Shall I start with COVID-19? Yes. I can assure you that we keep social distancing, wash our hands regularly, and follow all the guidelines and measures given to us! We hope to stay safe and healthy.
Text and photos: Jochen Knies, researcher NGU
Chief Scientist’s Diary
Expedition CAGE 20-8 with RV «Kronprins Haakon”
Longyearbyen – Tromsø
16.11 – 30.10.2020
The first tale of my Greenland story is about how to actually get to Greenland territories in the Polar Night. But first, a little introduction to what are you going to follow over the next two weeks. I am leading a research cruise on board RV “Kronprins Haakon” together with my colleague Monica Winsborrow. Our team consists of scientists from CAGE-UiT The Arctic University of Norway, NORCE from Bergen, and engineers from the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen. Our main scientific goal is to identify and characterize natural methane leakage off the coast of Northeast Greenland. Sounds trivial, yes! But the excitement is that this has not been recorded yet.
So, with a bit of luck, we will be the first ones to show the world that the seafloor close to the biggest ice sheet in the Northern Hemisphere is leaking methane.
Back to my original topic: Greenland in the Dark. Planning a cruise outside of Norwegian territories requires long-term planning and patience. The application to Danish and Greenlandic authorities includes an official application to enter their territories; several forms to be filled out; permissions to carry weapons if you wish to work outside the vessel, and guarantees that you won’t harm the environment. We are required to keep at least one-kilometer distance to any seabird colony on the sea ice, for example. We started to compile all paperwork and submitted our application in the middle of the summer. By the end of October, we finally received permission from the authorities to realize our expedition. Literally, it means that you have two weeks to set up the scientific program (which you had in the drawer for a long-time, but never dared to discuss openly before you have the confirmation in black and white on your table). Now, we have it and we are very much excited!
We have gathered 16 scientists and engineers who are eager to follow our adventure to Greenland despite 24 hours of darkness, plenty of sea ice, and very little background information on where to search for gas flares. However, with any Arctic expeditions, there is only one way to keep the mood up: Expect the unexpected! Still, we are well prepared with excellent acoustic equipment on board “Kronprins Haakon” to search for gas flares in the water column. Advanced video systems from IMR will hopefully document the leaking methane at the seafloor. And, with a bit of luck, we will sample the sediments underneath the leaking methane to study the geological history around the ongoing release of methane. Sounds exciting? Hope so, stay tuned.