It is late August and outside the Askö Laboratory bay a German research vessel has anchored. Time has come for the returning high-level international Baltic Sea course that Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde, IOW, and Stockholm University jointly organize. The course combines sampling and analysis on R/V Elisabeth Mann Borgese with lectures and data evaluation at the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre’s field station. 

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Learning a complex Baltic Sea

Maren Voss is a biogeochemical researcher of coastal oceans, and the German course leader. She says the main aim is to learn how the Baltic Sea really works. What biological, geological, and chemical processes play important roles in our marine environment? 

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- We collect both water- and sediment samples, look at phytoplankton, zooplankton and the benthic community. The human impact, that in many cases is prominent in the Baltic Sea, is studied along an eutrophication gradient in Himmerfjärden where it is possible to detect traces from a large sewage treatment plant, Maren explains.

Studies at sea and in the lab

The course participants seem extremely comfortable with working in a floating laboratory. Every student gets the opportunity to try advanced research equipment on board, even drive the CTD-rosette from a screen-filled control room. The system enables examination of how the water column is constituted. Its data and sampled water can be analysed to show how things like oxygen concentration and nutrient composition varies with depth.

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Since the course has access to the Askö Laboratory, half of the group is on the vessel, while the other half study, evaluate data or work on their projects at the field station.

- On Askö we continue our work and analyse samples from the ship. For example we examined our water samples to see what plankton species we had in them. Fortunately, we also have had some spare time to explore the beautiful island by bikes and try the sauna, says David Faró, master student from the University of Rostock.

Important collaboration

This year was the second year in a row that R/V Elisabeth Mann Borgese set course on Askö Laboratory. But the jointly organized Baltic Sea course is becoming a tradition, and already in year 2000 the first German vessel brought students to Askö Laboratory.

- This educational programme is a good example of an important collaboration across country borders that Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre wish to promote, says Christoph Humborg, Scientific Director at the centre. Not only does our infrastructure contribute to advanced Baltic Sea education, it also becomes a meeting point for younger scientists and a platform for future collaborations.

Watch the movie about the course on R/V Elisabeth Mann Borgese and Askö Laboratory, Click Play!