Long term monitoring of Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden

Rationale: The Arctic Ocean once believed to be remote as well as pristine is now one of the fastest warming regions and the pace/magnitude of environmental change is greater in the Arctic than at any other location on Earth. Moreover, the ocean and sea ice in the Arctic are a crucial part of the global climate machinery, influencing atmospheric and oceanographic processes, and biogeochemical cycles beyond the Arctic region. Over the last several decades there have been numerous scientific programmes mounted in the Arctic. Nevertheless, there still exist critical knowledge gaps that need to be addressed on priority considering the fast pace of events that happen far north. The Arctic fjords, are vital systems in the Arctic hydrographical network and serve as pulse points to measure the cause and effect of environmental change, may it be fuelled by local disturbances or global processes. Considering the imperative need to monitor the fjords, Indian researchers have been conducting systematic measurements with respect to the hydrography of Kongsfjorden, an Arctic fjord since 2011. The Kongsfjorden located on the west coast of Svalbard that is directly influenced by intrusion of waters from the Arctic and Atlantic along with glacial melt. Preliminary assessment of hydrographical data suggests that monitoring should be continued with higher temporal resolution. A comprehensive science plan has been prepared with identified long-term and short-term objectives that would yield a better understanding of the dynamics and functioning of the Arctic fjords with regional and global perspectives.


Long term objectives:

  1. The variability in the Arctic/Atlantic climate signal by understanding the interaction between the freshwater from the glacial run-off and Atlantic water from the west Spitsbergen current.
  2. Climate influenced variability in the food web structure and carbon dynamics.
  3. Climate modulated variability in the transport and fate of pollutants.
  4.  Arctic fjords as high sensitive indicator to environmental health.

Short term objectives:

  1. High frequency fjord-atmospheric interactions and their impacts
  2. Triggering mechanism for phytoplankton blooms, carbon sequestration and mineralization.
  3. Seasonal perspectives in food web structure.
  4. Elemental biogeochemical cycles and processes.
  5. Threshold limits of environmentally sensitive chemical moieties.
  6. Functional taxonomic diversity of microbes