A Genetic View into Past Sea Ice Variability in the Arctic

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-21 at 17.22.43

Sampling in the Arctic

Kristine Steinsland and Danielle Grant are currently onboard the icebreaker RV Kronprins Haakon in the cold Arctic. They have joined…

First sample collection

AGENSI started on 1 August 2019. One of the first actions was to collect new sediment samples in the Arctic.…

AGENSI PhD candidates selected

In late May 2019, we invited applications for two PhD positions in Paleoceanography. One position focuses on using Palynology and…


Arctic sea ice decline is the exponent of the rapidly transforming Arctic climate. If greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked in the coming decades, summer sea ice loss may pass a critical threshold that could drastically affect the Arctic and global climate. The ensuing regional and global implications of such change can be understood by studying past climate transitions, yet few methods are available to examine past Arctic sea ice cover. This severely restricts our understanding of sea ice in the climate system.

Because satellite and historical observations are limited, it is crucial to have reliable proxies for assessing natural sea ice variability, its stability and sensitivity to climate forcing on different time scales. The main objective of this project is to develop environmental ancient DNA as a novel proxy for sea ice reconstructions. The innovation of this project is to use the genetic signature from surface water and sea ice organisms that are stored in sediments. This wealth of information has not been explored before, and requires calibration to observations and existing proxies for sea ice reconstructions.

The project runs from 2019 to 2023. The research group is based at the Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) and the Bjerknes Centre of Climate Research in Bergen, Norway. The project is funded by an European Research Council Consolidator Grant.  Link here.

Ancient DNA lab

Building the new ancient DNA lab at NORCE (Bergen) started in August 2019 and was completed in spring 2020. The lab is now in use and we had an AGENSI sampling party in June 2020. We collected samples from a marine sediment core from the Fram Strait.


Principal investigator

Research Professor at NORCE Climate, Norwegian Research Centre and
Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Senior Researcher at NORCE

Senior Researcher at NORCE

Senior Researcher at NORCE

Chief Engineer Ocean Observations at NORCE

Chief Engineer Molecular Ecology at NORCE

Chief Engineer Molecular Ecology at NORCE

Research Professor at NORCE, Professor at University of Bergen

PhD student at NORCE & University of Bergen

PhD Student at NORCE & University of Bergen


Reader in Information Engineering,
University of Glasgow


Professor, AWI-Bremerhaven &

MARUM, University of Bremen


Senior Scientist, AWI-Bremerhaven and University of Bremen


Katrine Sandnes Skaar, currently Senior Department Engineer at Ocean TuniCell AS