Annual changes in Arctic fjord environment and modern benthic foraminiferal fauna: Evidence from Kongsfjorden, Svalbard

Patrycja Jernas*, Dorthe Klitgaard-Kristensen, Katrine Husum, Nalan Koç, Vigdis Tverberg, Paul Loubere, Maarten Prins, Noortje Dijkstra, Marta Gluchowska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The relationships between modern Arctic benthic foraminifera and their ecological controls, along with their sensitivity to rapid environmental changes, is still poorly understood. This study examines how modern benthic foraminifera respond to annual environmental changes in the glaciated Arctic fjord Kongsfjorden, western Svalbard. Large environmental gradients due to the inflow of warm and saline Atlantic Water and the influence of tidewater glaciers characterise the fjord hydrography. A transect of six multi-corer stations, from the inner to the outer fjord, was sampled in the late summers of 2005 to 2008 to study the distribution of living (rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera. Physical properties of the water masses were measured concurrently. In general, nearly the entire Kongsfjorden region was dominated by ubiquitous N. labradorica foraminiferal assemblage that successfully exploited the local food resources and thrived particularly well in the presence of Atlantic-derived Transformed Atlantic Water (TAW). Further, the annual investigation revealed that Kongsfjorden underwent large interannual hydrological changes during the studied years related to variable inflow of warm and saline Atlantic Water. This led to a strong fauna variability particularly at the two marginal sites: the glacially influenced inner fjord and marine influenced shelf region. We also observed significant species shift from the ‘cold’ to ‘warm’ years and an expansion of widespread and sub-arctic to boreal species into the fjord.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-140
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Early online date16 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Article number: GLOBAL 2679 [?]


  • Annual changes
  • Arctic fjord
  • Atlantic water
  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Svalbard


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