Pingvinsydpol 2021 svein

Scientists are looking to Antarctica

The Antarctic seminar will take place in Tromsø this week. Under the auspices of the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Research Council of Norway, research related to Antarctica will be presented. From NORCE, a number of researchers with different experiences and academic backgrounds will contribute in the form of lectures, posters and a movie screening.

Glaciologist and remote sensing engineer, Jelte van Oostveen is one of the researchers in the Tromsø seminar. For a number of years he has studied Queen Maud Land in East Antarctica, at first as a researcher in the Polar Institute and now from an office at NORCE in Tromsø. He uses data from satellites captured in the last 7-8 years and compares it to "old school" satellite data from the 90's.

In this way he can select photos, assess changes, and measure the Fimbul Ice Shelf without being on the ice itself. The Fimbul Ice Shelf is a giant glacier that measures approximately 41,000 km² and is located on the eastern part of Princess Märtha Coast from 3 ° west to 3 ° east.

- We look at the dynamics of the ice using radar data from satellites to see how things have changed over time, he says.

Van Oostveen participates in two ongoing research projects, one in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency) and another in collaboration with the Norwegian Space Agency. (The project names are: SEGA - Sentinel-1 Extra Wide swath data for Glaciological ApplicationsW-EXPLORE and Sentinel-1 EW mode archive Exploitation for Polar Research.)

At the seminar, Van Oostveen will also share some thoughts about what it is like to be a researcher located far away from your research object, and in this case, without having first-hand experience of Antarctica.

- It is perhaps unusual, but not impossible. I would still have preferred to have been there and seen Antarctica and the Fimbul Ice Shelf itself. It gives a greater understanding when you have an actual experience of what you are researching, even though remote sensing equipment makes monitoring and research quite accessible, says Van Oostveen, who is looking forward to meeting NORCE colleague Svein Østerhus, who also participates in the seminar.

Antarktisbilde NORCE
Photo taken by Svein Østerhus on one of his 15 visits to Antarctica
By using this technology and the repeated measurements means that I now have comparable data from the 70s, and we can see if there are changes in ocean currents that can lead to dramatically increased melting of the ice cap that keeps the South Pole ice inland, says Østerhus.
– Svein Østerhus

Østerhus with his 15 visits to Antarctica has extensive knowledge of the continent. In total, Østerhus has spent more than three years of his life in Antarctica in search of new data. He will talk about NORCE's osenaographic observatories in Antarctica. These are laboratories where we monitor the coldest water in the Weddell Sea, which is in West Antarctica (far south in the Atlantic Ocean), and far away from Queen Maud's Land where Van Oostveen is researching.

Two of the observatories measures the sea under the several hundred meters thick Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf (in volume the world's largest floating body). The data from the sensors in the seawater is sent to the surface via cable and on to Bergen via satellite. Once an hour new data appears in Østerhus' computer.

North of Filchner-Ronne, on the edge of the ice, NORCE has placed three equipments that measure the strength of the super-cold water that flows over the edge of the ice and down into the deep sea. It is this water that covers the bottom of the world's oceans.

-This project is a continuation of the work that my colleague Thor Kvinge (employed at the University of Bergen and Christian Michelsen's Institute - department of Natural Sciences, now NORCE) started in the late 60's. Kvinge placed the measuring equipment in the Weddell Sea and five years later, after several attempts, the equipment was recovered. By using this technology and the repeated measurements means that I now have comparable data from the 70s, and we can see if there are changes in ocean currents that can lead to dramatically increased melting of the ice cap that keeps the South Pole ice inland, says Østerhus.

Østerhus' research is included in several European research projects that you can read more about in the section below.

In Tromsø, NORCE also participates with a presentation from David Chandler. He will be presenting some work on how the Antarctic Ice Sheet responds to warmer ocean temperatures. His work is to help improve projections of sea level rise - these projections are still very uncertain, because there are several processes that are not well understood.
One of these processes is the melting of floating ice shelves around the edge of Antarctica. In his work we are running very long ice sheet simulations (200,000 years to the present day) to help us understand how the ice sheet depends on ocean temperature during past warm climates as well as the present global warming.

Pingvinsydpol 2021 svein
Everyone but the penguin participates in the Antarctic seminar for researchers in Tromsø. Photo Svein Østerhus

NORCE's research in Antarctica has roots back to the past

Draumen om straumen

Antarctic seminar

The Norwegian Polar Institute and the Research Council of Norway invite to the Antarctic Seminar 3-4 May 2022 in Tromsø. The seminar is the fourth in a row and follows the seminars held in 2016, 2018 and 2020. The main purpose of the seminar is to serve as a meeting place for all Antarctic researchers in Norway. The seminar is an arena for disseminating activities, results and other information. This year, the event committee has been assisted by a professional committee in planning the program. The professional committee has consisted of: Petra Langebroek, NORCE Jostein Bakke, UiB Sebastien Moreau, NP Peder Roberts, UiS Elisabeth Isaksson, NP Mattias Forwick, UiT

Program to the Antarctic seminar organsied by the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Research Council of Norway

NORCE’s climate projects in the Antarctic

PolarRES will study the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, and sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic to provide new insights into the key physical and chemical processes of these interactions on a local and regional level. PolarRES Homepage

TiPACCs is a European Horizon 2020 research project investigating the possibility of sudden and large changes in Antarctic Climate Components. TiPACCs Tipping Points in Antarctic Climate Components

SO-CHIC is a European Horizon 2020 research project that will contribute to reducing uncertainties in climate change predictions. The overall objective of SO-CHIC is to understand and quantify variability of heat and carbon budgets in the Southern Ocean through an investigation of the key processes controlling exchanges between the atmosphere, ocean and sea ice using a combination of observational and modelling approaches.. So-Chic

SO-ICE is a ESA project using state-of-the-art Earth Observation techniques to measure the flow and thickness of ice shelves in the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica. Observations and modelling of ocean circulation will then be used investigate how the ocean is both driving and responding to these ice shelf changes. SO-ICE – Southern Ocean – Ice Shelf Interaction.