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Two young scientists share their experiences doing fieldwork in remote Northeast Greenland, check out their blog

Return to the real world

The time has come to pack up our samples and prepare for our journey home. To other people it looks like we are packing up millions of bottles of water. We have small vials, very small vials, medium small vials, and huge carboys – plus everything in between. We can ship many of these samples home. However, in order to do some experiments back in Aarhus we need some water to work with right away. This means we also have to take a lot of the samples in our personal luggage- which is limited in weight. The rest of the stuff we are shipping back needs to be carefully prepared and weighed. We have permits to take samples from Greenland, because NE Greenland is a national park and you can’t take anything home with you without permit -including water, no matter what size the vial. After packing up all our things we needed to close-up the research station. It took nearly a day to take down all our lab equipment and get the boat out of the water and back into the boat house. Finally, we were ready to leave.

Picture 1 and 2: One last shot of Daneborg (Photo: Henry Henson) and the Arctic sun (Photo: Isolde Puts)

In NE Greenland there are no strict flight schedules, and everything is arranged through personal contact- we are not part of these conversations. We got up early and walked to the gravel “airport” and waited for the pilots to arrive. They arrived the day before, because the prediction was that there would be fog, and planes can´t land with fog, but they can sometimes depart. Thankfully, it ended up being as sunny day and we could see everything below us as we began our 42-hour journey home. Flying down the coast, we passed over icebergs, fjords, glaciers, and the beautiful, harsh landscape of this remote place.

We landed for our first layover in Nerlerit Inaat (Constable point) where we waited for 5 hours for a plane to take us to Iceland. Here we met other researchers and a Nanok crew that had also been in the field the last few weeks. At the airport you are only allowed to be inside in the single room or in a 50 m2 pen outside. Many people just slept inside on the floor waiting for a plane to arrive.

We arrived to Reykjavik, back to real crowds of people with a little bit of shock. We had truly lived in a bubble the past month. We stopped at a burger restaurant before heading to our hotel. It was strange to see a lot of commercials, cars and people wearing non-field clothing. We sadly couldn’t fly out of Iceland for nearly another day due to bad weather, so we ended up back in Aarhus around 1am, tired after the two day journey.

But our work doesn’t stop now that we are back. Isolde is running an experiment and Henry is looking at data while we wait for the rest of our cargo-shipped samples to arrive. At least now we are reunited with our lab group and have begun to discuss some things we have noticed, and to organize the samples and their analyses. It is a bit hard to forget about Greenland, and we both have trouble sleeping, as the mind is processing images of our Greenland time- the Arctic sun, the CTDs, the mirroring waters, the impressive landscapes. We feel truly lucky to have had such an experience.

So long for now and thanks for reading!