The Arctic ABC programme will design innovative autonomous drifting observatories to be deployed in Arctic ice covered waters. The infrastructure is based on cutting edge sensor technology, and the autonomous drift stations will provide unprecedented opportunities to conduct genuine scientific exploration supported by modern data acquisition methods in arguably the least known realm of the planet – the Arctic Ocean during the polar night and winter. The Arctic ABC programme is currently based on four funded projects. Two from the Norwegian Research Council and two from Tromsø Forskningsstiftelse (TFS): The Arctic ABC research project (project number 244319) and the Arctic ABC Development national infrastructure project (project number 245923) are funded by the Norwegian Research Council, the Arctic ABC Fjord and Arctic ABC East projects are funded by TFS.
Collecting information over long time in remote places like the Arctic Ocean is a logistically complex and resource demanding activity. Satellites and electronic systems that work autonomously, i.e. without the need for constant human supervision, simplify research in this area that is logistically complex to access. They reduce the need for people to be present at the site and they are capable of gathering more information in a given time than what can be achieved during a brief ship-based field expedition. In this project, off-the-shelf electronic equipment is used to implement stand-alone sensors to address specific questions.
The environmental details that our autonomous instrumentation reveal will be complemented by solid in situ validation samples and experiments. The biology campaigns of the project focus around three primary research themes: 1. How do pelagic (water column) species perceive light, in particular during the long dark season? 2. How, when and where do pelagic species conduct vertical migrations in a highly seasonal Arctic, especially during the dark season? 3. Who is present and active under sea ice, in the winter, and what do they feed on?
Knowledge extracted from these campaigns is important to develop and improve model representation of Arctic processes. In Arctic ABC we will use models to test sympagic and pelagic life-history concepts. We will also use models to explore and project responses of Arctic ecosystems to climate change and ice cover reduction, in particular. Results from the modelling will be analysed in a geopolitical perspective where the interests of states as well as potential gaps in legal regimes for resource utilization will be addressed.
Arctic Ocean ecosystems: applied technology, biological interactions and Consequences in an era of abrupt climate change (Arctic ABC) is a modern, multi and interdisciplinary research activity.