Status of the North Water Polynya


“North Water Polynya Conference” takes place from 22 November to 24 November 2017 in Copenhagen. During the conference, 80 conference participants, primarily scientists from Greenland, Denmark and Canada, will present and discuss the status of the marine ecosystem in the North Water Polynya in Smith Sound between North-Greenland and Canada. The most recent research results will be presented and future research needs identified. Representatives for catchers in the area as well as Greenlandic, Canadian and Danish authorities will participate in the discussion of possible future research objectives.

The North Water Polynya has huge significance to the wildlife and the ecological system in the region. Greenland´s few polynyas have been identified as vulnerable areas that need greater attention than other marine areas.

Particularly climate change is in focus. Periods with fast ice around the North Water Polynya have become fewer and shorter, and more drift ice come to the polynya. If the North Water Polynya disappears as a stabile phenomenon, what will happen to the wildlife? This is one of the questions that will be thoroughly discussed during the conference.

The key themes of the conference are:

  • Climate change over the last 4000 years
  • Physical oceanography, sea/ice-dynamics and stability of the polynya
  • Marine productivity and studies of food webs
  • Populations of marine mammals, birds and fish and assessment of the sustainability of current use of living resources, as well as new potentials
  • Contaminants, sources, impacts and trends
  • Marine traffic, and the mining, oil and gas industries.

The conference is organised by Aarhus University and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and is intended to result in a white book on the status and trends of the North Water Polynya, to be used in the future planning of management and climate adaptation in the area.

An explanation (in Danish) of the polynya can be read here: Link

Learn more about the polynya from the conference website:

For further information, please contact:

Head of Research and Advisory Anders Mosbech, Arctic Research Center, Aarhus University (phone +45 29440203 or e-mail:

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