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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The ATLAR project is divided in four sub-projects, each covered by one PhD candidate

  • Arctic oceanography/ocean observatory technology
  • Remote sensing
  • Arctic marine biology/technology
  • Technology and Law of the Sea

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Knut Ola Dølven

PhD candidate
Department of Geosciences

Project title: Long term monitoring of methane seepage and associated oceanic settings on Arctic shelf seas and continental margins

Project description:

The Arctic Ocean is an area subjected to rapid changes both in sea ice cover and in the properties of the water masses of the ocean itself. Additionally the decrease in sea ice cover increases the potential for resource exploitation and shipping, pointing towards new challenges in a broad spectrum of research fields in the Arctic region, from politics, law, geosciences, and climate research. Arctic Ocean Technology and Law of the Sea Research (ATLAR) will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to assess several of the challenges that arise for an Arctic Ocean in rapid transition.  From an oceanographical and environmental point of view, this region is a place of many unknowns, partly due to the scarce amount of data available.

My contribution to the ATLAR project will be on behalf of the Centre of Arctic Gas hydrates, Environment and climate (CAGE). The overreaching goal of CAGE is to get a better understanding of greenhouse gas release processes in Arctic environments. In the Arctic ocean, large amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane exists in the seabed, both as free gas and as methane hydrates – a crystalline structure composed of water and methane that forms at low temperatures and high pressure. It has been of growing concern that the warming of the Arctic Ocean can destabilize the methane hydrates and cause extensive release of methane, which can cause ocean acidification and contribute to further climate warming. The methane hydrates may also act as a caprock, preventing the escape of free methane gas residing further down in the sediments (Ferre et al., 2012). The West Spitsbergen continental margin contains large amounts of both free methane gas and methane hydrates (Berndt et al., 2014) and is an area of prominent methane seepage (Gentz et al. 2014). This area has also shown a significant warming the last decades, both in the ocean and in the atmosphere, mainly due to changes in the pathways of synoptic scale weather systems and heat contribution from the West Spitsbergen Current (e.g. Nilsen et al. 2016). The combination of rapid changes in the ocean climate and the presence of large methane reservoirs and/or methane hydrates in the seabed motivates further research to understand the underlying physical processes of this system and map out possible consequences of methane release from the sediments to the ocean in the oceanic region of West Spitsbergen and adjacent shelf seas. The release of methane from gas hydrates and/or reservoirs of methane in gas phase to the ocean is a coupled system where one domain affects the other and vice-versa, therefore a multidisciplinary approach is crucial.

The number of oceanographical investigations on methane release to the ocean in this region is relatively sparse and are mainly based on snap-shot based data sets. This approach has numerous weaknesses, due to the fact that the release of methane from the seabed appears to have significant temporal variations and appears to be sporadic and/or periodic, at best. In this project we will therefore utilize data from stationary ocean observatories (“K-landers”) that measures throughout the whole annual cycle. This makes it possible to put the release of methane from the seabed to the ocean in a new perspective, as we will be able to describe the temporal variations of methane release in a significantly more detailed and precise way than what have been done in the past. This PhD-project aims to give answers to some of the questions that arise within this field of research in this area based mainly on long-term oceanographical data from two ocean observatories – the “K-landers”, developed in collaboration with Kongsberg Maritime and deployed offshore Svalbard.

The K-Lander ocean observatory used to obtain long term time series from seep sites offshore West Spitsbergen.

Main supervisor:

Benedicte Ferré[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”Remote sensing” title_align=”separator_align_left”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”40″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

Katalin Blix

PhD candidate
Department of Physics and Technology

Project title: Ocean colour monitoring

Project description:

The project aims to develop a methodology for accurate monitoring the biological and physical changes due to the warming of the Arctic oceans in space and time. Since oceanic primary production can only be observed in the visible spectrum the main focus is to monitor ocean color in the MIZ by optical imaging sensors. Therefore the result of the project will be the introduction of algorithms which are designed for monitoring ocean color in the Arctic from optical imaging satellite data. Furthermore, understanding the relationship between sea ice concentration and Chl-a content might allow the estimation of ocean color from SAR sea ice estimates for weather conditions when data from optical imaging sensors are not available.
The PhD-candidate will have a close collaboration with other disciplines
within the ATLAR-project and with the CIRFA-research group.

Main supervisor:

Professor Torbjørn Eltoft

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Bernhard Schartmüller

PhD candidate
Department of Arctic and Marine Biology

Project title: Underwater hyperspectral imaging: Methods for identification, monitoring and mapping of light regime and biogeochemical objects in polar regions.

Project description:

The project focuses on the development of methods for the use of an Underwater Hyperspectral imaging sensor for measuring the light regime under sea-ice. In addition, methods are developed for the identification, mapping and monitoring of sea-ice fauna and algae communities. These methods have the potential of providing new knowledge about Arctic Marine Ecosystems.

Main supervisor:

Professor Jørgen Berge[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”Technology and Law of the Sea” title_align=”separator_align_left”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”48″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

Hilde Woker

PhD candidate
Faculty of Law

Project title: The Role of Science in the Law of the Sea

Project description:

The law of the sea, with the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as its main component, is destined to be troubled by interactions between law, science and technology. It is, after all, a legal convention regulating the physical and technical use of the oceans and their resources. In her PhD project, Hilde researches the role of science within the Law of the Sea. She aims to investigate the interactions and relationships between these bodies of knowledge, identify the limitations of these interactions, as well as illustrate possible room for improvement. By looking at the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea and the existing case law, her thesis shall first of all adopt a legal doctrinal approach to provide a systematization and categorization of the role of science within this field of law. Secondly, she aims to establish an evaluative framework to assess to what extent the role of science in the law of the sea should be improved.

Main supervisor:

Professor Tore Henriksen (UiT) and Nigel Bankes (UCalgary)