This project is part of NERC’s Changing Arctic Ocean Research Program and will, from 2017 to 2021 with a total budget of ~£2.1M, investigate how biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems at the Arctic Ocean seafloor are affected by changes in sea ice cover and water mass distribution. The main working area of ChAOS is the Barents Sea east of Svalbard, and sampling locations across a sea ice and water mass gradient will be visited during three expeditions with the ice-strengthened RRS James Clark Ross (summers of 2017, 2018, and 2019).
The Leeds team consists of Christian März (ChAOS PI), Johan Faust (ChAOS Postdoc), Allyson Tessin (Marie Curie Research Fellow) and Katherine Doyle (PhD student, field assistant in 2018). But the highly interdisciplinary project overall includes 26 scientists at eight UK research institutions – biologists, geochemists, modellers ranging from PhD students to Professors – as well as international collaborators especially in Canada and Norway.
Besides the critical fieldwork component that involves sampling the seafloor with various coring devices, cameras, nets and water samplers, the project will also set up incubation experiments to expose key benthic species to conditions that the Arctic seafloor might experience in the future. And, of course, all samples will be analysed using a range of cutting-edge analytical equipment at the participating institutions. All the gathered data will ultimately be fed into a reaction-transport model that may, at some point, allow the prediction of changes at the Arctic seafloor in response to future environmental changes.