The deep sea is the largest and yet least explored ecosystem on Earth. Even less is known about the more remote deep-sea beyond the polar circle. Until recently, deep-sea research has predominantly encompassed single sampling campaigns or measurements. Such data, however, represent only snap shots in time and space so that ecological conclusions are of restricted applicability. Long-term studies offer the opportunity to identify environmental settings determining the structure, complexity and the development of deep-sea communities.Following a pre-site study using the French Remotely Operated Vehicle "VICTOR 6000" in summer 1999, we established the first long-term station in polar deep-sea regions in the western Fram Strait off Spitsbergen. The AWI-Hausgarten consists of nine stations along a depth gradient from 1000 to 5500m and a latitudinal transect of seven stations starting in the north at the margin of the sea ice. There is also an experimental area at the central station (2500m) for long-term experiments to study the effect of different substrates, nutrient enrichment and predator exclusion on benthic activity and diversity. Here, we present the methods used during our annual visits to study seasonal and interannual variations in biological, geochemical and sedimentological parameters.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Marine Animal Ecology
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL7-From permafrost to deep sea in the Arctic