Couldn’t help but noticing the skewed numbers presented to the faculty board for natural sciences, UiB today… 75% of the permanent scientific staff hired last year were men, five out of six ERC consolidator grant to UiB in 2023 were won by men… at the same time, six out of seven ETPs (Excellent Teaching Practitions) announced by our faculty this spring were women… and so were eight out of ten board members present…
The temperature has been rising slowly since I arrived at the conference hall; there are too many people and too little oxygen. Trying the get through the crowd and back to my poster on the effects of climate change on Norwegian sill fjords, I can’t help but think of all the dead crabs I saw in one of the presentations this morning. In an attempt to escape the anoxic waters at the bottom, they were concentrating on the highest point of the coral reef, climbing desperately on top of each other to get into oxygenated water, to breathe – but as the deadly water expanded, there where nowhere to go, no higher ground to climb to.
There is so much knowledge gathered in Bergen this week: PhDs, Post Docs, and Professors; experts on every aspect of the ocean and those living there. Ecosystem modeling, fish behavior, ocean acidification, primary production, sustainable management – the program is full of new science, new insights, and conclusions. Yet I’m wondering if they – if we – are able to fully grasp the consequences of the results presented. Because if we did, would we then be standing here, calmly sipping our wine or a cold beer, talking about project proposals, fieldwork plans, and old colleagues? If we did understand, would we not be out on the streets screaming, calling for attention, for help?
When being in a lecture hall at a conference I’m used to being surrounded by men – a few female collegues would typically be sitting in the chairs closest by, but further away, mainly men.
Strangely enough, when attending UiB’s conference on Gender equity, the mean hair length in the audience is significantly higher than I’m used to. The line of (very interesting) speaker has also (until now) been exclusively female…. I’ll leave you to think about why that is, and share my favorite slide so far:
It’s here! The translated and “peer-reviewed” version of “Ninja goes south” is now printed… and about 2000 books are waiting (together with Petra Langebroek’s “Ninja goes to Groenland”) in the basement of the Bjerknes Centre to be distributed to school libraries in Vestland (as soon as the third and final book* is ready).
The project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council – and Petra and I are getting help from the communication office at Bjerknes, the “climate club” at Landås skole, Bergen municipality, and of course, the invaluable assistance from UiB-student Marte Klemetsdal, who is putting it all together!
I’m so excited to see this come through, and to actually hold the physical book in my hands! Slightly less excited about the typos that my daughter found in the book… but fingers crossed for a second edition where we can correct those – and there might be one! Bryggen museum has picked up on the Lego idea, and they are planning an exhibition later this year where Ninja (and I) will be part of a historical walk through Bergen and its scientific hubs. Ninja in a museum monter – I do look forward to seeing that!
* where Ninja dives into the Norwegian fjords
While on sabbatical in France, I finally had the time to read all (or at least most of) the papers in my “looks_interesting”-folder on the desktop… one of them was “Warm Circumpolar Deep Water transport toward Antarctica driven by local dense water export in canyons” by Morrison et al (2020). The title tells it all: their model results showed that where cold, dense water flows down the slope, warm water was flowing in the opposite direction, i.e. up the slope and onto the continental shelf! About half-way through the paper, where the authors stated that they were “unaware of direct observations that can be analyzed to test our modeling results”, I stopped reading – not because the paper was not interesting, but because I was aware of such observations!
During my PhD (a decade and a half ago!) I worked with “local dense water export in canyons” and I knew very well that a ridge downstream of the Filchner Trough in the southern Weddell Sea is steering dense water down the slope – I also knew that this is a (relatively) well-sampled region of the Southern ocean… would the old (and not so old) data show the upslope flow of warm water suggested by the model?
I had just spent time downloading and organizing Southern Weddell Sea CTD-data from data bases and archives for another project, so I was set to go… and it did not took long before I sent an e-mail with figures to Jean Baptiste Sallée (whom I was visiting at LOCEAN in Paris) asking if he was in. It all fitted together so nicely – the temperature-profiles collected over the last fifty (!) years clearly showed that, above the slope, we found warm water higher up in the water column in the vicinity of the ridge than elsewhere. Water on the continental shelf in that region was warmer than the warm water intrusions further the east. While I had studied mooring data from the region for months, if not years, to learn about the flow of dense water on the slope, I had never really cared to look at the records from the instruments higher up, those that were placed above the dense plume. Now, these were the ones that mattered – and sure enough, the mean current had an up-slope component! We had observational evidence supporting the mechanism suggested by the numerical model! It took us a while to write it up – and some extra analysis and modelling to convince the reviewers – but the paper was finally published in Nature communications earlier today: “Observational evidence for on-shelf heat transport driven by dense water export in the Weddell Sea”!
Ninja has been on a new adventure! This time he joined me on the bike down to Landås skole and their “Climate club“ to hear what pupils in 6th grade had to say about “Ninja goes south“. We have now translated the book into Norwegian (thanks Marthe!), and I was eager – and a bit nervous! – to hear what the 65 “reviewers” had to say about it! In class last week they had all read, discussed and written about the book; what words did they not understand, what parts did they like best, what parts could be shortened and what did they want to know more about… While there were a few critical reviews (who either did not care about Ninjas and therefor found the book utterly boring, or who did care about Ninjas but found this Ninja not to be enough Ninja-like) most of them were very positive: We loved the pancakes! Can you write more books, please? We learnt a lot about ice shelves / seals / Antarctica / moorings.
I think an editor would have landed on “minor revision”… so I’m now re-working the book with their comments in mind: less text in each “bubble”, more information about the seals, explain these words and so on…. Fingers crossed that the next version will be accepted!
The classes seemed convinced the book will be a success – and, for the first time in my life – I was asked to write autographs! There was even a queue!!!
While visiting – I took the opportunity to introduced the ice-shelf game “Iceflows” (don’t blame me if you get addicted) …
…and off course to do my all time favorite melt-ice-cubes-in-salt-and-fresh-water-experiment!
Delayed funding, frozen grants… extra work, worry, uncertainty, and frustration… that’s just what I needed!
I haven’t managed to completely grasp the entire story and the background of the RCN* budget issues – as I’ve been busy trying to handle its direct consequences… how to get that student abroad to acquire the experience and access the labs he needs for his work when the mobility grant we were counting on is stopped? What about the instrumentation we were about to buy for TONe? the contract with the producer that we signed just before the red light was turned on over in Oslo? Can we still get it – and when? will it make the shipping deadline this autumn or will everything be delayed by a year? Or two or three? And what to prioritize – my instrumentation, or that of my colleague?
Those problems will most likely be solved – in one way or another – but what about my soft-money colleagues (and friends!) who depend on the calls and funding that is now being reduced, postponed, or removed? How many of them will have to leave science? Leave Norway?
Read more here: in English /
* Research Council of Norway, which allocates money for research and innovation in Norway.
What can be more suitable when Norwegian&Swedish royalties visit a new Swedish research ship than to have Irina from University of Gothenburg tell them about the Norwegian-Swedish collaboration in FJO2RD? Håkon (the Norwegian crown prince) didn’t know where Masfjorden&Lurefjord were located, but now he does! – and I bet Irina taught him a thing or two on foraminifera and fjord de-oxygenation too!
Well done Irina – we’re happy to have you on the team!
I’ve headed north to Tromsø (where winter and snow is still hanging around town but where the sun is up almost 24h a day!) to be part of the kick-off meeting for TONe, a large infrastructure project. In short – the Norwegian Research Council is paying for a lot of fancy and exciting instrumentation that is to be installed at and around the Norwegian research station Troll in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica.
Over the coming years, the Norwegian Polar Institute (who runs the station) and friends will install instruments to observe everything from the ionosphere&southern lights to seismic activity, pollution and birds.
I’ll be involved in two observatories: FIO (Fimbul Iceshelf Observatory) and MOMO (Multidisciplinary Ocean Moored Observatory). In FIO, we will drill through a few hundreds of meters of ice to renew the moorings under the Fimbul Ice shelf. These were installed in 2009 and they are still running! We will also put moorings on the continental slope north of the ice shelf (MOMO) so that we can connect what happens in the ocean with what’s happening in the cavity. I look forward to a lot of data – and a continued collaboration with Tore, Laura & Co in Tromsø!