The identification of macroalgal beds is a crucial component for the description of fjord ecosystems. Direct, biological sampling is still the most popular investigation technique but acoustic methods are becoming increasingly recognized as a very efficient tool for the assessment of benthic communities. In 2007 we carried out the first acoustic survey of the littoral areas in Kongsfjorden. A 2.68 km2 area comprised within a 12.40 km2 euphotic zone was mapped along the fjord's coast using single- and multi-beam echosounders. The singlebeam echosounder (SBES) proved to be a very efficient and reliable tool for macroalgae detection in Arctic conditions. The multibeam echosounder (MBES) was very useful in extending the SBES survey range, even though it's ability in discriminating benthic communities was limited. The final result of our investigation is a map of the macroalgae distribution around the fjord, showing 39% macroalgae coverage (1.09 km2) of investigated area between isobaths -0.70 m and -30 m. Zonation analysis showed that most of the studied macroalgae areas occur up to 15 m depth (93%). These results were confirmed by biological sampling and observation in key areas. The potential of acoustic imaging of macrophytes, and a proposed methodology for the processing of acoustic data, are presented in this paper along with preliminary studies on the acoustic reflectivity of macroalgae, also highlighting differences among species. These results can be applied to future monitoring of the evolution of kelp beds in different areas of the Arctic, and in the rest of the world.
Glacierized fjords are dynamic regions, with variable oceanographic conditions and complex ice−ocean interactions, which are still poorly understood. Recent studies have shown that passive underwater acoustics offers new promising tools in this branch of polar research. Here, we present results from two field campaigns, conducted in summer 2013 and spring 2014. Several recordings with a bespoke two−hydrophone acoustic buoy were made in different parts of Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen in the vicinity of tidewater glaciers to study the directionality of underwater ambient noise. Representative segments of the data are used to illustrate the analyses, and determine the directions of sound sources by using the time differences of arrivals between two horizontally aligned, broadband hydrophones. The results reveal that low frequency noise (< 3 kHz) is radiated mostly from the ice cliffs, while high−frequency (> 3 kHz) noise directionality strongly depends on the distribution of floating glacial ice throughout the fjord. Changing rates of iceberg production as seen for example in field photographs and logs are, in turn, most likely linked to signal amplitudes for relevant directions. These findings demonstrate the potential offered by passive acoustics to study the dynamics of individual tidewater glaciers.