New technology for marine biological and geological research in Greenland

New technology for marine biological and geological research in Greenland

Project lead:  Diana Krawczyk, Scientist, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
Other participants: Chris Yesson, Scientist, Zoological Society of London, UK,, Scott Tighe, Scientist, University of Vermont, USA,

Keywords: benthic habitats, climate change, Disko Bay, mapping, seafloor
Research area, purpose and research questions:
From DNA to 3D models of undersea landscapes – combining new technologies and research in Greenland to describe effects of long-term climate change on marine seabed environment and biodiversity in Greenland’s hotspot area. The unique hotspot area is Disko Bay region, located in central West Greenland shelf. This project brings together biology, metagenomics, geophysics, and geology to deliver new data on seafloor biodiversity and habitats, as well as topography with underlying geological structures. We have secured funding for the field campaign 2021 in the offshore Disko Bay, focused on a geophysical survey utilizing the new offshore vessel ‘Tarajoq’ equipped with multi-beam and sub-bottom profiler, and physical sampling using benthic sled (video imaging) and grab (sediment samples). Our research objective is to create an overview study of seafloor geo- and bio-habitats of the central West Greenland shelf area with target areas (i.e. where most data are available) containing more in-depth information on i) benthic biodiversity, including distribution of cold-water corals and information on microbial DNA/RNA, ii) geomorphology, i.e. providing information on subglacial landforms, sedimentary environment and distribution of geological features. This will be achieved by implementing cutting edge methodology and the ‘best practice’ protocol for high-resolution habitat mapping in the Arctic

Methods for capacity building and inclusion of society:
The project is centered at GN in Nuuk involving close collaboration between Arctic and Arctic-oriented research institutions, management and public authorities in Greenland. Promoting innovative research during lectures, seminars, in news and social media will help fill the education gaps and help prevent the ‘hit-and-run’ research, common in Greenland. This project will highlight the strength of Greenland’s leadership through high quality products resulting from joint efforts and management of the databases by the GN. The generated habitat maps will assist the Government of Greenland on sustainability of marine resources, hydrocarbon-related activities and climate change. Produced habitat maps will be consulted with the local shrimp group together with Royal Greenland and Polar Seafood to improve the knowledge on shrimp habitats in Greenland. New information on benthic biodiversity including VME species will help improve the ongoing monitoring effort within the working groups in CAFF, which Greenland will be the chair of. On-site efforts in Nuuk will include emphasis on bolstering local education on marine habitats and the effects of long-term climate change, such as ‘Culture Night’ in Nuuk and public lectures. The project will deliver much needed educational material for the Greenland Education programme, i.e. accredited university field course ‘Arctic Marine Ecosystems’ and natural science teaching in Nuuk. This project fulfils the recommendation of the ‘Strategy for Research and Education in the Arctic’ for high-quality research and education in and about the Arctic.

Methods for dissemination:
The field campaign is already announced on-line on, as well as will be announced at the natural science course in Nuuk and on GN website to create an opportunity to include other relevant collaborators/students in the survey and support student projects. The project will provide new knowledge and new maps showing glacial landscapes, areas with potential geohazards, distribution of key benthic organisms and associated fishing communities that will be made accessible to managers at the Government of Greenland and advisory bodies contributing to the natural resource management. Bathymetry data will be submitted to the Government of Denmark through Geodatastyrelsen as part of the hydrographic surveying and charting in Greenland. Baseline bathymetric data collected by GN are regularly submitted to the publically available global seafloor map of the GEBCO. The results will be incorporated in traditional outreach for scientists: conference presentations, such as Greenland Science Week and peer-reviewed publication. Progress of the project with key findings and deliverables will be promoted through social media (Facebook, Twitter) and research portals (ResearchGate), where stakeholders, such as government, NGOs, research institutions, funding agencies and public authorities promote their activities and exchange knowledge

Project start and end date: 1. juli 2021 – 1. juli 2022

Granted: 80.000,00 kr.

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