The scientific focus of Arctic SIZE
Nowhere is global climate change greater than in the ice-covered waters of the High North with climate feedbacks impacting human living conditions of the entire northern hemisphere. The Arctic Seasonal Ice Zone (SIZ), arguably the region in which the direct effects are at its strongest, is the main focus of the group. In order to promote ecosystem understanding of the SIZ, the group has a distinct pan-Arctic research strategy. Also, the group scores very high in supplementary sectors of priority such as international cooperation, research-based education and communication to the public. They are working on a large variety of organisms, spanning from bacteria and plankton up to benthic animals, fish and sea birds in ice-covered waters. The main ambition of the group is to provide the best knowledge and the most comprehensive understanding of the SIZ in the northern Barents Sea, Svalbard and the adjacent deep Polar Ocean, thus supporting the aspiration of UiT to become a world leader for the Arctic region.
The group converges on the function of marine Arctic ecosystems, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling. The world is turning its attention towards the High North where Norway, and in particular UiT, has key interests to pursue our central role within research, education and ecosafe resource development. The hitherto ice-covered Arctic Ocean rapidly develops into a periodically ice-free “new” ocean where the circumpolar SIZ belt, today associated to the shelves, spreads out over the expanse the Arctic Ocean core region. This unprecedented ecological scenario has to be sustainably managed in light of biological resources, oil/gas development, tourism and shipping. Norway’s knowledge-based resource management prevents economic activity until the ecological knowledge base is provided. Its position in the High North suggests that UiT has a particular responsibility to provide a base for sustainable development (e.g. fisheries, bioprospecting) and technological solutions in ice-covered regions (e.g. SIOS, ArcticABC) in the “new Arctic Ocean”. Thanks to the group’s international dedication it is involved in a suite of projects around the Arctic Ocean perimeter.