WP5 Ecosystem processes: changing climate and biological interactions including fisheries

Personnel: Øystein Varpe (UiB), Lars H. Smedsrud (UiB), Torkel Gissel Nielsen (DTU), PhD.

Coastal ecosystems in Greenland are impacted by both the ice-covered land and the ocean. Complex and variable ecosystems emerge, and studies of environmental change must account for both the land and the ocean perspective. The studies of marine ecology will focus on the seasonality of the pelagic ecosystem and ecological interactions in Disko Bay. Our main objective is to provide a better understanding of how the changing physical conditions of the Disko Bay ice-ocean system impact key biological processes in the pelagic. We will use zooplankton as our main study group but also include studies of primary production and fish. At the zooplankton level, species composition, seasonality in abundance, and the timing of key life cycle events will be studied. We aim to disentangle the roles of land-based processes, such as glacier melt, and ocean-based processes such as sea ice cover and water mass advection, on the ecological dynamics in the bay. The seasonality of these drivers and the biological interactions of the pelagic ecosystem will be given much attention. We will analyze existing data and supplement that with field work to collect additional samples (zooplankton sampling primarily). Lab experiments and ecological modelling may also form parts of our approach. The field work will be integrated with an ongoing monitoring program. We will carry out new observations in cooperation with WP3 of Atlantic water properties that probably regulates sea-ice formation during winter and melting driven upwelling of ice bergs and marine terminating glaciers in the fjord. Our aim is to work in cooperation with local hunters and fishermen that have very relevant knowledge about changes in the ecosystem, sea ice and ice-berg dynamics.

Ammassat (Capelin, Lodde) are a highly popular food in Greenland and are easily caught during summertime when they approach the coast to spawn (Photo: K. H. Nisancioglu).