After two days of traveling from the UK I finally arrived on Monday to Ny Alesund. The place looks like a fairytale and it’s absolutely magical even with all the scientists around and their equipment. There is one white reindeer in the village, several species of birds and apparently also white fluffy foxes. On my arrival I had a quick briefing about the place and the customs of the people that live in the settlement. Some of these customs include taking your shoes off in every single building you enter into in order not to carry wet ice and mud from outside. I was also astonished by the fact that everyone here separates their everyday rubbish and laboratory waste into 20 different types of recycling materials. In addition all the buildings in the settlement are kept unlocked and this is not just because of the lack in crime here but because in case you get chased by a polar bear, there will be always a place for you to run into.
On my arrival I met with Susan, Frances and John, who are also from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Frances was the first to take me on a tour of the settlement, pointing out important buildings and points of interest. Then I quickly got into speed with Lucie from the Station Biologique in Roscoff with whom I will be working in collaboration here for the next month and a half. To my surprise the laboratory space that was allocated for our water filtrations was in a storage hanger. However once I got into the hanger I was really surprised with what Lucie and some of the other scientists have done to the place. It looked different than the misleading outside; a well equipped lab that hopefully will be able to meet all our needs after sampling in the fjord. What is good about this location is that it is relatively close to the zodiac jetty (more or less 150 metres) from which we will be carrying every day 100 litres of seawater by hand. This is reassuring and encouraging at the same time because other groups that have to sample similar amounts of water need to go much further into the settlement to their laboratories. So as you can see although in first sight not the ideal looking laboratory we were all hoping for, it has great advantages.
The sampling hasn’t started yet and there are many more logistical issues to be resolved before we start, such as who is going on each boat, when, who is going to be the certified boat driver and also the arrangement of an ice watch list aimed to early locate nearby approaching icebergs from the melting glaciers and the prevention of these icebergs from getting close to our experiment location in the fjord. We all hope that we can start sampling soon and get into a working routine. What is sure is that this routine will be in daylight as there is no darkness here at this time of the year. From 79 ° North, dovijdane, dasvidania, shalom and good bye.
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