Drilling platform Deepsea Delta in the Barents Sea. Photo: Gazprom

Physical conditions in the Barents Sea are largely determined by three main water masses: Coastal Water, (North) Atlantic Water, and Arctic Water. These three water masses are linked to three different current systems: the Norwegian Coastal Current, the Atlantic Current, and the Arctic Current. Climatic variability is determined by their properties and the activity of inflowing Atlantic Water. Variations in activity of these currents may be explained by external forcing, but may also be a result of processes

Polar bear cubs are eating at seals cadaver.. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

The composition and migratory habits of living organisms in the Barents Sea are determined by the contrast of the environmental conditions between the Atlantic and the local water masses (Matishov 1986a). The food web has 5-6 trophic levels: phytoplankton → zooplankton → pelagic fish → demersal fish → sea birds → marine mammals (including polar bear Ursus maritimus). Species diversity is relatively high compared to other Arctic seas. A total of 3,245 faunal taxa have

Atom vessel arriving the North pole. Photo: boletin-imiq.org

The Barents Sea is strongly influenced by human activity: historically, involving the fishing and hunting of marine mammals. More recently, human activities also involve marine transport of goods, oil and gas, tourism, aquaculture, and bioprospecting. Fishing is believed to have the largest human impact on the fish stocks in the Barents Sea, and thereby on the functioning of the whole ecosystem. However, observed variations in both fished species and the ecosystem as a whole are also the effect