ROCS research cruise

A team of scientists and researchers left port this summer on HAFRÓ research vessel Árni Friðriksson for the ROCS Centre’s first research cruise bound for coring sites in the Irminger Sea, Denmark Strait, and the Icelandic Basin.

Scientists from NIVA, GEUS, University of Aarhus, University of Copenhagen, University of Aalborg, University of Iceland, HAFRÓ and ROCS postdocs participated on the two-week cruise led by Professor Katherine Richardson, along with the ship’s captain and crew. The cruise’s primary goal of collecting sediment samples for eDNA analysis was successfully reached with seventeen cores retrieved with the Aarhus University gravity corer, all while evading the brunt of passing cyclone systems and sea state unfavourable to deploying the gravity corer.

Research on the cores is underway with the first core, from coring station 8, already sampled for DNA at the University of Copenhagen’s Geological Museum’s laboratory and according to evidence from the core catcher this sample dates back approximately 40.000 years. The dating and eDNA analysis of this and subsequent samples will shed light on the paleo-ecology and paleo-oceanography in Iceland as well as the history of marine plankton ecosystem structure in relation to climate conditions.

When coring was prevented by weather conditions, the team collected samples and conducted a study of pelagic processes as part of mapping ecosystem structure and processes in relation to climate-relevant variables and supports the analysis of sediment cores. In addition to the gravity cores, four Rumohrlot cores, which provide intact samples of the seafloor, were collected on the cruise. As it turns out, not all these samples were destined for purely scientific prodding as one would take centre stage in an art installation by ROCS postdoc and cruise participant Angela Rawlings aptly named “kór (core)”.

The research cruise plays a central role in ROCS Centre’s overarching investigation of the historical relationships between ecosystem structure and climate development as well as reciprocal effects on human societies. But it was also a meaningful experience, especially for the ROCS postdocs, two of whom are from the humanities and social sciences and were therefore embarking on their first ocean bound research expedition. According to the more seasoned participants, the research vessel’s captain and crew excelled in their skilfulness on and off duty which supported the success of the cruise.

Videoes with scientist from the cruise

Jørgen Bendtsen