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Home* News and Stories → Isfjord: cur­r­ent­ly a sub-arc­tic fjord

Isfjord: cur­r­ent­ly a sub-arc­tic fjord

The most­ly rela­tively mild wea­ther of the last mon­ths is only of secon­da­ry impor­t­ance for the fact the the fjords on Spitsbergen’s west coast are cur­r­ent­ly lar­ge­ly ice free. The warm water tem­pe­ra­tu­re is the most important fac­tor. The water tem­pe­ra­tu­re in the ent­ran­ce to Isfjor­den is cur­r­ent­ly at 1,5 degrees Cel­si­us or even more through the who­le water column. Sea­wa­ter free­zes near -1,7 degrees C. Nor­mal­ly, parts of the water column should be below zero.

The rea­son is the cur­r­ent­ly strong influ­ence of the West Spits­ber­gen cur­rent (“gulf stream”) that has pushed col­der arc­tic waters out and away from the west coast. This chan­ges not only the phy­si­cal cha­rac­te­ris­tics of the west coast fjords from high arc­tic to rather sub arc­tic, but also the local flo­ra and fau­na. Cod has been found more and more com­mon­ly in the bot­tom waters, tog­e­ther with had­dock (ano­t­her mem­ber of the cod fami­ly). Living blues­hell have been obser­ved for the first time in Isfjord in 2004 and has now been found in the har­bour of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Her­rings rea­dy for repro­duc­tion as has now been found is ano­t­her “first” for the­se waters.

It can be assu­med that the­se spe­ci­es have come to stay. Con­se­quen­ces for local eco­sys­tems are dif­fi­cult to pre­dict.

Outer Isfjord seen from Alk­hor­net.

Isfjord

Source: Mari­ne bio­lo­gists from UNIS, Jør­gen Ber­ge, Ole J. Løn­ne, Tove M. Gabri­el­sen, in Sval­bard­pos­ten 17/2012.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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