Arctic Ocean - Project TransARC

The Arctic Ocean is located in the arctic north polar region and builts the smallest and shallowest of the five major oceans on earth. It is covered by sea ice throughout the year, especially in winter time. Because of a low evaporation rate, river runoff and a limited connection to surrounding waters, the Arctic Ocean shows a very low salinity on average.

Currently the Arctic Ocean is a key region where the effect of climatic change is most pronounced. This is evident in a decrease of sea ice extent and an enormous loss of multiyear sea ice. Both of them have major influences on the ecosystem and the arctic food web at all trophic levels. Our aim is to unveil the influence of this sea ice decline on biological diversity of protists and to assess the diversity and distribution of eukaryotic protists in the Arctic Ocean. In order to elucidate the impact of changing conditions on the plankton community the results will be compared with regard to abiotic factors. This project is a cooperation with the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI) in Bremen ( and while the AWI-Team focuses on ice water samples, our team studies eukaryotic life in sea ice and melt pond samples from the same stations in the Arctic Ocean.