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  • Writer's pictureAPECS Belgium

Little update from the CANOE campaign team

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

The CANOE team has been away a little while now, off the coast of Southern Greenland, studying the impacts of climate change on the nutrient cycle in Arctic fjords! Here's a little update from Cathrin Wittig, PhD student and scientist on board and member of APECS Belgium!


"On the way to Greenland we encountered an unexpected amount of icebergs this far south and we almost got stuck (!!!), but we saw some seals chilling on on of the ice pieces. When we finally managed to get out of the ice (by just letting ourselves drift along) we started sampling in the first fjord and finished that yesterday.

Photo credit: (ship) Jan Vanaverbeke, (seals) Bart Beuselinck.


I'm mostly stuck in the coldroom doing my incubations, but on deck the weather so far was really nice. The water looks really light blue (almost like you are in the tropics) and Greenland looks really green, so the Vikings actually didn't make a mistake in naming it like that (at least in my opinion). We also use unconventional sampling methods (for example we fill an empty water bottle we get from the kitchen with mud, so we can bring it back to belgium and analyze it there)

Photo credit: Cathrin Wittig, the little town is Qaqortoq.


As a more biology focused campaign, all sediment samples are sieved and directly sorted in the fishlab. We actually also collected some fish already and also deployed a hyperventhic sledge. All of it will be used for stable isotope analysis to establish the food web of the fjord.

Next to this we do anoxic/oxic slicing and pore water sampling for DIC,H2S and Alkalinity. Sulfate reduction is researched by spiking a core with 35S, incubating and then slicing it. In the coldroom I do my incubations on subcores from the boxcores (a chaos out of cables) to get an idea about benthic fluxes and correlate them with the macrofauna community present. Microprofiles are also taken.


Photo credit: Cathrin Wittig


This time we also have a pelagic team on board, sampling and operating the CTD (mostly filtering). As well as researching phytoplankton by sampling with a net. Sometimes it can be really tricky to find the right time for sediment work on deck, because they need the water column to be completely free of sediment. And even a little bit of sieving creates a sediment plume.


In the evening we mostly sit together and drink a cup of tea or alcohol free beer, before the day starts around 6-7 am with the CTD and pelagic work again.

Yesterday we tried to enter the second fjord with a marine terminating glacier, but sadly it was inaccessible due to too much ice. Today we tried our luck at a fjord nearby which is influenced by a marine and land terminating glacier and the sediment looked really promising."


Written by Cathrin Wittig, edited by Marie Cavitte

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