What is going on in the ocean?

Last week marked the second edition of the “One Ocean Week” here in Bergen. Among many events open to the public is the Ocean Outlook Conference that the Nansen Center co-organized, allowing anyone wanting to get a glimpse of the hot topics in marine research.

Our oceans have experienced substantial changes in the past decades, especially in the more recent years. Last year saw the hottest average temperatures ever recorded in the oceans, and that temperature anomaly has impacts on the climate, environment, and the deep sea. During the Ocean Outlook conference, researchers came together to share and discuss their findings with a focus on the climate and biology of the North Atlantic.

Our director Tore Furevik gave the opening speech on the reasons for the high temperatures in the North Atlantic, and how both human activities and natural processes have contributed to a general temperature increase globally and in particular in the North Atlantic. 90 % of the excess energy due to global warming ends up in the ocean.

Senior researcher Roshin P. Raj gave a talk on ocean warming and marine heatwaves in the Barents Sea. He explained how Nansen Center scientists collaborate with colleagues both in Norway and internationally to study various aspects leading to warming events in Arctic waters north of Norway.

The impacts of the unprecedented warming of the oceans need to be carefully studied. Conferences like “Ocean Outlook” lead to great discussions and the spreading of knowledge, and by opening to the public, also people outside the marine sciences community can join the discussions.

The conference is organized by the marine research community in Bergen and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA. The Norwegian partners are NORCE, the Institute for Marine Research, the University of Bergen, the Nansen Center, and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

What is the One Ocean Week?

One Ocean Week is a meeting place for debates and exchanges of knowledge and experiences related to sustainable use of the ocean. Last year it was arranged for the first time, and it will be an annual event in Bergen for the coming years, to create attention and share knowledge about the role the ocean plays for sustainable development globally. It is organized by One Ocean Havbyen Bergen and partners, with support from the Bergen municipality and the Vestland county.

What are marine heatwaves?

Marine heatwaves are events of extreme temperatures in the ocean, and they are becoming stronger and more frequent with climate change, a trend likely to continue. They occur all over the world, even within the Arctic Ocean. Marine heatwaves impact marine life, ecosystems, and in turn the economy of fisheries in the affected area. What exactly leads to a heatwave event is not fully understood, and their causes may be region-specific, in addition to being influenced by processes much further away.