June 2011

A new newsletter for Ny-Ålesund

Research work in Ny-Ålesund is described in a new letter initiated by the Dutch research station this summer. AWIPEV presents its work and facilities in the 2nd edition of NyScience.

Read you copy here:


Animal transport successful completed

Two German ecophysiologists (Burgel Schalkhausser and Axinja Stark) from the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven visited Ny Ålesund for one week (09.06.11-16.06.11) with the mission to transport living animals for experiments back home.
At first the AWI dive team (Max Schwanitz, Philipp Fischer and Sebastian Baumgarten) collected numerous individuals of a mussel called Greenland smoothcockle (Serripes groenlandicus), a circumpolar species of the Northern hemisphere, at Brandal bay in a depth of 10 to 15 m.

After arrival in the Marine Lab (Kingsbay) all mussels had to be labelled, measured and weighted to document the initial condition of the animals.

On the last morning after a gorgeous week in Ny Ålesund with beautiful weather, all mussels have been carefully packed into two cold boxes together with several thermal packs and macro algae. The mussels collected a lot of flight experience while taken to Germany in the personal luggage of the two ecophysiologists. 
Now the mussels live in Bremerhaven waiting for the experiments to get started.

May 2011


New Team, New Car, New Season

Since early May, the new overwintering team has arrived at the base. Together with the team in place, Rudolf Denkmann (Base Leader), Andrea Groß (Observatory Engineer) and Christophe Brière (Logistics Engineer) are going through administrative, logistic, scientific and technical instructions. They will take over the station in few weeks. The old team will remain at AWIPEV for some time as the summer season will begin with high activity in marine biology and ornithology.
A newcomer had made its first quiet steps in Ny-Ålesund: It is named GOUPIL. The electric car is the only one of its kind circulating at the moment at 79° North.


French-German Chemistry

The multiannual CHIMERPOL III program (PI: Tim Vogel (ECL, Lyon) in collaboration with Aurélien Dommergue at LGGE) consists of understanding the interactions between snow microorganisms and snowpack chemistry in the Arctic. How these components are connected and interrelated will be examined through both field and laboratory experiments.
This program is also focusing on the effects of mercury on microbial communities as well as the microbial participation in the mercury cycle in the Arctic. Different types of snow environments, such as coastal sites, sea-ice and glaciers, are studied throughout the duration of the program (until mid-June) to determine microorganism community structure and evolution. Detailed chemical characterization of these environments will also be undertaken to determine mechanisms of mercury methylation and the transfer of mercury towards ecosystems at snow melt.

The French group is soon joined by German scientists (PI: Ralf Ebinghaus (HZG)). Until mid-May their campaing will focus on studies of atmospheric transport and long-term trends of emerging persistent organic pollutants (ePOP) such as polyfluorinated organic compounds (PFC) and halogenated flame retardants (HFR) in the Arctic. These emerging organic substances will be analysed in air and snow samples collected around Ny-Ålesund and at Corbel in order to evaluate air-snow exchange processes and seasonal trends of ePOPs fluxes in the Arctic.


The legend of Miss Piggy

For seven years a suspicious red object has occupied the sky of Ny-Ålesund. We call it pig in the space, but it is better known as "Miss Piggy". Of course she is in service for science. The atmospheric boundary layer is the purpose of investigations. A couple of weather instruments records parameters of temperature, humidity and wind, getting information of the air layer we are living in. And in this legendary year 2011, Miss Piggy got a partner under Italian guidance in the operation "free the pigs", investigating additional parameters such as ozone and particles. The balloons are operated from the Observatory (AWIPEV) and Gruvebadet (CNR-Lab, Italy).

April 2011



Glacier survey from Corbel

The research group led by Madeleine Griselin is studying Austre-Lovenbreen several kilometers East of Ny-Ålesund, using Corbel as a base camp. Despite the severe weather conditions, in particular the strong winds over a week (reaching 150km/h!), the French team went in the field almost every day.

Recovery of data from automated station, maintenance and measurements filled up the two weeks of this spring campaign. The snow cover monitoring was realized from 42 snow cores using a PICO drill. First results show that this year snow cover is 75% of the snow cover of 2010 and 63% of 2009 (from data converted in water-equivalent).

Snow pits were studied in order to follow snow density evolution and chloride gradient in the snow, from the sea level up to highest point on the glacier.

The team realized also several radar profiles both to compare the last year situation and to complete the last year profile. This information is essential to refine the snow line (border between the accumulation and ablation zone) on the higher part of the glacier.

The stay ended up by meeting the scientific colleagues from China who are studying the same glacier. Since 2007 first exchanges started between the two teams. This year some data will be shared  for possible common publications. This collaboration went further than expected… one of the Chinese scientists left Corbel by foot with winter boots taken by mistake from one of the French colleagues.

International collaboration and coordination of the actual glacier research in the vicinity of Ny-Ålesund is taking the form of a workshop end of May:

30 May - 1 Jun 2011 Flagship Initiation Workshop: Glaciers around Kongsfjorden 'Ny-Ålesund glaciology - future opportunities & constraints, Sommarøya, Tromsø, Norway

Workshop : http://www.svalbardscienceforum.no/pages/SSFworkshop.htm


CICCI Campaign

In support of the CICCI Campaign being conducted in Ny-Alesund, March-May 2011, http://niflheim.nilu.no/cicci/
the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Colorado-Boulder is operating a system referred to as the Mobile Observing System (MOS), or Cryo-Sled.  The MOS is designed to make radiometric measurements of the atmosphere and snow surface to derive its broadband and spectral albedo (reflectivity) as well as surface or skin temperature.  These are critical quantities needed to evaluate the surface radiation budget, which can be affected by the deposition of aerosols onto the surface, particularly black carbon (or soot).  The system is battery powered and equipped with onboard GPS and IMU units to determine location and motion along track.  Accurate measurements of ambient air temperature are made coincidentally to evaluate the strength of the surface-based temperature inversion.  Measurements are made each second in order to determine spatial and temporal variations along track.  Integrated data will be used to validation observations made by UAVs, manned aircraft such as the AWI Polar-5, and also satellite retrievals of similar quantities.  Speeds of up to 30 KPH are achieved while measuring, depending on surface roughness. The system is being used over the sea ice, glacier and land snow surfaces to assess the variation of the snow properties throughout the campaign. 

The system was originally developed for use at South Pole in 1995 and has been used subsequently during the 1998 SHEBA Campaign in the Chukchi Sea, north of Point Barrow, Alaska, and in 2003 and 2004 at Dome Concordia.  Its current configuration includes enhancements made by Ian Crocker (PhD, University of Colorado) under the direction of James Maslanik of the CU-Aerospace Department.  Stone and Croker are operating the system during CICCI.


New AWIPEV base team

The next AWIPEV team will arrive in Ny-Ålesund at the beginning of May. This team is formed by Rudolf Denkmann (Base leader), Andrea Groß (Observatory engineer) and Christophe Briere (Logistics Engineer).

During two weeks in March, they were in training course in Brest, at IPEV for learning many things! How to repair a boat engine, drive a power boat, mooring a boat, how to use GPS and Iridium, or how to get back a man over board, …

The team tested survival suits, and checked the water tightness before sending them to the French-German Arctic research base. This training course was very beneficial before  going to Ny-Aalesund.

Andrea & Rudolf began their training course in January 2011 at AWI, in Germany. Christophe has rejoined the project in Brest, they all came back to AWI during April to finish their training session.


Arctic ozone depletion

The polar vortex has left Ny-Ålesund and moves eastwards. A couple of weeks ago measurements showed that the ozone-depleted air masses extended from the north pole to southern Scandinavia. Now the polar vortex is above Siberia. If those air masses drift south towards densely populated area, scientists recommend to consider UV radiation forecasts of the weather agencies for any outdoor activities.
Since the Match campaign has started mid-January, a total of 40 balloons have been released from AWIPEV base.

Read press release from April 5th on