To ensure the comparability of monitoring data and to estimate seasonal and year-to-year variations in oceanographic variables, it was suggested in Stockholm as early as 1899 that measurements should be taken at standard depths in standard spatial areas (sections).
At the beginning of the 20th century, a monitoring program was initiated in the Kola Section of the Barents Sea (Knipovich 1906), and by the 1930s, a monitoring network had been developed in this area (Figure 3.2.1).
Figure 3.2.1. Positions of the standard sections monitored in the Barents Sea. A; is fixed station Ingøy, B is Fugløya-BearIsland, C is North cape-Bear Island, D is Vardø-North, E is Kola, F is Sem Island-North G is Kanin section and H is Bear Island-East section.
During the last 50 years regular monitoring of ecosystem components in the Barents Sea have been conducted both at sections and by area covering surveys from ships and airplanes. In addition, many long- and short-term special investigations — designed to study specific processes or knowledge gaps — have been conducted. Also, the quality of large hydrodynamic numeric models has reached a level which makes them useful to fill information gaps in time and space for some parameters. Satellite data and hind-cast global reanalysed datasets are also useful information sources.
Monitoring systems for ecosystem dynamics and human activities within the Barents Sea are based on existing time series of data collected by a number of Norwegian and Russian institutes. Contributions from different institutes to this monitoring effort are reflected in Tables 3.1.1-3.1.2.
Table 3.1.1 Contribution of different institutes to monitoring of the Barents Sea ecosystem (++ large effort, + some effort, - no effort).
Monitoring methods are often developed for one or several target species or ecosystem variables (e.g. temperature and salinity). Full use of various monitoring platform is essential to build up as broad a knowledge base as possible of ecosystem structure and variability. Therefore, monitoring programs are designed and conducted as broadly as possible to serve multiple uses. However, it is impossible to monitor all species (e.g. ~3000 species of benthos, ~200 species of fish, ~25 species of marine mammals, etc). Therefore, biological monitoring has historically been focused on the key species of commercial importance. In recent years, however, greater focus has been placed on species diversity and trophic interactions.
During the course of a year, a single ecosystem component (e.g., zooplankton) may be monitored using multiple measurement designs or platforms (e.g., transects, random surveys, fixed stations, etc). Therefore this chapter is basically divided into two parts. The first part describes monitoring “platforms”, in a broad sense (chapter 3.2). The second part describes monitoring from the perspective of a single ecosystem component (chapter 3.3).
It should be noted that even though institutions contributing to this report are responsible for most ecosystem monitoring conducted in the Barents Sea, others groups also are engaged in environmental monitoring in this region. This report basically focuses on monitoring programs conducted by contributing institutions.
Table 3.1.2. Contribution of different institutes to monitoring of the human activities in the Barents Sea and its impact on the ecosystem, related to the content of this report. (++ large effort, + some effort, - no effort)