The Arctic has a strong influence on the climate in Europe. The University of Graz is expanding its research in the region and has agreed with the University of Copenhagen to expand and jointly operate the Sermilik Research Station in East Greenland.
Year-round polar research: what's it all about?
Dr. Christian Palmers noticed that Austria is one of the few European countries without research infrastructure in the Arctic. He had been looking for a way to sustainably support Austria's long tradition in polar research for some time. He approached the experts of the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI), which is closely linked to the University of Graz. The University took the initiative and turned the ideas into a concrete project: the expansion of the Sermilik Research Station in East Greenland into a modern international research facility.
With the generous support of Dr. Palmers, a new house is being built near the station, which will quadruple the station's capacity and enable the sustainable supply of electricity, heat, and water. However, the pandemic and worldwide supply problems delayed the already costly construction work in Greenland.
The research station of the University of Graz is open to students and scientists from all disciplines. So far, research has focused on climatic changes in the polar regions and how the effects of climate change in Greenland affect its citizens. For example, the amount of meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet impacts fish stocks, which in turn negatively influences the important fishing industry.
However, the input of meltwater into the ocean is not only relevant for Greenland. If more fresh water enters the ocean, not only the sea level rises. It can also make it harder for the cold water masses of the North Atlantic Current to sink in the area of the Arctic. This changes the circulation of the North Atlantic. The result would be a weakening of the warm ocean currents of the Gulf Stream. The result: less heat would be transported to Europe. This would have a massive impact on the continent.
One more reason why even the smallest changes in the far north should be scientifically observed.