14 August 2013

University of Copenhagen invites collaboration in the Arctic


The University of Copenhagen’s research station on Disko Island, off the west coast of Greenland, has been an important Arctic research hub for over a century. The University is now seeking to bolster its presence in Greenland and invites closer national and international collaboration at the station.

The Arctic Station’s deep roots in Greenlandic society and the local community on Disko Island are key to its research and educational infrastructure. Built up over a century, these roots make the station a unique facility. (Click for a larger image). Photo: Lene Düwel

The Arctic Station on Disko Island, off the coast of West Greenland, has been an important platform for Arctic research since 1906. The new initiatives will ensure that it continues to play a vital role in enhancing our understanding of the Arctic.

“The systematic collation of scientific data at the Station over such a long period is unique, and has made it possible to follow climate trends and changes in flora and fauna,” says John Renner Hansen, Dean of the Faculty of Science, who recently visited the Arctic Station along with Rector Ralf Hemmingsen and Chair of the University Board Nils Strandberg Pedersen. The purpose of the visit was to explore ways of making the best-possible use of the station in order to boost Arctic research.

“We want to expand our activities at the Arctic Station, and get even more out of the facilities and the unique location. This will help us to develop new educational activities and forge new national and international partnerships in the field of Arctic research,” says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen.

Despite Greenland’s changeable weather, the sun was shining when the Rector, the Chairman of the University Board and the Dean as well as the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science visited the Arctic Station on Disko Island off the coast of West Greenland, between 28 and 31 July. Their hosts were the Chair of the Arctic Station Board, Professor Reinhardt Møberg Kristensen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, and Professor Bo Elberling of CENPERM. (Click for a larger image). Photo: University of Copenhagen

Popular research site

Every year, a large number of researchers and students visit the Arctic Station during the fieldwork part of their research or study programme. In 2012, the Station hosted 198 guests and 21 Danish and international research projects on everything from the potential of the Arctic marine environment for breaking down crude oil to the foraging habits of humpback whales.

One current project, headed by Professor Bo Elberling of the CENPERM basic research centre at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen, uses the tundra around the Arctic Station to learn more about the exchange of greenhouse gases between soil layers and the atmosphere. The results could have major implications for future climate work. Global warming means that permafrost regions around the world are drying up, and as of now nobody knows what impact this will have on the release of greenhouse gases.

“The improvements we plan to make to the Arctic Station over the next few years will provide researchers with even better facilities. We are looking forward to new exciting and important partnerships,” says Dean John Renner Hansen. He calls on all those with an interest in Arctic research to take advantage of the opportunities available on Disko Island.

Collaboration vital in Arctic research

Research into climate change requires partnerships that transcend traditional academic and national boundaries. With the Arctic Station as its outpost, the University of Copenhagen will continue to be a key research player not only in the natural sciences, but also in disciplines such as the social sciences and humanities.

The aim is that all future research projects at the station will provide input into long-term monitoring programmes and into international study programmes in Arctic nature and society, such as the Master’s and PhD courses that run there every year.


Dean John Renner Hansen
Faculty of Science
Mobile: +45 28 75 53 27

Chairman of Arctic Station Administration 
Professor Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen
Natural History Museum of Denmark
Phone: +45 35 32 11 18