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Hidden habitats - what lurks beneath the Greenland Seas?


The Arctic environment is changing more rapidly than the global average, in particular declining sea ice extent and thickness and increasing freshwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). Over the past millennia, changes in the ocean-climate dynamics reshaped the GrIS significantly, leaving complex landscapes beneath the seas around Greenland. The submerged post-glacial landforms serve as an archive of past ice sheet dynamics and simultaneously provide shelter to unique Arctic biodiversity from a destructive human impact on benthic environment. The planned hidden habitats survey will collect novel high-resolution environmental datasets, and together with existing historical data collected throughout decades of field campaigns by the project partners, will shed new light on past ocean-ice-climate interactions in West Greenland. The selected Disko Bay area perfectly fulfils assumptions of the hidden habitats hypothesis due to highly complex topography, hydrography and rich marine biodiversity including rare observations of vulnerable species. We plan a 10-day survey in SW Disko Bay (West Greenland) for 8 researchers in summer 2020. The overall survey will be divided into two key activities: 1) continuous geological survey with onboard multi-beam echo sounder and deep-towed combined side scan sonar with sub-bottom profiler and 2) biological sampling (stop and re-start) using underwater photo/video imaging system. The geological part will deliver ultra-high-resolution data on surface and sub-surface geology of the area, seafloor topography and sediment types including information on potential gas seeps or biogenic structures, whereas underwater imaging will deliver data on benthic habitats and biodiversity with special focus on cold-water corals.

Start date
End date
Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR)
Greenland Climate Research Centre
Type of transport
Research ship
Open seats, if any
Greenland, Mid-West
Logistic coordinator
Greenland Institute of Natural Resources