Tomorrow I fly to Germany to prepare for an ocean experiment in the shallow waters off northern Greenland. Together with oceanographers from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Germany, I hope to deploy 5 ocean current measuring devices on the bottom of the ocean for 2-3 years in Norske Oer Trough to the west of Belgica Bank inside the little black box to measure the ocean heat moving deep below the surface towards 79N Glacier, one of the last remaining glaciers of Greenland with an attached ice shelf floating atop the ocean:
To do this, I need about 7000 pounds of equipment to get from western Canada to northern Greenland. All this stuff sits in the Port of Montreal (Canada) waiting for the freighter “Montreal Express” to ship it all to Hamburg and Bremerhaven to be loaded onto the R/V Polarstern, AWI’s research icebreaker. All ships are tracked via https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ in real time and, I just checked, she just left Hamburg for Montreal this morning.
The Arctic research community is tiny and I try my darnest to share data, news, and developments without breaking confidences. A good friend and colleague of mine, Prof. Preben Gudmandsen, lives and works in Denmark. He is as excited as am I about all things related to Greenland which includes the upcoming experiment(s) in Fram Strait. By training Preben is an electrical engineer and helped developed some of the first radars with which to probe Greenland’s ice-sheet. We visit and e-mail each other as often as our professional and private lives allow, but he just sent me these images of western Fram Strait off Greenland:
And on related matters, I discovered earlier this week that Norway’s StatOil has a license to explore this very shelf area for oil and gas exploration as explained in this official StatOil press release that also includes this map
I also learnt that they sponsored mooring deployments in 2012/13 and 2013/14 with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. A 5-minute video of the cruise is posted at
There is much more to explore and think about here, but this will have to await a future blog when my mind is less cluttered by ship and travel schedules, paper and proposal writing, data and computer chasing, or just keeping a crazy life of working across 9 time zones together. Scientific life is good and fun, but exhausting and nerve-wrecking at times.
Budéus, G., & Schneider, W. (1995). On the hydrography of the Northeast Water Polynya Journal of Geophysical Research, 100 (C3) DOI: 10.1029/94JC02024
Hughes, N., Wilkinson, J., & Wadhams, P. (2011). Multi-satellite sensor analysis of fast-ice development in the Norske Øer Ice Barrier, northeast Greenland Annals of Glaciology, 52 (57), 151-160 DOI: 10.3189/172756411795931633
Wadhams, P., Wilkinson, J., & McPhail, S. (2006). A new view of the underside of Arctic sea ice Geophysical Research Letters, 33 (4) DOI: 10.1029/2005GL025131
I do not understand how the polar science community can still, in 2014, be sponsored by the oil and gas industry.
The scientific community is NOT a monolithic block sponsored by one government agency, country, or industry. Scientists are also citizen who frequently debate data, approaches, and policies from diverse sets of values and philosophies sometimes even within the same person or family of friends.
(I have a lot of respect for scientists; a good friend of mine is an Antarctic ocean/glacier biologist. I mean no disrespect to the thousands working for the advancement of human knowledge. My question is from a place of genuine confoundment.)
No offence taken. Transparency, openess, and honesty is key in all enterprises that involve the environment and the public good. Full disclosure:
All my funding comes from the National Science Foundation and the University of Delaware. The current project to deploy ocean current moorings off Greenland expends about $179,000 of US federal funds. It pays one month of my salary this summer, about $11,000 pre-tax. The Unversity of Delaware pays me for 9-month each year to teach students, conduct research, and provide service to a larger community. I currently have no other sources of funding or income.