According to Icelandic law the Marine Research Institute has as one of it's duties to improve knowledge on the physical- and chemical oceanography of Icelandic waters, particularly in relation with biological resources. The oceanography group at MRI runs various projects that conform with these duties. Among these are some research projects that are monitoring the environment and climate.
Since 1950 there have been annual observations of temperature and salinity in spring at a number of fixed positions or stations on the Icelandic shelf in order to trace climatic variations. These stations are on lines or sections that are named after places on shore.
After 1970 the institute started to conduct measurements on these fixed stations four times a year, in February/March,May/June, August/September and October/November. Most often this is done in connection with other surveys such as juvenile studies in August and capelin assessment in Autumn. These observations on the marine environment are then used as background information for studies on
the biology of various marine life. Examples of this are primary production of phytoplankton, distribution of zooplankton and herring during the so-called ice-years in the sixties.
At the same time as the observations of temperature and salinity take
place various other monitoring are carried out. During the spring cruise measurements are done on nutrients, primary production of phytoplankton and abundance and species of zooplankton to name a few.
Originally these spring cruises were done in connection with herring surveys and these spring observations have been done continuously since 1950. In the quarterly cruises there has been regular monitoring of carbon dioxide in the sea in addition to several other samples taken for analysis of for example trace elements, radioactivity and sediment flux.
Continouos monitoring of the inflow of Atlantic water into the area north of Iceland is also carried out by MRI using moored current meters.
Many of the tasks and others are linked to international research projects and climate studies in the North Atlantic.