Marja Koski

Can we measure the effects of climate change in the Arctic?

Tuesday 23 Mar 21
by Helle Falborg


Marja Koski
Associate Professor
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 07

Impacts of climate change on the Arctic

Danish researchers took part in the voyage under the EU-funded ECOTIP project, which is investigating when and why climate change leads to abrupt changes in Arctic ecosystems. Several research institutions from Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Japan, Canada, and other countries are participating in the project. DTU Aqua is coordinating the Danish part of the project.

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In autumn 2020, an international research team was stationed in the sea west of Greenland to investigate how climate change affects ecosystems in the Arctic.

What controls the exchange of seawater between the Arctic and the Atlantic oceans? Are there any signs of changes in ocean currents? How will the changes affect marine organisms—from the microscopic plankton to the large marine mammals?

These were some of the questions a research team with members from USA, Greenland, and Denmark sought answers to as they traversed Davis Strait west of Greenland in the Danish marine research ship, Dana, in autumn 2020.

The Danish researchers on the team wanted to investigate when and why climate change leads to sudden and dramatic changes in arctic marine ecosystems—called ‘tipping points’. Reaching a tipping point could lead to a domino effect that impacts biodiversity, the functions of ecosystems, and ultimately, the people who depend on them.

Data needed in the Arctic

Marja Koski, Senior Researcher at DTU Aqua, is an expert in copepods and examines the mix of species, their role in the ocean’s absorption of carbon, and their value as fish feed. She joined the voyage to collect data for her calculations of the mix of species and carbon absorption in the Arctic region. She is pleased that Denmark has an ocean-going research ship, and notes that her studies depend on field work:

“When you work with biodiversity in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, you can’t avoid going out to sea. This is an area where we do not have enough knowledge. The observations needed to do calculations and modelling do not exist,” says Marja Koski.

“You can do a lot of studies using data collected via sensors on satellites or other platforms, but many studies require that you personally collect water samples and marine fauna from the depths in the areas being investigated,” she says.

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