Tales from Bear Island: a month of Arctic fieldwork (or, four weeks without a phone)

Sean in front of the coastline.

In August 2018 I was lucky enough to join a CASP expedition to Bear Island, in the Norwegian High Arctic, as a field assistant and as part of my Part III project.

My journey to the arctic began as so many do, in Heathrow airport. We unloaded the minivan-sized taxi required to get all our gear to the airport, and I walked in to the entrance of Terminal 2 wearing a big coat, carrying two heavy gear bags and a rifle case. We drew some looks. I couldn’t help but feel excited and important.

Then I realised I had left my phone in the taxi. Panic descended.

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Interning at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

Work aboard a research vessel.

Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to complete a research internship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), known by locals as the ‘Biological Station’. I was therefore off to a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for two months to research the effects of climate change and swim with turtles.

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WACSWAIN Drill Log: preparing for fieldwork

Most of us assume that the key skills for our research are academic ones. But preparing for our field season in Antarctica for the WACSWAIN project, it’s obvious just how many other skills and attributes are needed, and how we rely on our non-academic support staff.

Nine of us are now waiting at Rothera research station on the Antarctic Peninsula, ready to fly into the field – four from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, and five from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

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Research on ice – introducing the WACSWAIN project

Four Cambridge Earth Scientists are about to travel to Antarctica for three months, where they will turn to the past to assess the risks to the future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Project leader Professor Eric Wolff explains the aims and importance of their research.

Many large cities, and all those who get their living from the sea, live close to sea level. As a result, even small rises in sea level expose millions of people to extra risk. Sea level is currently rising due to a combination of melting glaciers, thermal expansion of the warming ocean, and contributions from large ice sheets.

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