The primary aim of this expedition was to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution, the ecology and physiology, as well as competition of co-occurring gadoid species (Atlantic cod, Polar cod, haddock) in the communities of Arctic and Atlantic influence around Svalbard. We sampled the benthic and pelagic communities (including plankton) on the shallow shelf regions of Svalbard to estimate the effects of climate change on Arctic ecosystems to obtain a picture of the entire system structure and function for a long-term monitoring program of the ‘Atlantification’ of the Svalbard region. We assessed the potential impact of changes in trophic interaction (predator-prey relations) of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Polar cod (Boreogadus saida), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) and decapod crabs on the productivity and stability of benthic and pelagic communities in Arctic ecosystems, into which their distribution ranges now extend due to ocean warming. In addition to a stock assessment and distribution analysis of gadoid fish and decapod crabs, we aimed to obtain specimens of these species in the Atlantic and polar waters around Svalbard, which were transported alive back to Germany. Laboratory experiments under scenarios of climate change at the Alfred Wegener Institute then provided (and still provide) further insight into capacities for adaptation, performance and interaction of selected species of the Arctic ecosystem around Svalbard. The results will on the one hand be used in an international Norwegian-German project and the pan-Arctic data management system (Piepenburg et al. 2011), on the other hand they will flow into fisheries modelling at the University of Hamburg, the Thuenen Institute and socio-economic modelling approaches that build on the German ocean acidification project BIOACID (www.bioacid.de).
Science communication is becoming increasingly important to connect academia and society, and to counteract fake news among climate change deniers. Online video platforms, such as YouTube, offer great potential for low-threshold communication of scientific knowledge to the general public. In April 2020 a diverse group of researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research launched the YouTube channel "Wissenschaft fürs Wohnzimmer" (translated to "Sitting Room Science") to stream scientific talks about climate change and biodiversity every Thursday evening. Here we report on the numbers and diversity of content, viewers, and presenters from 2 years and 100 episodes of weekly livestreams. Presented topics encompass all areas of polar research, social issues related to climate change, and new technologies to deal with the changing world and climate ahead. We show that constant engagement by a group of co-hosts, and presenters from all topics, career stages, and genders enable a continuous growth of views and subscriptions, i.e. impact. After 783 days the channel gained 30,251 views and 828 subscribers and hosted well-known scientists while enabling especially early career researchers to improve their outreach and media skills. We show that interactive and science-related videos, both live and on-demand, within a pleasant atmosphere, can be produced voluntarily while maintaining high quality. We further discuss challenges and possible improvements for the future. Our experiences may help other researchers to conduct meaningful scientific outreach and to push borders of existing formats with the overall aim of developing a better understanding of climate change and our planet.
Changes in Arctic sea ice thickness are the result of complex interactions of the dynamic and variable ice cover with atmosphere and ocean. The availability of satellite-based estimates of Arctic-wide sea ice thickness changes is limited to the winter months. However, in light of recent model predictions of a nearly ice-free Arctic in summer and to understand the role of sea ice for the causes and consequences of a warming climate, long-term and large-scale sea ice thickness and surface observations during the melt season are more important than ever. The AWI airborne sea ice survey program ‘IceBird Summer’ aims to close this gap by conducting regular measurements over sea ice in summer in key regions of the Arctic Ocean. The survey program comprises and continues all airborne ice thickness measurements obtained since 2001 in the central Arctic, Fram Strait and the last ice area. The objective is to ensure the long-term availability of a unique data record of direct sea ice thickness and surface state observations (deliverable of AWI research program POFIV, Topic 2.1: Warming Climates). Sea ice thickness measurements are obtained with a tethered electromagnetic sensor, the AEM-Bird. Jointly with the ice thickness measurements, optical and laser systems are operated to derive sea ice surface models and melt pond distribution.