Synoptic Arctic Survey community meeting

A Synoptic Arctic Survey community meeting was held on March 31st, in conjunction with the Arctic Science Summit Week in Tromsø. This was a hybrid meeting, with altogether approximately 40 scientists, program managers and early career scientists attending. Everyone thought it was really nice to meet and interact in person again, after two years with only virtual meetings.

The SAS has evolved into a massive effort with a lot of cruises conducted in 2020 and 2021, and some planned for 2022. Partners from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the USA presented past and future cruises. We were in particular impressed by the unique data collected on the German/Russian/Swiss “Arctic Century expedition” to the Barents and Laptev Seas, and troubled by the challenges that this important collaboration is facing in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

We further discussed how to proceed with the synthesis phase that the Synoptic Arctic Survey is now entering. Data sharing and authors for the different papers are issues that need to be resolved in the coming year. We ended the day by enjoying freshly caught cod – or skrei – from the Lofoten area.

The report from the meeting is available here and most of the presentations are available below:

Nansen Legacy Arctic Basin Cruise

As a Norwegian contribution to this year’s (2021) Synoptic Arctic Survey, the Arctic Basin cruise extended the sampling transect of Nansen Legacy project from the northern Barents Sea shelf and slope into the deep central Arctic Ocean. Using the Norwegian research icebreaker ‘Kronprins Haakon’, the team was able to investigate the Nansen and Amundsen Basin as well as the Gakkel Ridge separating the two basins during a five-week long expedition.

The Nansen Legacy Arctic Basin cruise covered a transect of 2330 km extending from the Nansen Basin NE of the Svalbard slope in the south to the northern part of the Amundsen Basin just south of the Lomonosov Ridge in the north. The geographic bounding box spanned 81.46-87.51°N and 31.34°E-21.53°W and covered a depth range of ca. 2800-4800 m, with sampling covering 2817-4290 m.
The Nansen Legacy Arctic Basin cruise covered a transect of 2330 km extending from the Nansen Basin NE of the Svalbard slope in the south to the northern part of the Amundsen Basin just south of the Lomonosov Ridge in the north. The geographic bounding box spanned 81.46-87.51°N and 31.34°E-21.53°W and covered a depth range of ca. 2800-4800 m, with sampling covering 2817-4290 m.

The scientific team on board was highly interdisciplinary, consisting of 34 participants including physical and chemical oceanographers, ice physicists, ecotoxicologists and biologists as well as safety and helicopter teams. About half of the science team consisted of early career researchers. Chief scientists were Agneta Fransson, Norwegian Polar Institute, and Bodil Bluhm, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

Sampling efforts focused on sea ice and upper ocean work as well as connectivity to the mid and deep water column and underlying sediments. In addition, the role of transport of elements and organisms from the Siberian shelves through the Transpolar Drift was investigated. Indications of water masses with chemical signatures of the Transpolar Drift were encountered at the northernmost station at 87.5˚N and 17˚W.

The Nansen Legacy Arctic Basin Cruise took place at roughly the same time (Aug-Sep 2021) as the Swedish icebreaker ‘Oden’ was on its SAS expedition in the nearby region between Northeast Greenland and the North Pole.

Written by Lena Seuthe, Scientific advisor Nansen Legacy

Arctic Century Expedition – One month in the Russian Arctic on board the research icebreaker Akademik Tryoshnikov

An international team of scientists has spent a month on board the Russian research icebreaker, the Akademik Tryoshnikov, studying climate change impacts in the Arctic. From the atmosphere to the High Arctic islands, down the water column to the depths of the ocean, researchers are investigating the ecosystems and biodiversity of the region, and the role they play in our global cycles. Physical and chemical measurements of the atmosphere and the ocean seek to document their interactions with sea ice and to improve forecasts of the changing Arctic environment.

High-resolution ice and sediment cores, that we collect, will allow us understand the history of the ice caps, past climate variability and better understand our future. From the distant past to the present day, litter found at sea and on the beaches of these remote islands paints a picture of the current impact we have on our planet.

The research vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov at Cape Baranov (Severnaya Semlya), ©Swiss Polar Institute

This multidisciplinary expedition to the Kara and Laptev Seas, including the archipelagos of Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya, marks the celebration of one hundred years of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

The Arctic Century Expedition brought together 29 scientists and 30 early career researchers from 13 countries, to bring new light to these internationally rarely-visited hotspots for climate studies in the Arctic. The expedition was organized jointly by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg, the Swiss Polar Institute and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany.

Point of contact: Dr. Heidemarie Kassens at GEOMAR

Open position: Project Manager for Synoptic Arctic Survey

At the Geophysical institute we have an open permanent position as Project Manager (Advisor) for the international secretariat of the Synoptic Arctic Survey, hosted by Norway and the UiB. The position is jointly funded by strategic allocations from the UiB and by the EU H2020 project ArcticPassion. The initial scope of the position may change with time, depending on future funding.

The CASSANDRA Oceanographic Cruise is imminent

Figure 1: R/V Laura Bassi.

The Italian contribution to SAS. The CASSANDRA (AdvanCing knowledge on the present Arctic Ocean by chemical-phySical, biogeochemical and biological obServAtioNs to predict the futuRe chAnges) project was recently approved as part of the Italian Arctic Research Program (PRA), and an Arctic oceanographic cruise is planned on board the R/V “Laura Bassi” (Figure 1).

The CASSANDRA oceanographic cruise will have 15 researchers on board and will depart from Longyearbyen (Svalbard Islands) on 29 August and arrive in Bergen (Norway) on 14 September 2021. The project is coordinated by the Italian Institute of Polar Sciences (ISP) and involves the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (INOGS) as a participant.

CASSANDRA project seeks to quantify the present state of the physical, chemical, biological and biogeochemical systems of a sub-Arctic historic transect at 75°N crossing the Greenland Sea Gyre (Figure 2). As part of the Synoptic Arctic Survey (SAS), CASSANDRA will operate with a multidisciplinary approach, making use of common protocols.

Figure 2: Working area and Transect (46 stations) across the Greenland Sea Gyre (from 75°N 16°E to 75°N 13°W).
Figure 2: Working area and Transect (46 stations) across the Greenland Sea Gyre (from 75°N 16°E to 75°N 13°W).

Emphasis of the project will be also devoted to understanding the major ongoing transformations on the water masses, the marine ecosystem and the carbon cycle. Other relevant measurements along the route of the vessel without interference with navigation will be made: upper layer currents by hull mounted ADCP, surface temperature and salinity by thermosalinograph, broadband shortwave and longwave radiation fluxes, automatic observation of cloudiness conditions, meteo parameters, and sampling activities of biological aerosol.

CASSANDRA will train young researchers and create opportunities to promote the next generation of polar researchers. We chose the name CASSANDRA because today the environmental message manages to permeate more and more, both in the social strata of the population and at the political level, and we would like to dispel your legend of unheard Prophetess.



NEW DATE: SAS April Webinar

April 22nd – Arctic Science Snapshots: Early Career Scientists, 16:00-17:30 (CEST)

In this SAS-webinar, Early Career Scientists (ECS) will present snapshots of their research in the Arctic. Short and concise presentations covering ongoing or planned studies of changes in physical oceanography, marine ecosystems as well as carbon cycle and ocean acidification.

Contribution from the participants in the SAS-Oden expedition July-September 2021:

Lennart Gerke (PhD-student, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research GEOMAR, Germany): Ventilation Timescales, Anthropogenic Carbon and Variability in the Arctic Ocean – Ventilation and anthropogenic carbon storage in the Arctic Ocean provided by transient tracer data. E-mail:

Yannis Arck (PhD-student, Heidelberg University, Germany): Ventilation Timescales, Anthropogenic Carbon and Variability in the Arctic Ocean – A combination of stable noble gas isotopes with Ar39 and C14 applied on arctic ocean ventilation and sea ice formation E-mail:

Claudia Morys (Postdoc, Stockholm University, Sweden): Driving factors for regional variation in benthic species communities in the Central Arctic Ocean. E-mail:

Flor Vermassen (Postdoc, Stockholm University, Sweden): Arctic invasions of sub-polar planktonic foraminifers in the past and present – The hunt for Turborotalita. E-mail:

Christien Laber (Postdoc, Linnaeus University, Sweden) Grazing and viral lysis of picophytoplankton in the Central Arctic Ocean. E-mail:

Ashish Verma (Postdoc, Umeå University, Sweden): Maintenance respiration and morphological adaptations of prokaryotes in the Central Arctic Ocean. E-mail:

Lisa Winberg von Friesen (PhD-student, University of Copenhagen, Denmark): An overlooked source of nitrogen? Diazotrophy in the Central Arctic Ocean. E-mail:

Birthe Zäncker (Postdoc, The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, UK): Production and export of phytoplankton-derived organic matter in the changing Arctic Ocean – Role of parasites, saprotrophs and mineral ballasting. E-mail:

Eun Yae Son (PhD-student, Graduate school of frontier science, The University of Tokyo, Japan): Turbulent mixing in the western Arctic from the Mirai cruises (tentative). E-mail:

SAS March Webinar



March 16th – Large-Scale Arctic Insights, 14:00 – 15:30 UTC (15:00 – 16:30 CET)

The Arctic Ocean is brimming with change. In SAS, we’re trying to approach and understand the totality of change and how it potentially connects the different compartments of the ocean. In this new March seminar we are extremely happy to present a diverse set of excellent speakers who will share recent insights on large scale Arctic oceanography, biology, and biogeochemistry in the spirit of the SAS. All are welcome to join. 

Mary-Louise Timmermans (Yale University): Ocean heat and freshwater dynamics and change in the Canadian Basin

Bodil Bluhm (University of Tromsø): Bio-physical coupling on the pan-Artic continental slope

Jens Terhaar (University of Bern): Around one third of current Arctic Ocean primary production sustained by rivers and coastal erosion



SAS January Webinar

The planning of the 2021 field season is well underway, and several important Synoptic Arctic Survey (SAS) cruises will take place.

On this occasion we would like to invite you to join the SAS January Webinar, where we will be learning about some of these cruises, and the finer details that goes into biological sampling programs. We will also learn the latest about drivers of Arctic ocean acidification.

There will be time for questions and discussions after each presentation.

Date, time and location:

January 28. 2021

14:00 – 15:30 UTC (15:00 – 16:30 CET)

Online, see details below



Pauline Snoeijs Leijonmalm (Stockholm University)

­Organizing a biological core parameter program for the SAS-Oden 2021 expedition

Heidemarie Kassens (GEOMAR)

Arctic Century – International expedition onboard research icebreaker Akademik Tryoshnikov 

Karl Adam Ulfsbo (University of Gothenburg)

Drivers of ocean acidification in the Arctic Ocean


The Webinar will take place in GoToMeeting. Please submit your e-mail in this form to get the meeting ID and password (the contact will only be used for this webinar, and the list will be deleted after two months).

Feel free to distribute this throughout your community and network.

See you there!

Meet our new coordinator, Anne Kari

Hello Anne Kari Øhman Meisingset!

  • What is your background? I have an MSc in chemical oceanography from the University of Bergen where I studied the increase in anthropogenic CO2 in the Nordic seas and Arctic Ocean. After finishing my degree last year, I participated in an ICOS Norway project, and I have been working on getting my thesis published.
  • What will you be doing in the SAS project? I will join the SAS team as a coordinator.
  • What fascinates you about the Arctic? There is so many fascinating things about the Arctic, but what intrigues me the most is all the unanswered questions and the ability to be a part of a community that might answer some of them. For example, how will climate change affect the Arctic region, and how will the physical, chemical, and biological processes respond to that change? When I worked on my thesis I never really knew what to expect from my results in the Arctic Ocean since there is not many findings to compare with, and it was always exciting to dive into different theories that could explain what I found.