Sixty-five (small) reviewers!

Ninja and Dr. Elin visiting Landås skole (Photo: E. Darelius)

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!!!

Writing autographs for the first time in my life! Photo: Endre Tufteland

While visiting – I took the opportunity to introduced the ice-shelf game “Iceflows” (don’t blame me if you get addicted) …

Make your own iceshelf at Photo: Endre Tufteland

…and off course to do my all time favorite melt-ice-cubes-in-salt-and-fresh-water-experiment!

The experiment with melting ice cubes works equally well at the Norwegian Academy of Science as on Landås skole! Photo: Endre Tufteland







Thank you Mr Moe!

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’s happening?




Royalties on board!!

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!

Irina gives a royal lecture in paleo&fjord oceanography. Photo: Annika Wall

Well done Irina – we’re happy to have you on the team!


Troll Observing Network (Tone)

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. 

NP – director Ole Arve opens the kick-off meeting for TONe.

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!


Tore (Norwegian Polar Institute) presents FIO&MOMO


UiB science festival: OPPLEV (23/4)

On Saturday, 23/4 science and curious citizens of Bergen will occupy Marinerholmen in Bergen where the fair “OPPLEV” will take place. Together with the FJO2RD and CLIFORD team from the Bjerknes center I will use a fortune wheel, Lego, and candy fish to explain and illustrate deepwater renewals and de-oxygenation in Norwegian fjords… want to find out how? Then join us at Marinerholmen! (or stay tuned for an upcoming report here later!)


Disappointing zeros

Last summer, we were excited to learn that the deep water of Masfjorden had finally been renewed – the deep fjord basin was replenished with new, oxygen-rich water, making it a much better place for fish to swim around in. We were equally excited when we headed up to the fjord last week (together with the paleo oceanographers), to recover the moorings that have been standing on the sill and in the deep basin for almost a year now. We were finally to learn more about when and how the renewal actually occurred!

The moorings were recovered without problems, and all looked good until Algot was to display the data on the screen. Were we expected to see the wiggly line displaying the current-meter record, revealing the strength and length of the renewal episode – there was only a straight line. Zero. A whole year of zeros, nothing but zeros. All the other sensors worked fine… but for some, still unknown reason, the velocity record was missing… the one record I had looked so much forward to seeing!

Mooring deployment in Lurefjorden – blissfully unaware about all the zeros waiting for us in Masfjorden…
The much-disappointing velocity record from Masfjorden
When it rains, it pours….

When it rains, it pours – especially if you are in Bergen. The second disappointment was waiting for a bit further into the fjord – one of the instruments that were supposed to record oxygen concentrations (and salinity and temperature) had leaked through a defect connector. The instrument (which is quite expensive) is ruined and the data is gone…

I guess we will just have to hang around another ten years or so for the next deep water renewal in Masfjorden 🙁


Mud, mud and… more mud!

Snow, rain, and wind… the weather forecast was everything but promising when I left Bergen harbor together with a team of excited scientists last week onboard Kristine Bonnevie, our research ship. She headed northward towards the nearby fjords “Lurefjorden” and good old “Masfjorden.” The gear on deck was slightly different from what I am used to; the familiar mooring buoys and instruments boxes were accompanied by what I soon learned is called a “multi-corer” and a “gravity corer.”


The multi-corer is on its way out

These strange-looking creations are designed to collect mud – or sediments – from the ocean floor. As the sediment deposits chronologically, one layer at a time, they form an archive of the past. The deeper into the sediments you dive, the further back in time you go. Remnants of marine life deposited on the bottom – microscopic shells from foraminifera, for example – have incorporated information about the ocean properties at the time when they were living. Advanced bio-geochemical analyses can bring that information back. Or you can identify the shells – different species thrive in different conditions, some when there’s a lot of oxygen in the basin, others when there is little. If you know how to interpret the signals – you can turn what to most people looks just like mud into a historical record of fjord hydrography and learn how the oxygen concentration in the fjord basins has changed in time. To me, mud is mud, but luckily, we had Irina, Stijn, Agnes, and Dag-Inge, on board. They are paleo-oceanographers; they know how to turn mud into exciting science!

I almost forgot Mattia – our fresh PhD-student who arrived a couple of weeks ago to chilly and rainy Bergen from sunny Sicily. He will be working with the mud for the next three years.

Agnes & Mattia inspecting one of the sediment cores from Lurefjorden
It looks wet out there!
Ninja also got to play in the mud!
The best team! Stijn, Agnes, me, Dag Inge, Torunn, Mattia, Irina, Kristin and Algot



THE OCEANOGRAPHY CLASSROOM: Co-Creating Learning in Oceanography

Want to know how to involve students in the design of your oceanography class and to “co-create learning”  – then read Mirjam and Kjersti’s recent paper “Co-Creating Learning in Oceanography“. They explain how to climb the ladder from “teacher controls everything” towards “student-staff partnership”, where the students have full control of their own learning. How far up the ladder you want to climb is up to you – and the students – but Mirjam and Kjersti give easy-to-include and adapt examples all along the way!

I’ll be teaching again this spring – helping Mari with the course in fjord oceanography – we’ll see where on the ladder we end up, but it sounds like a good idea to have the students determine the topic of their term papers based on keywords that Mari and I provide!


Post-defense thoughts

So – the defense is over – Eli did a splendid job presenting and defending her thesis and she can now put a “Dr” in front of her name! Congratulations Dr. Børve!

I’m happy with my contribution – although I keep wondering when I will stop being nervous (Eli on the other hand didn’t seem nervous at all, but “calm as a fridge”, as we would say in Swedish). I do realize that being nervous is such a waste of energy – but how do you stop?

Afterward, I found an e-mail from a colleague who had watched the defense in my inbox, telling me he thought I had done a good job. That one line was very much appreciated – we should write more e-mails like that!

Tides and transport – opponent for the first time!

Tomorrow, Eli Børve (UiO) is defending her PhD-thesis “Tides and Transport: Application to Lofoten and Vesterålen, Northern Norway” and – for the very first time I’ll be standing “on the other side”, as an opponent. Or standing –  I guess I’ll be sitting, in front of zoom… without flowers, Champagne, proud parents, and everything else that normally comes with a PhD-defense….

Eli has done an impressive job during the last couple of years, working with high-resolution models to study non-linear effects of tidal flow in the many straits of the Lofoten archipelago. I’ve learned a lot while reading her thesis, and I can assure you that it is much more exciting than it may sound! If the tidal current is strong enough, and if the strait opening is abrupt enough – then two vortices may form, one on each side of the strait, that “auto-propagate” (i.e. they move faster than the background tidal current) far enough from the strait opening that they are not caught by the currents when the tide turn. When this process (“tidal pumping”) is at play the transport through the strait, from e.g. the spawning ground of Cod on one side to the open ocean on the other side, is much greater than if the tides were just moving the same water back and forth… pretty cool!

From: Nøst & Børve, Ocean Science 17(5) (2021). Available via license: CC BY 4.0

Much of Eli’s work is already published – and I’m sure she will do just fine tomorrow!

Hopefully, I’ll do too… although I’m admittedly a bit nervous!

(and if you want to learn more about tidal effects on ice shelf melt in Antarctica (guess who came up with the topic!) – then have a look at Eli’s trial lecture here! )