Inspiring fieldwork supported by the RGS-IBG

This expedition occurred during March 2010 and April 2010 at a Sea Ice Station 78°N and 104°W in the Canadian High Arctic.

The research aimed to investigate the impact of ocean acidification on biogeochemical cycling through sea ice, and how this affects Arctic marine communities. The research focused on certain characteristics of the Arctic Ocean, specifically the carbon chemistry, nutrient content and biological communities inhabiting the ocean.

Research techniques
Data were collected by cutting square metre holes in sea ice up to five metres thick, through which water samples were collected using oceanographic instruments. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were also measured over a 45 day period. Back in the lab in the UK, the water samples were analysed to measure levels of minerals and ions, organic matter, light levels, levels of chlorophyll and the numbers / DNA of microorganisms living in the water.


  • To determine how the carbon chemistry, nutrient content and biological communities of the Arctic Ocean might change in different physical and chemical conditions
  • To consider how biological communities might respond to ocean acidification. Will they survive?
  • To understand how carbon dioxide transfers from the atmosphere to the ocean. This affects how ocean acidification happens in the future

Key topics and themes

  • Evidence for climate change: scientific research as a means of providing evidence for climate change on the short, medium and long term
  • Impacts of climate change: the direct impacts of global warming on vulnerable and fragile environments and ecosystems
  • Ocean acidification: the process and implications of an increase in the acidity of sea water, including the impact on ecosystems and biological communities

The researcher

Dr Helen Findlay is the Lord Kingsland Fellow at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Helen received the Society’s Ralph Brown Expedition Award in 2010 to support her work on ocean acidification in the Arctic.

Royal Geographical Society. Web site and materials.

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OA-ICC Highlights

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