The last two weeks were more or less our final preparations for Ny-Ålesund in Germany and France, respectively. All of us René, Thomas and myself, are excited to be in Ny-Ålesund soon.
But before we are leaving, it is time to finally visit our French partners at IPEV (Institut Polaire Paul Emil Victor) in Brest in Brittany. We have met Thomas, the new AWIPEV logistic engineer as well as Dominique and Pascal of IPEV, already a few weeks ago. That was during the introductory seminar in Bremerhaven. But who else works at IPEV who works with AWIPEV and what do the preparations involve on the French side?
Having a boating license is one thing, being actually able to drive a boat a completely other one. Thomas has been a passionate sailor for more than 10 years and has spent uncountable days on the water. René and myself on the other hand are pretty much newbies. René received his boating license last November, and I am holding mine only since the end of February. And when preparing for the practical license examination one doesn’t really learn how to drive a boat, just how to pass the exam. Therefore, to actually get experience in driving a boat, especially on open ocean waters, we spent a few days on the water near Brest which is a perfect place to practice.
We were practicing landing and take-off from the wharf and how to anchor a boat close to the shore. Furthermore we learned how to safely approach and land on the beach as well as how to anchor the boat at the beach. This is very important because during the landing on a beach there is a risk to damage the propeller or the boat itself. When anchoring the risk of drift ice that can damage the boat or that can drag the boat along must be considered. After all, we do not want to return to the boat and find it damaged or missing.
Whereas during the boating license you are only driving with super slow speed, we need to know what it feels like when we are actually driving with 30-40km/h. Also, now we are not passengers but captains! Furthermore, how do I use a GPS and a map and find a location on the water? How do I manoeuvre the boat during strong sea swell and in strong currents? And not to forget, how do I rescue someone who has fallen over board? To test out what it feels like to be a ‘man over board’ we put on the survival suits and went for a swim! These survival suits are normally worn when you go on a boat trip in Ny-Ålesund.
We had many exercises during beautiful weather in Brest. During the boat outing we also had a chance to see the numerous cliff lines of the coast around the Brest area. And what cannot be missed when you are close to the ocean? Exactly, eating fresh clams for lunch. Even René was convinced who usually isn’t much into fish and seafood.
Ater the week in Brest is was time for Thomas to visit Potsdam. It was his final stop on his way to Ny-Ålesund. Here, everything is about the radio soundings and ozone soundings. In Ny-Ålesund the radio sondes are launched daily, and in the case of ozone at least weekly. Ideally the sondes reach an altitude of 30 km in the stratosphere and measures air pressure, air temperature, humidity, and wind speed on its way to deliver an altitude depend profile of these parameters. An in the case of an ozone sounding, the sonde additionally measures ozone. The data contributes amongst other things to the daily weather forecast in Germany.
To see what procedure is involved when preparing a sounding we visited the German Weather Service in Lindenberg. There we had the chance to observe the preparation of a radio sounding and also familiarized ourselves with the instruments of the meteorological measuring field. Numerous of the instruments at the German Weather Service can also be found Ny-Ålesund.
These are our last greetings from Germany. Thomas will arrive in Ny-Ålesund on Monday, René and I will follow after Easter. Until then, I wish you happy Easter holidays. You’ll hear soon again from us, and next time with new stories from the Arctic!