Monitoring the Atlantic Inflow toward the Arctic (MAIA)

Sea ice
Sea ice ©

The main objective of MAIA was the development of an inexpensive, reliable system for monitoring the inflow of Atlantic water to the Nordic Seas, based on coastal sea level data, and to see how changes of ice extent in the north are related to this flux. Available observation systems, including standard tidal stations, were used to obtain transport estimates with a time resolution of less than a week and the method was tested to find out if it could be applied to a similar monitoring of other regions.

A general overview of the project is presented in the MAIA brochure (948 KB). The project was divided into three phases

  • The analysis of historical data to develop useful algorithms for computing the inflow
  • A validation experiment which focused on collecting data to test the algorithms
  • An analysis to test and refine the algorithms and recommend measures for improvement

Who funded the project?

MAIA was a research project within the Fifth Framework programme of the European Commission (Contract EVK2-CT-1999-00008) supporting Key Action 2 (Global Change, Climate and Biodiversity). The project was part of the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development programme: to better exploit existing data sets and observing systems.

Who ran the project?

MAIA was coordinated by SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, Trondheim, Norway and involved scientists from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Merseyside, UK; Fisheries Research Services, Aberdeen, UK; Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway; Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Laboratoire d'Oceanographie Dynamique et de Climatologie, Paris, France.

The project ran from January 2000 to December 2002. Data were collected as part of a validation experiment from May 2000 to November 2001. Data management support for the project was provided by BODC.


The fieldwork programme consisted of 31 cruises and included 5 repeated CTD sections. These sections were in the Faroe Shetland Channel, North of Faroes, Norwegian Sea (Gimsøy and Svinøy) and Barents Sea (Fugløya - Bear Island). The research vessels, Scotia (UK), Magnus Heinason (Faroes), Johan Hjort and G.O.Sars (Norway) were used. 51 moorings containing current meters, ADCPs and bottom pressure recorders were deployed along the sections. 10 RAFOS floats were also deployed in the Lofoten Basin. During the Johan Hjort cruise in May 2000 about 300 water samples were collected in order to measure 129Iodine concentration (relative to 127I). Analysis was carried out by the Centre de Spectrométrie Nucléaire et de Spectrométrie de Masse, France.

Available observational data from the standard tidal stations at Tórshavn, Lerwick, Bodø and Ny-Ålesund were also used in the analysis.

The MAIA project data set

BODC had responsibility for assembling and fully documenting all data collected during the validation experiment. The data set consists of 859 CTD casts, 18 moored ADCPs, 43 current meters, 6 bottom pressure recorders, 2 inverted echo sounders, 8 RAFOS floats and 1 Iodine experiment.

The full MAIA data set was published on CDROM by BODC in March 2003 complete with user interface and documentation.

European Commission