Few things are as important to humanity as healthy oceans. They produce not only food that we eat, but also a large part of the oxygen we breathe. Umeå University has an extensive marine research program, and Umeå Marine Sciences Centre acts as a node for this. Today, 8 June, we celebrate World Ocean Day with our research and monitoring efforts focused on protecting our oceans.
Text: Kristina Viklund
Umeå Marine Sciences Centre staff Anna Palmbo Bergman, Åsa Hallberg, Nick Kamenos, Johan Wikner, Kristina Viklund and Siv Huseby celebrate World Ocean Day.
ImageKarin Cars / Kustbevakningen
The calm that prevails at Umeå Marine Research Center today points to febrile research and monitoring activity. A large part of our staff is busy sampling at sea on board ships and boats to better understand the fate of our oceans and seas.
In the Bothnian Sea, water sampling is ongoing, to keep track of everything from nutrients to algae and zooplankton. Staff from Umeå Marine Sciences Centre are on board KBV 181, a combined environmental protection and research vessel, taking samples from all over the Gulf of Bothnia and analyzing these directly in our on-board laboratory. The work is carried out in collaboration with the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management as part of the Swedish environmental monitoring.
Mikael Peedu, marine biologist at Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, handles a sample of sediment from the sea bottom.
"We take samples all year round and examine the environmental status of the Gulf of Bothnia. The results are used to measure how well Sweden is living up to its environmental goals," says Siv Huseby, environmental analyst at Umeå Marine Research Centre.
At the same time, sampling of benthic fauna is underway in the Gulf of Bothnia, also in collaboration with the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. The benthic organisms investigated are important indicators of both environmental toxins and eutrophication and are therefore key species for detecting seabed health. This year's sampling is coming to its end, and then months of sorting and weighing worms, crustaceans, mussels, and gastropods remain.
Researchers from the Chemistry Department, Umeå University, test a method to clean contaminated sediments.
The marine research that is ongoing at Umeå University spans a variety of areas, mostly in chemistry, biology, and ecology. Nick Kamenos is a new professor in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science and is the newly appointed director of the Umeå Marine Sciences Centre. He looks forward to being involved in further developing marine research at Umeå University.
“I see Umeå Marine Sciences Centre as an excellent platform for understanding the impact of both climate change and other anthropogenic activities on our oceans, and, in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. These areas are projected to warm three times faster than other oceans on Earth over the coming century, so they act as the sentinels of ocean health in our changing world”.
Nick has begun collaborating with Agneta Andersson, also a professor at the same department. She is the scientific leader of the strategic research program EcoChange, which focuses on the impact of climate change on the Baltic Sea. After ten years of working within EcoChange, she sees the importance of strong marine research in constant development.
"The marine environment is exposed to so many environmental threats, and the problems are constantly ongoing and changing. Climate change poses a real threat to the balance of the ecosystem, and disturbances have effects throughout the food web, right up to us humans. Therefore, vigorous and continuous research is needed."