Arctic water exiting into the Atlantic ocean between Europe and Greenland is an important component of the global deep water circulation of the planet and its heat budget. Establishment of a long term station here is important for tracking global change as ice cover decreases but there are also important deep sea habitats such as mud volcanoes in the ‘Hausgarten’ region, off Svalbard.
Main objectives are the detection and the tracking of environmental changes in the transition zone between the northern North Atlantic and the central Arctic Ocean and the experimental determining of key factors controlling deepsea biodiversity. As a consequence, the German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) established the deep-sea long-term observatory HAUSGARTEN. This observatory is located in Fram Strait, the only deep connection between the central Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas, where exchanges of intermediate and deep waters take place. Circulation patterns in Fram Strait result in a variable sea-ice cover, with permanent ice-covered areas in the west, permanent ice-free areas in the south-east, and seasonal varying ice conditions in central and north-eastern parts, i.e. in the wider HAUSGARTEN area. The dramatic decrease in sea-ice extent observed over the last decades causes an ongoing northward shift of the ice-edge related primary production.
Proposed regional network in Arctic Sea