The LTER observatory HAUSGARTEN

Ecological time-series work in the transition zone between the North-Atlantic and the central Arctic Ocean

The marine Arctic has played an essential role in the history of our planet over the past 130 million years and contributes considerably to the present functioning of the Earth and its life. The past decades have seen remarkable changes in key properties of the Arctic Ocean, including a decrease in sea-ice thickness and sea-ice extent, changes in temperature and salinity, and associated shifts in nutrient distributions. Since arctic organisms are highly adapted to extreme environmental conditions with strong seasonal forcing, the accelerating rate of recent climate change challenges the resilience of arctic life. The stability of a number of arctic populations and ecosystems is probably not strong enough to withstand the environmental changes, which might lead to a collapse of subsystems.

The multidisciplinary LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) observatory HAUSGARTEN conducts research on the effects of climate change on the marine Arctic ecosystem. HAUSGARTEN is located in the Fram Strait between northeast Greenland and the Svalbard archipelago, the only deep-water connection between the Nordic Seas and the central Arctic Ocean. The observatory includes 21 permanent sampling sites along a latitudinal (78,5°N – 80°N) and a bathymetric transect (250 – 5500 m water depth) crossing the strait. Multidisciplinary research activities at HAUSGARTEN cover almost all compartments of the marine ecosystem from the pelagic zone to the benthic realm. Since the observatory was established in 1999, regular sampling was conducted as well as the deployment of moorings and different stationary and mobile free-falling systems (Bottom-Lander, Benthic Crawler), which act as local observation platforms. Frequent visual observations with towed photo/video systems allow the assessment of large-scale faunal distribution patterns as well as their temporal development.

Research questions

  • How does ecosystem structure and functioning in the Arctic Ocean change on seasonal to decadal time-scales in an overall warming Arctic?
  • Are we able to distinguish between natural and Climate Change induced environmental variations (i.e. air and water temperature increase, sea-ice thinning and retreat, ocean acidification)?
  • How will the marine Arctic Ocean develop under different climate scenarios?


  • Annual sensing and sampling in the water column (zoo-/phytoplankton, bacteria, abiotic/biotic parameters) with water samplers, different nets, and optical systems, as well as investigations at the seafloor (bacteria, meio-/macro-/megafauna, biogenic sediment compounds) with various grabs and camera system
  • Stationary (moorings, free-falling systems), towed (camera systems), and autonomous mobile (AUV, crawler) scientific platforms in the water column and at the seafloor, equipped with sensors, cameras, sampling tools, and experimental systems
  • Biological long-term experiments at the seafloor using Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) to assess effects of climate change induced environmental changes

Responsible persons

Dr. Thomas Soltwedel, AWI

Dr. Christiane Hasemann, AWI

Dr. Eva-Maria Nöthig, AWI

Dr. Katja Metfies, AWI

Projects we participate in


Frontiers in Arctic marine Monitoring


Integrated Arctic Observation System


High Arctic Ocean Observation System
Web site to be established


Autonomous Robotic Networks to Help Modern Societies


Life in the deep – microbes of the abyss


Integrated Carbon Observation System


Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System


German Long-Term Ecological Research Network