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We study changes over time in methane release, ocean acidification, and concentration of CO2 and the associated benthic and planktic foraminiferal responses, as they relate to past changes in climate and ocean temperatures.


To understand the impact of methane release on past and present environments and climate, we study both modern environments by sampling living planktic and benthic foraminiferal faunas and past environments by examining the fossilized remains of once-living faunas, mostly from the seep sites around Svalbard. To better understand the processes and changes seen at methane release areas, we also reconstruct the general paleoceanography by the study of core sites from the Svalbard margin, the Barents Sea, the Nordic seas and Arctic Ocean. Some of our strategies for evaluating and recording such changes include examining isotopic records obtained by measuring the chemical makeup of foraminiferal shells from the water column, seabed, and sediment cores, as well as analyzing the increase or decrease of benthic and planktic foraminiferal communities and its species composition in methane seep locations today and many thousands of years back in time.

In addition, we investigate methane seep areas by annual and/or seasonal sampling in order to document changes in planktic foraminifera and related ocean chemistry changes over time. Methane released from the seabed rapidly oxidizes to CO2, which change the carbonate chemistry of the ambient water. This can potentially increase ocean acidification, which can have detrimental effects on the delicate ecosystem of underwater life. In addition, we monitor the planktic foraminiferal and pteropods response to ocean acidification by studding physical properties of their shells in the past and present.

Main questions

  • What is the impact of increased methane release on marine faunas?
  • Is there a relationship between this release and climate (ocean temperature) variability?
  • Does methane release contribute to ocean acidification?

Major aims

  • Investigate methane release in relation to past climate and ocean temperature changes
  • Apply multi-proxy techniques to reconstruct high-resolution climate and greenhouse gas records
  • Detect and quantify planktic foraminiferal and pteropods responses to changes in ocean chemistry due to methane release, increasing atmospheric CO2 and ocean warming.
  • Provide robust records useful for modelling and forecasting future changes as a result of ongoing changes in the polar ocean
Team members

Mohamed Ezat

Siri Ofstad
PhD candidate

Adele Westgård
PhD Candidate

Katarzyna Melaniuk
PhD Candidate

Thomas Chalk
Post Doctoral Fellow