Let’s meet – How chemists, geologists, physicists, and biologists coordinate their sampling

Quelle: blogs.helmholtz.de/polarstern/en/

26 May 2015
by Fokje Schaafsma, Hauke Flores and Anna Nikolopoulos

“At nine there is the ice-meeting and at one there is the mud-meeting…”.
Apart from all the other preparations there are a lot of things that need to be planned and discussed. Different groups of people study different things and all of them need to collect their desired samples in the weeks ahead. We cannot all work at the same time, so a practical planning is needed. There are measurements that require the ship to be stationary but if we want to fish, for instance, the ship needs to be moving.

On the other hand, despite the differences in research interests, a lot of people would like similar types of samples such as water and ice. Therefore it is also necessary to plan the logistics, so we can possibly ease each other’s work load, share time and samples, and don’t do double work. This is important, because our time is limited and we all want to collect as much samples as possible since this may be a lifetime opportunity to do so. And this results in organising ice-meetings, water-meetings, mud-meetings, net-meetings, filter-meetings etc.
There is a wide variety of topics that are being studied on this expedition.

So the meetings also give us the opportunity to learn what everyone is doing, since many people have never met each other before. Chemists learn about the methods being used by the geologists, while the physicists combine their interests with the biologists. Some study kilometres of ice using satellite data, while others are mainly looking at the bottom 10 cm of the ice. And while some require a hundred litres of water to do their measurements, others are happy with an amount that fits in a coffee cup. This does not only depend on the type of measurements that are being done, but also the scale of the research interest.

Ice drift and ocean currents are large-scale processes potentially covering the whole Arctic Ocean and maybe even more. But imagine being a unicellular organism, which cannot be seen by human’s naked eye, living within the Arctic sea ice. Your whole world is probably even smaller than that bottom 10 cm of ice that is being sampled.

Small-scale processes and large-scale processes, organisms and their environment, everything is in the end related. So despite different personal research interests, eventually we have to bring it all together. And a good opportunity to get new ideas is when every group’s work is being discussed. For instance in some sort of meeting.