With the shrinking of the polar ice caps, places like the Arctic Ocean and the Barents Sea are attracting more attention from shippers, oil companies and the like. In recognition of this (and partly to explore the region to let out oil and gas leases on the Norwegian Continental Shelf), the Norwegian government has been funding this enormous mapping and exploration project in the Barents Sea, called the MAREANO project.
Since their first mapping year in 2006, the project has discovered cold water coral reefs,
photographed marine life at a depth of 2700 meters and documented the effects of trawling on marine life on the Barents Sea bottom.
There’s an impressive collection of pictures on this site, which should disabuse anyone of the idea that the cold waters of the Barents Sea are barren. They’re not. The shrimp pictured at the top of this post is from 2700 meters, and then there’s this jellyfish that no one has ever identified before from 1000 meters. You can also create your own maps showing areas where there are vulnerable natural resources and the like.
All of this info feeds into the Norwegian Management Plan for the Barents Sea, and may also play a role in future CO2 management — one study of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and in the Southern Barents Sea estimated the storage capacity of these areas, in the depth interval 0.8-4 km below sea level, at about 13 Gt (that’s 13 000 000 000 tons for people like me who don’t think in gigatons) CO2 in geological traps (outside hydrocarbon fields), while the storage
capacity in aquifers not confined to traps is estimated to be at least 280 Gt CO2.