The Arctic is both an interesting and important area from which to observe climate change. In respect of changes in the ocean: what is happening to phytoplankton which forms the base of the food web? How can this be monitored and understood in the best way?

Tech-people and marine biologist joined forces in Ny-Ålesund research station in a big experiment this may 2022.

NTNU researchers from AMOS, the Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems, used small satellites and subsea robots — and everything in between — to study marine life in Svalbard’s Kongsfjorden in a first-ever experiment in May 2022 together with students at the UNIS course “Light and primary production in the Arctic”.

The approach they used is called an observational pyramid where you survey the same area simultaneously with a wide range of equipment from satelites to subsea robots. Over 40 scientist, technicians, and students collaborated in this campaign in Ny-Ålesund and got valuable information about how to conduct this kind of monitoring in addition to collecting samples for further investigations.

A graphic showing the observational pyramid, in which the same area is monitored at different levels at the same time. Illustration: Department of Engineering Cybernetics, NTNU

An example of how to use the observational pyramid is to survey normal and harmful algal blooms and the kinds of changes global warming is causing in the ocean in a more continuous way.

To read more about the campaign in Ny-Ålesund, read this article published by Live Oftedal at

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