The oceans play a crucial role in shaping our planet and understanding its many complexities. In 2022, a fleet of state-of-the-art research vessels, set sail to uncover new discoveries and advancements in ocean science. Over the course of the year, 10 scientific campaigns were conducted, pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the ocean and its inhabitants. In this review, we take a look back at the t10 scientific campaigns of 2022, highlighting the significant achievements and findings made possible through the Eurofleets.
The Calypso project aimed to understand and predict the three-dimensional pathways through which water, carrying tracers and floating objects, is transported from the surface ocean to depths below the mixed layer. The project combined observations with process study models and predictive models to identify coherent 3D pathways and understand the physical processes involved in subduction. Drogues were released to identify eddies and areas of convergence at fronts where subduction may occur. The objective is to test and confirm the 3-D, time-evolving Lagrangian pathways theories.
The CABLE Campaign was divided into two legs, where two cruises were conducted to study the circulation and current structure of the Baltic Sea. The main objectives of the first leg included deploying current-meter moorings, wave buoys, and collecting nutrient samples, sediment samples and sediment cores. The cruise lasted 6 days and was funded by 4 days by Eurofleets+ and 2 days by FMI, but was impacted by strong wind and high waves. The main objectives of the second leg included recovering current-meter moorings, replacing wave buoys, conducting nutrient sampling and sediment collection, and replacing moorings in the H2O station. The second cruise lasted 7 days, funded by 4 days by Eurofleets+ and 1 day by DOMUSe, and 2 days by FMI. All planned activities were carried out, with weather allowing work to be done most of the time.
The GRACE cruise was conducted in the westernmost Mediterranean Morocco margin. It aimed to study the geological risks associated with the Ceuta Canyon and its surroundings, focusing on sedimentary processes, chronostratigraphy, oceanography, and biology using multibeam, Sparker, TOPAS, AUV data, sediment cores, CTD, hull-mounted ADCP, and moored ADCP. The results of the cruise will provide improved understanding of the Ceuta Canyon and its hazards, leading to better planning and management of coastal and submarine infrastructures and biological communities.
The TAlPro2022 fieldwork is part of the MedSHIP program, a regional component of the global hydrographic investigation program. The aim of the fieldwork was to repeat the survey of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Algero-Provencal basin to increase the number of observations and collect data on the thermohaline properties, carbon and oxygen storage, anthropogenic carbon uptake, ventilation of water masses, particulate size spectrum and zooplankton species. The addition of data collected by ARGO floats, Underwater Vision Profiler and radionuclides provides additional information. Early results suggest that the Tyrrhenian Sea is more ventilated and filling up with SF6, while the deep Algero-Provencal basin has returned to its pre-Western Mediterranean Transition state with higher heat and salt contents.
The SENERGY Campaign aimed to study the relationship between seabirds and their prey. The project focused on measuring the number, size, and behavior of prey in western Iceland, and then comparing the theoretically optimal habitats for foraging seabirds to the actual habitats used by seabirds at sea. The goal was to determine if the distribution of seabirds is driven by prey availability or biomass, and if habitat can be used to predict seabird distribution.
The IODP cruise in the Uummannaq region of West Greenland aimed to study the plankton and nutrient dynamics in the fjords and their oceanographic drivers. A team of marine biologists, physical oceanographers, and engineers used proven oceanographic equipment and emerging technologies, such as conductivity-temperature-depth profilers, microstructure profilers, plankton nets, Niskin bottles, Fast Repetition Rate Fluorometers, and imaging sensors such as Video Plankton Recorder and CoastalVision to gather data. The team sailed from the shelf edge towards the head of the fjords or until ice blocks their way.
The FIGURE project focused on understanding the role of fine scales in shaping the nitrogen fixation by marine microbes called diazotrophs. It aimed to characterize the dynamic seawater structures, diazotroph diversity and activity, and their effect on nitrogen inputs to the ocean. The project used a combination of physical and biological measurements, molecular biology methods, and high sensitivity trace gas analysis. The goal was to advance our knowledge of the ocean’s potential to absorb CO2 and provide new tools and approaches for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The CARBO-ACID Campaign was focused on investigating the potential effects of ocean acidification on carbonate marine organisms along the Iberian margin. During the cruise, oceanographic data and water, plankton, cold-water corals, and sediment samples were collected during an upwelling season along two transects. The focus was on studying the trends in seawater pH in this seasonal coastal upwelling region over time, comparing the differences under different forcings, and estimating the amplitude of future changes in the ocean with regards to CO2 biogeochemistry and the response of marine biota. The study also examined the impact of upwelling on the Mg/Ca ratios of Globigerina bulloides collected from surface sediments, with a focus on those closer to the coast where upwelling is strong.
The GLICE project conducted a study to investigate the impact of icebergs on pelagic processes in Disko Bay in August 2022. The study used a combination of sensors and opportunistic sampling to measure parameters such as salinity, temperature, chlorophyll, turbidity, carbonate chemistry, macronutrients, and current flow. The focus of the study was on the upper 100 m of the water column, where the strongest changes in parameters due to ice melt were expected. The team used a statistical approach and sampled pre-defined transects across the bay, focusing on areas with high and low ice/melt water distributions. Process studies were also conducted to track 3 large icebergs, to investigate short-term dynamics, and to incubate ambient seawater with iceberg melt and/or sediment. The goal was to increase understanding of how ice melt affects marine biogeochemistry.
The SINES Campaign aimed to understand the impact of climate change on upwelling fronts and their effects on marine ecosystem services. To achieve this, the researchers collected full-depth water column CTD profiles at 15 stations through 19 CTD casts, including four stations with double casts (shallow and deep). A multinet haul was also collected at 12 stations, and a Light Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LAUV Explore-4) was deployed to conduct high-resolution immersion profiles between the surface and 10/50/100 m depth. These data collections will provide insights into the changes and risks for marine ecosystem services.
In conclusion, the 10 scientific campaigns of 2022 have made significant strides in our understanding of the ocean and its inhabitants, and we can expect further breakthroughs in the future as we continue to analise the collected data and study this vast and important part of our planet.