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The impact of artificial light on arctic marine organisms and ecosystems during the polar night (Deep Impact)

The Deep Impact project will examine the effects of light pollution (artificial light) on the Arctic marine ecosystem and its organisms during the polar night.

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Project date

Starts
2020-10-01

Ends
2024-12-31

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Project type

  • field work
  • arctic field grant (afg)

Discipline

  • marine biology
  • oceanography
  • technology and engineering

Project Keywords

  • atmosphere / atmospheric radiation / incoming solar radiation
  • oceans / marine biology / marine invertebrates
  • oceans / ocean optics / attenuation/transmission
  • atmosphere / atmospheric radiation / solar radiation
  • atmosphere / atmospheric radiation / solar irradiance
  • atmosphere / atmospheric radiation / sunshine
  • oceans / ocean optics / irradiance

Fieldwork information

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Summary

Recent advances in the study of Arctic marine ecosystems have caused a radical shift regarding how we perceive their seasonality and function. Instead of an ecosystem that enters a resting state during the polar night, we now recognize a system in which most trophic levels and taxonomic groups remain active. And importantly, a system for which light, even at the deadof night, is the regulative factor. In such a system where organisms remain active and are adapted to detect and respond to extremely low levels of natural light, we hypothesize that their susceptibility towards light pollution is likely to be high. With a continued warming and reduction of Arctic sea ice, human presence in the region is likely to increase. Inevitably, so will light pollution. Moreover, we have carried out a pilot study in the Arctic polar night which showed that the entire pelagic community - fish and zooplankton, alike- avoid the faint light from a research vessel down to at least 200m depth. This has triggered new and innovative hypotheses and research questions that form the foundation of Deep Impact: Can we reliably carry out biological surveys in the dark from vessels illuminated by artificial light? A quantification and assessment of the potential bias introduced from a lit-ship on any measurement, sampling, bio-acoustical surveys and stock assessments of commercial and non-commercial species, holds great potential for providing ground-breaking discoveries relevant for the Arctic region itself and beyond. The Arctic polar night, however, provides the perfect test site from which this may be tested.

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