Because Arctic Station has had Porsild for many years, polar researchers have been able to regularly collect data from the same place over a long period. It is unique to have that option accessible in the Arctic.
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On a Monday morning in October, with the sun still about to rise over the sea in Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island, sailors and Arctic Station leader Casper T. Christiansen board Porsild with measuring equipment for a mission.
The measuring equipment includes probes, which the crew lower down to 300 metres deep in the sea several nautical miles off the harbour. The probes allow the crew to take water samples and measure saline content and temperature within the different layers.
In this way, the researchers collect data which indicates changes in climate over several decades.
Not for ice sticks
Nothing comes without hard work, and it is certainly hard work to collect data, as the University Post reporter learned on a trip aboard the Porsild.
Sailors and employees have to take samples from many different sea-depths from three different positions. The probes are heavy, the deck is slippery, the ship rolls in the swell which comes in from Baffin Bay, and it is crucial to work securely and safely with the equipment to avoid accidents.
Although the ocean currents keep the sea around Disko Bay ice-free for another month yet, it is still freezing. The air temperature lies below freezing point, and the job of taking samples goes on for the majority of a work day.
That is why it is good to have Porsild’s little, heated wheelhouse, which serves as a space to eat lunch or get warmed up, before Porsild returns to Qeqertarsuaq’s protected inner harbour. In December, it freezes over, and Porsild cannot return to its missions until early spring.