Setting up the labs

As I write this, lots of big snowflakes are falling and covering Ny Alesund, but there’s no time for making snowmen. This past couple of days we’ve all been busy trying to recreate the labs that we have at our home institutes so that we can conduct our research here in Ny Alesund. It’s been a huge task getting our equipment and scientific instruments here (with a lot of help from the German group; IFM-GEOMAR) and it takes a long time to prepare and pack everything so that it all arrives safely. Once here, the boxes and containers are unloaded and we then have to unpack everything again and convert the empty lab space into working laboratories. This can take some time and be a bit chaotic, especially when you can’t find things that you were sure you packed…

Organized chaos!

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking when you turn the scientific instruments on for the first time after they’ve been turned off and transported half-way round the world, and we’ve had a few problems that we’ve had to fix including leaky regulators on John’s Hydrogen gas cylinder (Norwegian fittings are different to the UK ones), and a loose fuse (tricky to find) on Frances’s GC/MS Peltier cold trap controller. Fingers crossed that everything will work smoothly from now on as the mesocosm experiment will begin in a few days time (the mesocosms are being placed into the fjord as I write!) and there are still calibrations to do before we can start taking our first measurements of the trace gases in the fjord water.

'Now, where does this bit go?'.....

 However if it all gets too much we only have to look out of the window to calm our minds. As well as the beautiful snowy landscape there is lots of wildlife that we are lucky to have close contact with. Frances usually keeps us updated with all the comings and goings of the birds that are around (like the Snow Bunting earlier today that looked like it had stripy leggings on because it had been ringed with multicoloured tags), but when I arrived at the lab this morning there was a new resident. A reindeer was sitting on a grassy patch just in front of the window. He stayed there all morning and apparently this is a common occurrence in Ny Alesund, but to us it was an exciting distraction from the unpacking and lab preparations.

Nice view from the window

Rudolph goes for a stroll

Hopefully he’ll keep us company for the next few weeks; it’s a bit of a contrast to the seagulls that we typically see out of our lab windows back in Plymouth, but then life here is very different.