spain. This workshop featured microscope sessions with equal emphasis on Neogene and Quaternary as in the past, but a special emphasis was devoted to Holocene Climatic optimum and the degalciation, addressing biostratigraphic, taxonomic, paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic issues. A special session was dedicated to the shadow's diatoms, those that live at the lower photic zone and are a good indicator of water column stratification (Rhizosolenia spp.)
Overall, the workshop succeed in achieving the following aims: 1) in transferring sound taxonomic skills and exchange knowledge relative to modern and fossil diatom records of polar regions, 2) in engaging the international marine phytoplankton and paleontological communities and raise the research profile and opportunity for on-going training of students and researchers and 3) in bringing about opportunities for a project development and student exchange between laboratories focusing on recent developments or on-going enigma in the field.

María Angeles Bárcena


Scientific Highlights

• Discussed the development of more complete biostratigraphic proxies and of robust proxies for paleoceanography.

• Discussed evolution of sea-ice communities and sea-ice extent and timing of climatic events in Polar Regions.

• Discussed the building of biogeochemical coupled ocean-atmospheric dynamic models that aim to include species ecology, abundance and biomass data.

ESSAS Annual Science Meeting (ASM) Symposium, “The Role of Ice in the Sea”

When: June 15-17 2015 I Where: Washington, USA

The 2015 ESSAS Annual Science Meeting (ASM) Symposium was co-hosted by the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the University of Washington, held in the Sea Fishery Sciences Building, University of Washington from June 15-17, 2015. As the meeting’s chief topic was “the Role of Ice in the Sea,” four themes were explored during the Symposium: Humans, Ice and the Sea in the Subarctic and Arctic Past, the Role of Sea Ice in the Arctic and Subarctic, the Ecological Role of Tidewater Glaciers, and Social Scientific Investigations of Changing Sea Ice Conditions.
The “Humans, Ice and the Sea in the Subarctic and Arctic Past” session provided a historical framework for the consideration of contemporary ecological dynamics surrounding subarctic and arctic ice and marine ecology including human integration in the evolution of these systems. The largest session, “The Role of Sea Ice in the Arctic and Subarctic,” focused on the multiple roles of sea ice in the Arctic and the Sub-Arctic seas, including its effects on the physical and biological structure of these regions, which shapes their food webs from plankton to fish, birds, and mammals. The extent and nature of sea ice in the Arctic has been rapidly changing, affecting air-ice-sea fluxes with both regional and global consequences. “The Ecological Role of Tidewater Glaciers” session explored the role of tidewater glaciers in marine ecosystems, including the fjords of Alaska, Greenland, and Svalbard. The “Social Scientific Investigations of Changing Sea Ice Conditions” session promoted interaction among social scientists and also provided insights to natural scientists on how their research can best contribute to a better understanding of the importance of sea ice dynamics for resource users and communities in a wider social and economic context.

Franz Mueter


Scientific Highlights

• Presentations explored the use of marine sediment records to elucidate large-scale changes in ocean temperature, sea ice cover, and ocean productivity since the last glacial, including its impacts on the migrations and settlement patterns of early people as inferred from archaeological evidence.

• Sea ice influences biogeochemical processes including the flux of CO2 into the ocean, leading to increasing acidification. Ice algae make up a significant portion of the primary production, especially in the high Arctic, where changes in the extent of first year versus multi-year ice may be altering their role. Changes in the timing of the melting of the sea ice also influence when ice algae become available to zooplankton in spring.

• The existence of sea ice impacts commercial, recreational, and subsistence harvesters through numerous avenues. The nature of the marine food web is significantly impacted by sea ice, so that future declines in sea ice may change the resources available to different communities, potentially altering the mix, spatial distribution, and abundance of species present.

• The ways fishers and hunters respond to changes may influence the species they pursue and the ecosystem as a whole. In addition, those responses will affect and be affected by a range of social and economic factors, likely creating a complex webs of interactions rather than simple and predictable responses to changes in sea ice.

MWG Workshop “Atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions and aspects related to a future, seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean”” at the ICARP III Conference

When: 23-30 April 2015 I Where: Toyama, Japan

“Atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions and aspects related to a future, seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean” was a session featured in the Fourth International Symposium on Arctic Research (ISAR-4) and the Third International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III) during the 2015 Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) in Toyama Japan, from April 28-29.  
The first sub-session addressed the energy exchange between the Arctic and lower latitudes, the different energy budgets in the Arctic as well as the effects of aerosols in an Arctic with reduced ice cover. The second sub-session was devoted to smaller scale observational studies of heat exchange between ice, ocean and atmosphere in the marginal ice zone and in the high Arctic, using aircraft, autonomous gliders and icebreakers. The third sub-session was mostly on atmospheric processes with three talks addressing respectively the creation, the characteristics and the climatology of Polar lows in the Nordic Seas and in the Japan Sea.  
The next sub-session addressed the freshwater balance and the stratification of the Arctic Ocean, the transfer of freshwater between solid and liquid phase, and how it varies seasonally and over longer periods. The final sub-session presented studies on the effects of different forcing, wind or buoyancy, on Arctic Ocean circulation.

Bert Rudels

Scientific Highlights

• The possible effects of increased aerosol release connected with a reduced ice cover on the radiative forcing were discussed and found to be smaller than expected due to increased liquid precipitation.

• The atmospheric boundary layer over leads around Svalbard, in Storfjorden as well as north of Svalbard was investigated by aircraft and a study of ocean variability in the marginal ice zone in the western Arctic using gliders was reported.

• The circulation and the effects of the Atlantic water on the hydrography of the Arctic Ocean were described, concentrating on eddies in the Arctic Ocean and their importance for the large-scale circulation, an example of which is how the halocline can be maintained.


Big Black Box

When: 18-23 January 2015 I Where: Tromsø, Norway

Arctic marine environments may experience darkness for up to ten months a year depending on sea ice cover and snow depth. The extended period of darkness, known as the polar night, may limit organism survival and reproductive success because of the associated food limitation. A long overwintering period and a brief growing season are likely the main barriers for “temperate/lower latitude” species to sustain populations in the Arctic because they lack the life history adaptations of high-Arctic species that allow them to cope with such extreme conditions. However, our knowledge on winter ecology is extremely poor in comparison to ecological processes during the growing season. Gathering additional information on polar night ecology and processes is crucial, especially in light of expected impacts of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems. This three-day workshop will convene an international group of experts to develop a white paper on the existing winter ecology knowledge of Arctic marine organisms, to identify the most critical knowledge gaps, and to prepare a proposal for a new international initiative/program focusing on polar night ecology and winter processes.

Janne E. Søreide

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed species active during winter: small zooplankton size fractions (e.g. Oithona, Microcalanus spp., Pseudocalanus spp.), which need to be studied in greater detail as information on them is limited year-round, copepods, which actively feed and reproduce in January-February in Kongsfjorden (high numbers of nauplii found mid-winter) but at a lower level than during spring and Calanus, which ascends already in November in Svalbard fjords and are active before the primary production starts.

• Discussed recent polar night studies on zooplankton ecology (see e.g. (Daase et al. 2014; Webster et al. 2015) which demonstrated that marine zooplankton are not necessarily quiescent during the polar night.

• Discussed the need for studies of polar-night physiology and energy use combined with knowledge of behaviour and life cycle strategies as this will improve understanding of the trade-offs inherent in the annual routines of polar zooplankton as well as the role of the polar night in shaping the schedule of activities also at other times of the year.

• Agreed that the boundary layers sea ice - sea water, and sea water – sea floor, as well as any stratification of the water column would potentially be places for food/organisms to concentrate in winter.