Cruise 2: Arctic

Visit the Arctic Ocean Acidification Cruise website for further information (

Read the Arctic Cruise diary/blog


The global ocean naturally acts as a reservoir for carbon dioxide (CO2) and has absorbed about a third of the total CO2 produced by human activities in the past 200 years. This uptake of CO2 has greatly slowed the rate of human-driven climate change. It is also responsible for major changes to ocean chemistry, known as ocean acidification, with potentially serious implications for marine life.

Polar seas, such as the Arctic Ocean, are expected to be especially sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification, since more CO2 dissolves in cold water, making Arctic waters a valuable “real world” example of how the marine environment will respond to a high CO2 world. Also the sensitivity of surface seawater in the Arctic will mean that they become corrosive to calcium carbonate before anywhere else in the world, which could pose a problem for marine plankton and other organisms that use calcium carbonate for their shells or skeletons.

JR271 Arctic Cruise 1 June - 4 July 2012

As the UK approaches summer, a team of adventurous scientists will be setting sail for far chillier climes. 30 researchers from eight laboratories will leave the UK on 1st June 2012 to study the effect of ocean acidification on the Norwegian, Barents and Greenland Seas.  They will travel as far north as polar ice will allow, collecting seawater samples from both the open water and gaps in the sea-ice

During the expedition, the scientists will study the impact of the changing chemistry on marine organisms and ecosystems, the cycling of carbon and nutrients in the sea and how the sea interacts with the atmosphere to influence climate.

To achieve this two approaches will be used.  Firstly, the researchers will look at how ecosystems vary between places where the chemistry of seawater is naturally more acidic or alkaline. By contrasting the observations over a range of different conditions, insights will be provided on how acidification may affect organisms living in their natural environment, where natural selection and adaptation have had time to play out.

The second approach is experimental, using tanks of natural seawater collected from the upper ocean and brought into controlled conditions on deck. This natural seawater will be subjected to various levels of carbon dioxide that are likely to occur in the future.

The expedition, aboard the RRS James Clark Ross, will end on 4th July, in Reykjavik, Iceland.


Read and download the Arctic Cruise 2012 booklet
Read and download the JR271 Cruise Report
Read and download the JR271 Physical Oceanography Analysis


Cruise Participants

British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
Geraint Tarling   Vicki Peck    Seth Thomas    Luke Collins
Marine Biological Association (MBA)
Cecilia Balestreri
National Oceanography Centre (NOC)University of Southampton
Eric Achterberg    Eithne Tynan        Gianna Battaglia                      Sara Fowell,     Mariana Ribas Ribas   Matthew Humphreys Victoire Rerolle    Tingting Shi     Mark Moore    Sophie Richier       Tiera–Brandy Colleen Robinson     Jeff Benson
National Oceanography Centre (NOC) – NERC
Alex Poulton         Fred Le Moigne          Sinhue Torres-Valdes         Chris Daniels      Helen Smith         Mike Zubkov        Polly Hill         Ben Russell
Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)
Darren Clark     Ian Brown      John Stephens    Frances Hopkins
Scottish Association from Marine Science (SAMS)
Ray Leakey      Elaine Mitchell
University College London (UCL)
Jeremy Young
University of Essex
Laura Bretherton


The research is part of the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (UKOA), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).