Million kroner grant for Greenlandic aspiring scientist

03.11.18

Biologist Sascha Schiøtt from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources has received around 1.7 million Danish kroner for the completion of a PhD project in which she will survey the ecosystem in Ilulissat Icefjord.

Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation has donated the considerable amount, which will allow Sascha Schiøtt to start her PhD study programme at Arctic Research Centre at Aarhus University, where she has happily accepted her enrolment starting 1 November.

Sascha Schiøtt graduated in biology in 2017, presenting her thesis at the new Centre for Natural Sciences Education, and was afterwards employed by Pinngortitaleriffik. The subject of the thesis covers the ring seal and the halibut in Ilulissat Icefjord, and in connection with the PhD project she will continue studying the ecosystem here. Professor Søren Rysgaard will be main supervisor at Aarhus University, while senior researcher Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid will be supervisor at Pinngortitaleriffik.

The project will identify and survey the interaction between key species present in Ilulissat Icefjord. The major part of the study will take place in the southern branch and to some extent in the northern branch of the fjord system. The ring seal will be the main focus, as previous studies have shown that the ring seal in Ilulissat Icefjord does not tend to leave the fjord system. This means that it can be used to find out which species play a major role in the ecosystem throughout the year. Halibut is fished in large quantities in the area, and the importance of the ecosystem's impact on the halibut stock in the area is therefore emphasised.

Surveys from fjords at West Greenland have shown a correlation with a higher rate of landed halibut from fjords with glaciers that flow into in the sea. In addition, several studies from both Greenland, Canada and Svalbard have shown a plausible correlation with a higher productivity when it comes to both primary and secondary production in fjords with glaciers that flow into the sea. Ilulissat Icefjord is known to be one of the most productive fjord systems when it comes to icebergs on the west coast of Greenland. However, due to the many icebergs, only very few studies have been carried out inside the actual icefjord. Knowledge concerning the processes that take place within the fjord system is therefore limited.

Sascha Schiøtt’s PhD study programme will run three years.

For more information, please contact:

PhD student Sascha Schiøtt on phone +45 21200501 or email: sasc@natur.gl.

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Sascha Schiøtt. Photo: GINR