Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cabled observatory in Loch Etive (Scotland) successfully deployed

On 28.11.2009, Henrik Stahl and coworkers from the HYPOX team at the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) successfully deployed a cabled observatory in the upper basin of Loch Etive. The deployment took place at best weather conditions with almost no wind after a several week long bad weather period - not unusual at Scotlands west coast at this time of the year. The calm weather allowed to lay the 1200m long cable from the center of Loch Etive to the base station at the shore. Deployment works started out early in the morning with three boats involved: One for deploying the mooring, one for laying the underwater cable and another smaller boat for taking the last bit of the cable into shore. Thanks to the eminent crew of the boats and the marine Technology/Physics department at SAMS everything went according to plan. After plugging in the cable and switching on the power the instruments came alive right away sending data through the cable. The next step is now to connect the base station to the internet for making the data available online in real-time.

Fig. 1: RV Calanus (SAMS) and a supplementary vessel involved in deployment works

Fig. 2: Laying out the underwater cable

Fig. 3: The recording current meter and data processing and communication unit during deployment

First HYPOX observatory deployed in the Koljö Fjord area, Sweden

Per Hall, Anders Tengberg, and coworkers from the HYPOX team at Gothenburg University (UGOT) deployed the first HYPOX observatory in the Havstens Fjord. Havstens Fjord is located in the Koljö Fjord area and supplies the Koljö Fjord with water. After successful testing in October 2009 a string type observatory was deployed on 3.11.2009. The deployment is planned to continue until at least March 2010.
The string observatory hosts three oxygen optodes and four sensors for conductivity (salinity) distributed at water depths between 6 and 18m. At the lower end of the string (at ca 25 m water depth) there is a recording current meter (“Seaguard”, AADI, Norway), measuring currents and pressure (depth and sea level change), and logging all sensor data. Temperature is measured at all depths. For future deployments, a total of fourteen sensors can be connected to the string at seven different depths at a vertical distance of 3m. To prevent damage from ice cover in winter the string is deployed without surface buoy.

The string-type observatory on deck of the UGOT R/V Skagerak just before deployment (photo: Per Hall, UGOT).

Autumn-expedition to the Tarkhankut gas seep region by HYPOX partner IBSS

In November 2009, the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (IBSS) performs a land-based expedition to the Tarkhankut gas seeps region – a shallow area near the Crimea Peninsula. In continuation of the last field trip in September the intention is to follow up on the former investigations and to monitor seasonal changes that may occur. The observations conducted include physico-chemical as well as biological parameters:

Water column above the gas seeps: Dissolved oxygen, oxygen demand, temperature, pH

Seep-associated microbial mats: Sulfide and oxygen, redox-potential, pH, organic matter content (unstable and stable); micro- and macrozoobenthos under hypoxic conditions.

Preliminary conclusions:

Hypoxic conditions in the seep associated microbial mats as well as in the nearby water column prevail also in late autumn. However, compared to the situation in September, oxygen was found to penetrate deeper into the mat while sulfide concentrations decreased. Higher organisms adapted to microbial mats were observed to tolerate high sulphide concentrations and oxygen depletion for at least two months.

Fig. 1: Natasha Orekhova and Yury Vnukov in front of a profiling device that advances microsensors for oxygen and sulfide at 1mm steps into microbial mats (photo - M.Gulin).


Video: Vitaly Timofeev (diving) and Maksim Gulin (operating the rubberboat) take samples of mats, zoobenthos, and the water column (video - N.Orekhova).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oxygen optode calibration workshop at the Max Planck Institut in Bremen (9.-11.12.09)

The Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen (MPI, www.mpi-bremen.de) hosts a three-day workshop on the calibration of macro oxygen optodes. These sensors, that are manufactured by the Aanderaa Data Instruments in Norway (AADI; www.aadi.no), determine dissolved oxygen concentrations based on the changes in optical properties of an oxygen sensitive fluorophor. Due to their outstanding long-term stability and their insensitivity to pressure, macro oxygen optodes have become a standard tool for long term monitoring of dissolved oxygen in the water column and will be the main sensor type used for oxygen monitoring in HYPOX. The main goal of the workshop is to test a simplified procedure for the calibration of these sensors. This is done by exposing optodes of unknown or outdated calibration (“test optodes”) and known calibration (“reference optodes”) to a large variety of temperatures and oxygen partial pressures in a big airtight calibration vessel. Different partial pressures are established when water temperature (and, hence, oxygen solubility) is changed in the vessel. By running a temperature gradient at several oxygen concentrations the entire range of environmentally relevant temperatures and oxygen partial pressures can be covered with a reasonable effort. The workshop was attended by eight people from the Gothenburg University, the MPI, and AADI.

The workshop participants (Photograph: M. Schloesser, MPI)

Close up of the optodes in the calibration vessel (Photograph: M. Schloesser, MPI)

M. Holtappels and F. Janssen filling the calibration vessel (Photograph: M. Schloesser, MPI)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

hypox expedition to a methane seep area at the Crimean Shelf

From 4. to 6.9.2009 the Ukranian hypox partner "Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas" (IBSS) conducted a land-based expedition to a shallow methane seep area at Tarkhankut Cape (NW Crimea peninsula, Black Sea).

Fig. 1: The site (photograph: Sergei Konovalov)

Video: methane seeping from the seafloor (Maksim Gulin)

The work was centered at effects of methane seeping on water column oxygen concentration, sediment biogeochemistry and benthic communities. Sampling and measurements were conducted by divers. Voltammetric microprofiles of diverse constituents (O2, Fe2+, Mn+, H2S, various other sulfur compounds...) were measured immediately on the beach. Analyses of meiofauna distributions and other sediment parameter are currently performed at IBSS.

Fig. 2: Sediment coring (photograph: Sergei Konovalov)

Fig. 3: Voltammetric profiling on the beach (photograph: Vitaly Timofeev)

First results indicate that hypoxic conditions may be present in the bottom waters where gas seeping occurs. Microbial mats found at the surface of the seafloor. For the first time it was observed that fishes fed on the mats or the associated fauna leading to dispersal of parts of the mats into the water column.

Fig. 4: The IBSS team: Sofia Konovalova, Sergey Konovalov, Vitaly Timofeev, Maksim Gulin, Natasha Orekhova (left to right)

Surveys of hypox-partner GeoEcoMar at the Romanian Black Sea Shelf

The Romanian Shelf is one of the hypox target sites for hypoxia studies in the Black Sea. For decades, the north-western shelf received particularly high nutrient loads, mainly through the discharge of the Danube. Eutrophication resulted in an increase in deposition of organic matter and seabed oxygen consumption that led to recurrent and widespread seasonal bottom water hypoxia and a deterioation of the of the benthic system: Sea grass, benthic macroalgae communities, and mussel beds disappeared. Thus, in combination with overfishing, eutrophication led to complete collapse of the pelagic and benthic ecosystems. Reduced riverine nutrient discharges following the breakdown of industry and agriculture in eastern European countries led to the decrease in occurrence of large-scale bottom water hypoxia since the 1990’s and allowed for a slow recovery of the pelagic and benthic ecosystems. The Romanian shelf is thus of particular interest to investigate processes that benthic systems undergo upon recovery from previous hypoxia and understand the complex interaction of nutrient input, climate forcing, and oxygen availability.

Already in May (i.e., project month 2) Marian-Trajan Gomoiu and colleagues from the hypox partner GeoEcoMar (National Institute of Marine Geology and Geo-ecology of Romania) conducted a cruise to the Romanian Shelf. Investigations included sampling of the benthic communities as well as mapping of oxygen distributions in shelf waters and at the seafloor. At this time of the year hypoxic conditions with dissolved oxygen concentrations below 63µmol/L or 2mg/L were largely restricted to water depths >100m, i.e., around and below the shelf break. The same sites will be revisited several times within the time course of the project to follow the temporal and spatial dynamic of oxygen distributions and the response of the bethic communities.

Fig. 1: Overview of the stations visited during the GeoEcoMar cruise in May

Fig. 2: An example of the distribution of dissolved oxygen along a transect on the Romanian Shelf

Kick-Off Meeting of GEO Task ST-09-02

Hypox Scientist Christoph Waldmann from the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at Bremen University (MARUM) participated in the Kick Off Meeting of the Group on Earth Observation's (GEO) task ST-09-02. The task was initiated as part of the 2009-2011 workplan of GEO to promote the development of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The main goal of this task is to promote awareness and benefits of GEOSS in the scientific and technological communities in order to engage the research community in GEO and GEOSS. Activities include the forming of links with major scientific research enterprises and to actively encourage relevant scientists and technical experts to contribute to GEOSS.

Fig. 1: The nine societal benefit areas of GEO (taken from the slide library The Group on Earth Observation: An Introduction; www.geo-tasks.org/slide_library/)

The Kick-Off Meeting took place on 27.-28.7.2009 at the ESA/ESRIN centre in Frascati, Italy and was attended by 19 participants from Europe and the US. As representative of the European Comission (EC), Vojko Bratina reported on the efforts of the EC to foster some of the Task activities as well as other GEO-related projects. Within the Framework Program 7 (FP7), the EC funds GEO-relevant projects. A central requirement of the EC is compliance with the GEOSS standards, including registration of data sets and services in GEOSS registries. HYPOX is one of four projects that got funded in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, another twelve GEO-related projects are expected to be funded by the EC.

Fig. 2: The European Space Agency- European Space Research Institute ESA/ESRIN ground facilities in Frascati (Rome), Italy (www.esa.int/SPECIALS/ESRIN_SITE/SEMQPWY5D8E_0.html)

At the meeting, lively discussions took place. Part of them centered on establishing a "GEO label" to denote that data sets and products with the label had been validated/quality controlled according to a set of well-defined rules. This activity was strongly challenged as a GEO quality control (QC) may interfere with already established quality assurance procedures of space agencies and other organizations. One result of task ST-09-02 is the organization of a Union Session at the AGU Fall Meeting 2009. During this session, "compelling examples" will be shown to demonstrate how GEOSS works for science.

Further information about the Kick-Off meeting and meeting minutes are found here: www.geo-tasks.org/st0902/meetings/

Monday, November 2, 2009

Black Sea cruise in the Istanbul Strait area

From 9-21 November 2009 a HYPOX research cruise is conducted using Istanbul Universities' Research Vessel "Arar". The work is carried out close to the mouth of the Istanbul Strait area within the Turkish economic zone of the Black Sea. The cruise is joined by HYPOX project partners from Istanbul University's Eastern Mediterranean Centre for Oceanography and Limnology (N. Çagatay, U. B. Ulgen, E. Damci, Z. Erdem), the Ukranian Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (S. Mazlumyan, I.P. Bondarev) and the German Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (M. Holtappels, A. Lichtschlag, G. Klockgether).

Fig. 1: the working area in the istanbul strait area (41.35°– 42.00°N and 29.00° E – 29.80° E)

The first objective of the cruise is to study the present and past oxygen conditions of the Black Sea area using geophysical subbottom profiling and sediment coring along transects from 70 m to 300 m water depth. The cores are analyzed for inorganic and organic proxies and benthic communities. The second objective is to study the effect of lateral intrusions of warm, saline, oxic Mediterranean waters on the biogeochemical cycling and microbiologic communities in the anoxic Black Sea water column. This will be done by a combination of chemical measurements and various 15N/13C incubation experiments.

Fig. 2: RV "Arar" of Istanbul University

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Upcoming expedition of hypox Partners from Kiel and Gothenburg to the Gotland Basin

From 18.9. to 6.10.2009 the first hypox expedition to the Gotland Basin in the central Baltic Sea takes place on board of the IFM-GEOMAR research vessel ALKOR. The scientific crew that is led by Olaf Pfannkuche (IFM-GEOMAR) includes five scientists and PhD students from the IFM-GEOMAR and the University of Gothenburg (UGOT).

R/V ALKOR (Tonnage 1322GT, Length 54,5m). Photo: IFM-GEOMAR

Map of ALKOR cruise No. 346 working area and stations: Studies are carried out in Latvian waters along depth transects and along a transect in the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone. Map: O. Pfannkuche, IFM-GEOMAR

The major focus of the expedition is on in situ measurements of turnover and fluxes of a variety of different compounds in the benthic boundary layer (BBL) at different ambient bottom water oxygen concentrations. The investigated compounds include nitrogen species as well as phosphate, iron, manganese and dissolved carbon. Additionally, in situ experiments are carried out to systematically investigate the effect of variable bottom water oxygen levels (and specific threshold concentrations) on N-speciation and the release of nutrients. Further activities comprise investigations of sediment geochemistry and biota (meiobenthos, epibenthos) as well as sea floor imaging.

Retrieval of the biogeochemical observatory (BIGO) in a GEOMAR-lander frame. Photo: O.Pfannkuche, IFM-GEOMAR

Deployment of the UGOT benthic chamber Lander. Photo: UGOT

Friday, August 28, 2009

Two cruises conducted to characterize hydrography and oxygen distribution in Amvrakikos Gulf

In June and August two oceanographic cruises to the Amvrakikos Gulf (Western Greece) were carried out by hypox partners from the Laboratory of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography at Patras University. G. Papatheodorou and his colleagues investigated oxygen distributions and the oceanographic regime in the Gulf in order to select appropriate sites for monitoring activities in hypox.

The team from the Laboratory of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography at Patras University and the 14m long research vessel "Erene".

In June, the water exchange between The Gulf and the Ionian Sea was characterized by current, salinity and temperature measurments in the Preveza Straits. The August cruise focused on the water column structure of the Gulf itself. Investigations included measurements of oxygen and standard oceanographic parameters as well as sediment sampling and visual inspection of the seafloor. Initial results show that the Gulf is characterized by a fjord like oceanographic regime with a well stratified two layer structure in the water column. A strong pycnocline with sharp gradients in oxygen separates a well oxygenated surface layer from an anoxic bottom layer.

The ROV MKII BENTHOS just before diving into the Amvrakikos Gulf.

Friday, August 14, 2009

hypox partners from the Institute of Biology of the Southern Sea (IBSS) join the 5th IGCP 521 / INQUA 501 plenary meeting and field trip (22- 31.8.09)

Two projects on the quaternary history of sea level change and human adaptation in the Black Sea Mediterranean Corridor (IGCP 521 and INQUA 501) hold their 2009 plenary meeting and field trip in Istanbul, Izmir, and Çanakkale (Turkey). The history of this region under the influence of sea level changes in the last 30,000 years has a strong link to the hypox focus on the effect of global change on oxygen availability and its implications. Nelli Sergeeva and Igor Bondrev from the IBSS join the meeting and field trip and present investigations of faunal assemblages at the shelf break and oxic/anoxic interface of the northwestern Black Sea.Your browser may not support display of this image.

The Black Sea-Mediterranean Corridor covering the Manych-Kerch Gateway, the Black Sea, the Marmara Gateway, the Aegean Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and their coasts (www.avalon-institute.org/IGCP).

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Nelli Sergeeva and Igor Bondarev giving a talk at this years IGCP 521 / INQUA 501 Plenary Meeting.

Coring activities near Miletos during the 2009 field trip


Presentation of hypox plans for the Gotland Basin at the Baltic Sea Science Congress in Tallin

Detlef Schulz-Bull and Ralf Prien from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemuende (http://www.io-warnemuende.de/en_index.html) present their plans for the hypox field site in the Gotland Basin at the 7th Baltic Sea Science Congress 2009 in Tallinn, Estonia (17.-21. August; http://www.bssc2009.org). Since its creation in the mid 1990ies, the biannual Baltic Sea Science Congress brings together marine scientists from all around the Baltic to discuss all aspects of Baltic Sea Research. Topics span from "The Baltic Basin through the Last Glacial Cycle" to "Impact of changing climate on the Baltic Sea ecosystem". The poster presentation of the planned hypox profiling mooring for the Gotland Basin perfectly fits the congress motto of this years Baltic Sea Science Congress: "Towards better understanding and improved technology for serving the society".

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Illustration of the profiling system

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Approximate position of planned station in the Gotland Basin

Ralf Prien explaining the profiling mooring at the BSSC in Tallinn. Photograph: Robert Schmidt, IOW

hypox-scientists are joining Polarstern cruise to the Arctic

Together with 50 scientists, engineers, technicians and students, hypox scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, (AWI; www.awi-bremerhaven.de), and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen (MPI; www.mpi-bremen.de) embarked in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. They will participate in the second cruise leg of RV „Polarstern“ during her 24th Arctic expedition. The aim of the hypox project work on board is to continue long term oxygen measurements at the deep-sea long term station "Hausgarten".

The "Hausgarten" station is situated west of Svalbard at 79 degrees northern latitude and comprises 16 sampling stations that cover a depth range of 1000 to 5500 meters. Although the water column is far from hypoxia the station was selected as one of the hypox project field sites: Previous oxygen data seemed to indicate a significant decline of oxygen concentrations in the bottom water that may be related to climate induced changes in deep water formation in the North Atlantic - Arctic Ocean transition.

The “Hausgarten” observatory is operated since 10 years. Since 2004 it carries out long term oxygen measurements, making it one of the first observatories to include this parameter. The “Hausgarten” observatory provides some 17000 data points on dynamics in oxygen concentration in Arctic bottom waters to the HYPOX data base.

Within the hypox project, research related to dynamics in oxygen concentrations and fluxes in the Arctic will be fostered by adding long-term optode oxygen sensors to moorings, and by additional measurements of various oxygen consumption parameters in the water column and sediments. The techniques applied include in situ chamber incubations and microprofiling as well as flux measurements in retrieved cores. The first project activity during the cruise is the deployment of a free falling lander at the Molloy Deep, a 5600 m deep depression and the deepest Hausgarten station that will do it’s pre-programmed monitoring mission over the coming twelve months. Weekly reports with more information on the cruise are found at www.awi.de/en/infrastructure/ships/polarstern/weekly_reports.

hypox lander equipped with oxygen optodes at the sea surface soon after release at Hausgarten (Photo: T. Soltwedel)

Oxygen microsensor profiles are measured in and next to starvation experiments. Here the benthic community has been closed off from sedimentation of fresh organic matter for one year (Photo: MARUM)

Benthic Chamber testing in Loch Etive


Following an invitation of Laurence Mee, Director of The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) - a partner institute of HYPOX, Jana Friedrich (AWI) and Felix Janssen (MPI) are spending a week at SAMS, Oban (UK). The purpose of the visit is the test of a new benthic chamber system, which will be used in field studies during the HYPOX project. The benthic chamber system has been developed during a Royal Society International Joint Projects grant in a collaboration of AWI, MPI, University of Plymouth and SAMS. The deployment of the system will be carried out from RV “Calanus”, the SAMS ship, at the proposed hypox project sites in Loch Etive. The chamber design is optimized to penetrate hard, consolidated sediments at minimum perturbation of the sediment surface. Total benthic oxygen uptake data will be derived from recordings of an oxygen macro optode in the chamber. In addition, nutrient fluxes will be calculated from time series of chamber water samples. Once operational, the chamber will mainly be used for investigations of benthic fluxes at the Romanian Shelf (northwestern Black Sea).


The chamber system during a test at the Marum test basin facility (26.06.2009)
Photograph: M. Schloesser, MPI

The chamber system during a test at the Marum test basin facility (26.06.2009)
Photograph: M. Schloesser, MPI

A short video about the test in the Marum test basin facility (26.06.2009). Footage: M Schloesser, MPI (air), M. Fritsche & P. Kampmann, DFKI (underwater); editing: M. Schloesser & F. Janssen, MPI.

15.4.-17.4.2009: Kick-off Meeting

Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI), Bremen, Germany

Only two weeks after the official start of the HYPOX project representatives of all partners of the consortium joined at the Max-Planck.Institute in Bremen, Germany for a first general meeting. For three days (15-17.04.2009) the partners jumped right away into lively discussions on all aspects of the projects. The scientific program of the meeting was focusing on structure and tasks of the eight Work Packages and on the characteristics of the project sites and work to be carried out there.

Inspiring scientific and technological input was provided by talks on hypoxia occurrence and science (Jack Middelburg), state of the art in long term oxygen measurements (Anders Tengberg), and the challenges and benefits of the GEO and GEOSS initiatives (Christoph Waldmann).

The program was completed by presentations on related projects: the ESONET/EMSO Network of Excellence (Jean Francois Rolin), the HYPER project (Jacob Carstensen, University of Aarhus, Denmark), and the project EuroSITES (Kate Larkin, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK).

Download the Meeting Programme here: hypox_kickoff_schedule_090402_FJ.pdf