Paleo-oceanographic reconstructions of environmental change during the past centuries in contrasting northern Barents Sea environments
The MSc project will be part of the comprehensive research project The Nansen Legacy (http://nansenlegacy.org) which is the Norwegian Arctic research community’s joint effort to establish an understanding of a changing marine Arctic climate and ecosystem. The project will provide a scientific knowledge base needed for future sustainable resource management in the transitional Barents Sea and the adjacent Arctic Basin.
The Barents Sea is characterized by competing influences between cold Arctic Water, and warm Atlantic Water.
The MSc study will focus on the analyses of sediment cores from two seafloor sites representing contrasting environmental conditions in the northern Barents Sea; one exposed to the Arctic- and one exposed to Atlantic Water. Knowledge about these northern regions, and how their biogeochemical systems are changing remains limited. Hence, the MSc research will include interdisciplinary studies of arctic marine physical, chemical, biological, and paleoecological oceanography to investigate possible changes in the northern Barents Sea during the past centuries.
This also includes analyses of how physical and chemical characteristics of the substrate and water masses may impact benthic foraminiferal community structure, possible migration patterns and abundance change of species in relation to the overall retreating sea-ice. This will shed light on the steadily diminishing sea-ice cover, the prolongation of the productive season and increased autumn blooms.
The main aim of the study will be to trace possible changes in the position of the ice edge. Geochemical parameters (e.g., orgC, TN, stable C- and O-isotopes) as well as living and fossil benthic foraminifera in dated sediment cores, plus sediment accumulation rates of sediments deposited during the past few hundred years, will be analysed. During the last decade, boreal organisms have been expanding northward in the Barents Sea and elsewhere in the Arctic Ocean, while Arctic species have been pushed northwards and potentially out of their suitable habitats. Consequently, an additional aim will be to investigate if any of the living foraminiferal assemblages include recently immigrated species.
The sediment cores to be used in the MSc-study are already available but the student will get the possibility to join one or more other cruise(s) in southern Norwegian fjords. The student will also get the possibility to be part of the larger Nansen Legacy team.