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Home* News and Stories → Envi­ron­men­tal situa­ti­on in the Barents Sea

Envi­ron­men­tal situa­ti­on in the Barents Sea

The new envi­ron­men­tal sta­tus report of a Nor­we­gi­an working group that includes a num­ber of rese­arch insti­tu­ti­ons has been published in Febru­ary. It sum­ma­ri­zes sci­en­tic data con­cer­ning various envi­ron­men­tal deve­lo­p­ments. The report (Nor­we­gi­an) is detail­ed and has yiel­ded expec­ted deve­lo­p­ment as well as sur­pri­ses.

Some important results:

  • As was to be expec­ted, the ice cover of the Barents Sea has decreased noti­ce­ab­ly from 1979 to 2009. 2005, 2007 and 2008 were years with extre­me­ly litt­le ice. The pro­por­ti­on of mul­ti-year ice has decreased, espe­ci­al­ly in 2007.
  • During the same peri­od, water tem­pe­ra­tures have expe­ri­en­ced an increase of around 1°C, most­ly due to an increased influx of Atlan­tic water. This has pro­no­un­ced, but com­plex effects on nut­ri­ent avai­la­bi­li­ty as well as popu­la­ti­on dyna­mics of dif­fe­rent fish (and other) spe­ci­es.
  • Sea­bird colo­nies in Spits­ber­gen and Nor­way have deve­lo­ped in dif­fe­rent ways, but the short mes­sa­ge is an over­all decli­ne over dif­fe­rent spe­ci­es and geo­gra­phi­cal are­as. In Spits­ber­gen, Brünich’s Guil­l­emots have gone down signi­fi­cant­ly in num­bers, the hig­hest docu­men­ted loss being 36 % within the last 5 years at Fug­le­hu­ken on the island of Prins Karls For­land. Kit­ty­wa­kes have suf­fe­r­ed los­ses of up to 43 % (Bear Island) during the same time span, whe­re­as the Com­mon Guil­l­emot, a bird that is more adapt­ed to sub-arc­tic con­di­ti­ons, has increased by 38 % on Bear Island. The situa­ti­on is even more dra­ma­tic in north Nor­way, whe­re almost all sea­bird spe­ci­es have suf­fe­r­ed seve­re los­ses at most loca­ti­ons, in some cases of more than 99 %.
  • The volu­mes of pla­s­tic rub­bish seem to have gone back slight­ly in recent years. Sin­ce 1998, it is not allo­wed any­mo­re to dis­po­se any pla­s­tics into the sea.
  • Con­cen­tra­ti­ons of long-lived envi­ron­men­tal toxins such as BCPs and PAKs have decreased until about 2004, but have increased slight­ly again and are sta­ble sin­ce then.
  • Radio­ac­ti­vi­ty is still low. Main sources are nuclear wea­pon test­ing during the 1950s and 1960s, Cher­no­byl and the nuclear repro­ces­sing plants of Sel­la­field (Eng­land) and La Hague (France). The Sov­jet nuclear sub­ma­ri­ne K-278 Kom­so­mo­lets, that sank 180 kilo­me­t­res sou­the­ast of Bear Island in 1989 and is still lying at 1858 met­res depth, has not emit­ted signi­fi­cant amounts of radio­iso­to­pes – so far.
  • Die Kon­zen­tra­tio­nen lang­le­bi­ger Schad­stof­fe wie PCBs (Poly­chlo­rier­te Bifenyle) und PAKs (Poly­zy­kli­sche aro­ma­ti­sche Koh­len­was­ser­stof­fe) gin­gen bis etwa 2004 zurück, stie­gen seit­dem aber wie­der leicht an und sind seit­dem nähe­rungs­wei­se sta­bil.

Pla­s­tic rub­bish, most­ly »lost« from fishing ves­sels.
Washed up onto and coll­ec­ted from a small part of a remo­te beach in Hin­lo­pen Strait, nor­the­as­tern Spits­ber­gen.

Environmental situation in the Barents Sea - Lundehuken

Source: For­valt­nings­plan Barents­ha­vet 2010



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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange