Field work and cruise at Lygra

Just a few weeks after the coast guard cruise we started to itch for some more field work. We were granted two days on the research vessel “Hans Brattstrøm” on June 20-21, and decided to visit the remarkable Lurefjorden, about an hour north of Bergen. This threshold fjord has very little water exchange with the ocean and is so dark that fish have been out-competed by jellyfish.

Deploying the LISST-package, consisting of the VSF and 200X instruments.

We measured water column profiles with the LISST instruments as well as with a CTD to a depth of 50m. Water samples were collected at the surface, near 50m and at chlorophyll max. The water temperature was 12-13 degrees Celcius, but that didn’t stop a few of the cruise-participants in going for a swim!

We ALWAYS measure the Secchi depth while on a cruise. Secchi depth varied between 7-9 meters in Lurefjorden. From left: Yi-Chun and Daniel.

The delegation was quite large this time, counting 9 people. In order to use a research vessel in Norway, the cruise leader must have a cruise leader course. Arne was supposed to take it in April, but was in Sri Lanka at the time. The next chance was in May, but mis-communication ruled that one out as well. In the end we needed to find a replacement cruise leader at short notice, and microbiologist Stefan Thiele volunteered. A big thanks to him! In addition to Arne and Stefan, Elinor Tessin, Børge Hamre, Håkon Sandven, Yi-Chun Chen, Daniel Koestner and Hongbo Liu participated from UiB. We were also joined by Mexican guest student Ximena A. Vega from University of Stirling in Scotland.

Ximena at the provisional filtration lab at the house.
Cruise leader Stefan Thiele.

The cruise started on the monday with perfect weather. Sunny and warm, and almost no wind. By the end of the day we noticed a special optical phenomenon around the sun – a halo. This is caused by ice crystals, and weather folklore has for hundreds of years interpreted halos as a precursor for rainfall. Unfortunately we could not find evidence against this, as the tuesday was dominated by heavy rain from morning to afternoon. At least we did not bring the Regatta-suits in vain!

A nice halo around the sun. A sign of rain to come?
The rain most certainly came. But the Regatta-suits kept us warm and dry. From left: Ximena, Elinor and Arne.

Since “Hans Brattstrøm” only has two cabins, we rented an old house on the island of Lygra. This island is covered in heathland, and is home to plenty of sheep, cows and numerous species of birds. Beautiful surroundings for a great field trip!

Lyngheisenteret on Lygra received UNESCOs global cultural landscape prize in 2001, and is run as farm and museum to preserve the heathland and old western Norwegian farming traditions. From left: Hongbo, Håkon, Elinor, Ximena and Daniel.

Cruise with the coast guard

Last year the EcoSens project went to Marifjøra in Sogn to investigate the green colored Gaupnefjorden. Its color comes from large amounts of meltwater from several nearby glaciers.

This year we hoped to find green colored water from an Emiliania huxleyi bloom. And the timing couldn’t have been better! We applied for cruise time with the coast guard in 2021, and were awarded 4 days from May 19-22. We got excited when satellite images showed the bloom had started a couple of weeks earlier, but were also worried it might end before we had a chance to go on the water. However, the bloom just kept increasing, and when it was time, Hardangerfjorden had “never” been greener! What luck!

Part of the team who went on the cruise with “KV Tor”. From left: Anna Mathea Skar, Børge Hamre, Elinor Tessin and Håkon Sandven.

A fast-going patrol boat (HPB) with a cruising speed of 35 knots picked up the researchers at Krokeide kai in the morning and transported them to «KV Tor», waiting at the first measuring station. The HPB and the light-boat «Sjøbjørn» were also used for deploying instruments at sub-stations for measuring scattering and absorption of light in the water.

What a beautiful sight. The boat in the picture is the fast-going patrol boat, belonging to the coast guard vessel “KV Tor”.

PI of EcoSens, Arne Skodvin Kristoffersen and PhD student Elinor Tessin enjoying life in the field.

Every day about 100 liters of water samples were collected for filtration at the lab back at the department. It will be very interesting to compare data from glacial meltwater to the algae bloom. Two very different particle types resulting in a quite similar color change of the western Norwegian fjord waters!

A satellite image of Hardangerfjorden with our measuring stations marked as yellow stars. The bloom was most intense near Rosendal, and we also measured near Austevoll for a comparison to water without a bloom.

The coast guard was very cooperative and took their “mission” very seriously. We were served delicious meals twice a day and were transported back to land in the evening. A very exciting and different week for us!

In addition to Kristoffersen and Tessin, the delegation consisted of Håkon Sandven, Børge Hamre, Yi-Chun Chen, HTEK-student Anna Mathea Skar and Espen Storheim from Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center.

New PhD student

Finally, on May 1st 2021, almost a year after the start of the project, Elinor Tessin started as a PhD student on the project. She is from Bonn, Germany, but did her master’s in Bergen at the department of Biological sciences.

Elinor enjoying the green view in Marifjøra

It was a struggle for her to enter Norway because of Covid regulations, but we found a “loophole” and sent her on a two week cruise organized by Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) with the coast guard vessel KV Svalbard – in the Svalbard area. She barely had a couple of days rest after finally arriving in Bergen before she joined the EcoSens project fieldwork in Marifjøra the following week. What a start to her PhD in Norway! Her role in the EcoSens project is mainly focused on remote sensing, and we are very excited to have her on board!