Research project IceDivA “goes west” of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for the sequel!
The second such project this year, IceDivA2 (Icelandic marine Animals meets Diversity along latitudinal gradients
in the deep sea of the Atlantic Ocean 2) expedition is launched to record marine biodiversity in the Atlantic deep sea – this time west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
On 5th November 2021, a team of 27 scientists on board the German research vessel SONNE will set out on an expedition (IceDivA2 – SO286 (GPF 21-2_052)) west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic to study the diversity of marine organisms in the deep sea.
They intend to collect samples from the Icelandic Basin to the New Foundland Basin, via the Labrador Basin, at depths between
3,000 and 5,500 meters – whilst also using hydroacoustics to map the ocean floor. The team hopes that the IceDivA2 expedition will further the work of the IceDivA project, contributing to a
better understanding of the deep-sea biome across a wider scale.
By sampling Northwest Atlantic deep-sea basins, the IceDivA2 expedition aims to extend the previous Northeast Atlantic deep-sea programs, IceAGE (Icelandic marine
Animals: Genetics and Ecology) and IceDivA1, also linking with the South Atlantic deep-sea programme DIVA (Latitudinal Gradients in BioDIVersity in the deep Atlantic) and those in the Southern
Ocean. This will provide pan-Atlantic deep-sea samples to investigate topics regarding species richness and evolution. To map the species diversity, and answer questions on the connectivity of
deep-sea fauna along latitudinal gradients in the pan-Atlantic Ocean, depths between 3,000 m and 5,500 m will be sampled. The study area is of interest of the EU project iAtlantic, which studies
the health of ecosystems at the high seas and the deep-sea regions in the Atlantic Ocean. Once again, a contiguous and comprehensive mapping of the ocean floor by means of hydroacoustics is
an indispensable prerequisite for identifying habitats – one of the iAtlantic project’s primary tasks, and an equally important objective in the IceDivA project.
IceDivA2 will also host the PLASTISEA and HOTMIC projects for the study of marine plastic pollution. The North Atlantic is estimated to contain approximately 20% of
the global amount of floating plastic debris. The plastic samples will be collected visually from catches of the Neuston Catamaran, plankton, and EBS nets and analysed for their chemical
composition and origin, their biofilms assessed for the diversity, and functions of the colonizing microbial communities. Sediment cores and selected fauna will be fixed for later analysis of
their microplastic content, including for plastic indigestion by marine fauna.
Led by the team from Senckenberg am Meer, IceDivA2 involves 27 scientists from such institutions as the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), University of Lodz, GEOMAR, University of Hamburg, and University of Oldenburg, with collaborative partners on sure assisting worldwide. The expedition will begin in Emden on November 5th 2021 and will end in Las Palmas on 9th December 2021 after 5 weeks at sea.