[NWFSC] Berge on "Climate, Arctic Ecosystems and a Black Box"

Start Date/Time: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 11:00 AM
Location: Northwest Fisheries Science Center Auditorium: 2725 Montlake Blvd. E., Seattle.

Speaker: Dr. Jørgen Berge, Professor, Institute for Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø.

Please visit the Monster Seminar JAM web page for additional information about the Series, as well as upcoming installments. The NWFSC Monster Seminar JAM is part of the OneNOAA Science Discussion Seminar Series and is open to all who wish to attend.

Institute for Arctic and Marine Biology
University of Tromsø

ABSTRACT: During the last years several reports have emerged concerning the extent of the Arctic summer sea ice, documenting that we are now facing a historical and dramatic decline in the total abundance of sea ice in the Arctic. Based on current trends, recent studies predict that the Arctic Ocean will have ice-free summers within the next 30 years. A reduction and potential disappearance of Arctic sea ice in the summer does pose opportunities for e.g. shipping and the petroleum industry, opening up for increased human activities in the Arctic. Naturally, it also poses a direct and indirect challenge for the ecosystem, not least the ice-associated crustaceans generally considered to spend their entire life on the underside of the Arctic sea ice. However, our understanding of the Arctic is limited by an almost complete absence of knowledge during the polar night. A classical paradigm in Arctic marine ecology suggests that most biological processes stop during this time at high latitudes due to low food availability and the lack of light (Smetacek 2005, Piepenburg 2005). Over the last few years, new research has challenged this assumption by presenting evidence of e.g. diel vertical migration (DVM) of zooplankton (Berge et al 2009), bioluminescence levels indicative of biotic activity hitherto assumed to be absent during the polar night (Berge et al 2011), and overwintering seabirds observed actively foraging during the total darkness (Berge et al 2011). Also, based upon unique samples collected within the Arctic Ocean during the polar night, a new conceptual understanding of an intimate connection between these under-ice crustaceans and the deep Arctic Ocean currents was recently published (Berge et al 2012). Winter ecology of Arctic marine systems, then, is a largely new field of science with the potential for radically altering our fundamental perception of basic Arctic ecosystems processes, current state of the ecosystem and connections between the biosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere within the Polar Region.

Professor Jørgen Berge took his PhD in Tromsø in 2000 on the taxonomy and biosystematics of amphipod crustaceans, but has for ten years been working and living on Svalbard. Since late 2012, has moved back to Tromsø and is now a professor at the Faculty for Bioscience, Fisheries and Economics (University of Tromsø). During the last ten years, most of his research has been aimed at understanding the connections between a changing climate and Arctic food ecosystems. He has published more than 70 international refereed papers on physiological, life-history, and behavioural adaptation of Arctic fauna, and their consequences for system functioning. He has led large research programmes and consortiums, including one of the official Norwegian International Polar Year initiatives.