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Sampling in the Arctic

Kristine Steinsland and Danielle Grant are currently onboard the icebreaker RV Kronprins Haakon in the cold Arctic. They have joined a cruise led by J. Knies from the Centre of Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (University of Tromsø). The cruise will collect data on methane release from the ocean floor and take sediment cores, up to 25 meters long. As a result, this will open a window on the climate history of the Svalbard region going back 100,000 years. Importantly, during the cruise, the first samples for AGENSI will be collected also.

Kristine and Danielle have joined this expedition specifically to collect fresh sediment material for their PhD projects. Reports from the ship come sporadically, because internet access is limited in these remote areas. But they let us know that they survived their first storm (with sea sickness medication) en route to the first station.


Stormy weather west of Svalbard. Picture courtesy of D.I. Blindheim.

During this rough weather they nevertheless managed to prepare and clean the lab from top to bottom. This is necessary in preparation for taking ancient DNA samples. With that, also comes a warning notice to the entire ship!

The excellent news is that they collected the first seafloor sediments for their PhD projects two days ago. The team successfully recovered a 13-m sediment core dating back 150,000 years. This made the chief scientist very happy. During the expedition, Kristine and Danielle will continue to collect samples for sedimentary ancient DNA, palynology and biomarker analyses. These are essential for developing new proxies for sea ice reconstructions. And ultimately, to better understand the climate history of Svalbard and the Arctic.

You can take a tour of the research vessel, and follow updates from the expedition and the chief scientist here. Updates from Danielle and Kristine will come on the AGENSI website.