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Present and past climate change impacts on Norwegian fjord ecosystems (PASTIME)

Present and past climate change impacts on Norwegian fjord ecosystems (PASTIME)

The aim of PASTIME is to uncover the impact of present and past environmental changes on marine microbial communities in Norwegian fjords. Climate change and anthropogenic pressures are impacting marine life in fjord ecosystems. Increasing temperatures, decreasing oxygen levels and sea ice loss in Arctic fjords are rapidly changing these pristine environments. This has dramatic consequences for large animals like fish or mammals. Yet, we don’t fully have a good grasp on how smaller organisms, the founding blocks of the ecosystem, will be affected. This is important to know, because any change in their biodiversity can have wide-ranging consequences for ecosystem health. To learn about how sensitive microbial communities are to environmental change, we will look back in time and investigate their responses to changes in the past. In particular, we are interested in how marine microbial communities in the western Norwegian Masfjorden and the Arctic Kongsfjorden changed over the last centuries from a preindustrial to a modern state in response to climate change and anthropogenic pressures. We make use of sediment cores that store information about past environmental conditions and biodiversity. We apply a novel, innovative approach for looking at past biodiversity by using traces of genetic material from the entire ecosystem, preserved in the sediment for thousands of years. The information obtained from this sedimentary ancient DNA will be combined with reconstructions of past environmental conditions, such as water temperature, oxygen levels, sea ice conditions and freshwater inflow, which we obtain through traditional paleontological proxies. In this way we can directly observe the response of marine microbial communities to environmental changes in the past, which is an important step towards improving predictions about future ecosystem changes in Norwegian fjords.

Project facts


Present and past climate change impacts on Norwegian fjord ecosystems (PASTIME)




01.03.24 - 31.12.27

Total budget

10.000.000 NOK


Research Council of Norway (RCN)

Project members

Katrine Husum
Haflidi Haflidason
Micah Dunthorn
Magdalena Lacka