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The scientific expedition GLACE will circumnavigate Greenland in 2019

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GLACE is in an unprecedented, complete circumnavigation of Greenland to gain a better understanding of processes related to global warming, from sea ice decline to changing vegetation, from an altered methane cycle to reduced fish populations, and from plastic pollution to atmospheric processes.


The Arctic Ocean surrounding Greenland is one of the prime sentinels of the Earth’s climate, and the Greenland ice sheet has been melting at unprecedented rates because of global warming. Changes in the Arctic influence global circulation patterns both in the ocean and in the atmosphere, thus affecting the climate for all of us. The increased rate of Arctic sea ice loss in recent decades and predictions of an ice-free Arctic ocean have far-reaching economic and social impacts. The Greenland Circumnavigation Expedition GLACE is a unique opportunity to study the Arctic environment on and around Greenland in a complete circumnavigation, giving access to remote and understudied areas on land and at sea.

GLACE is a scientific expedition, organised by the Swiss Polar Institute SPI and supported by the Swiss Polar Foundation. 15 projects, led by international experts, were selected by an international panel of scientists to form the expedition’s integrated scientific programme. Six research projects in oceanography, atmospheric sciences and ecology are under Swiss leadership. The WSL participates with one project, in which microbiologist Beat Frey will investigate the evolutionary history of terrestrial microorganisms and plants in Greenland. All other projects are coordinated by leading international scientists active in the Arctic.

In total, 44 scientists from many different countries will spend two months on the Russian research vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov that will circumnavigate Greenland clockwise. The expedition will be departing from Kiel, Germany on 30 July 2019 and return to Kiel on 29 September 2019. There will be six landing sites around Greenland to conduct research on land, on the ice or along the coastline. A nuclear powered icebreaker will support the research vessel along North Greenland to break the thick multi-annual ice.


You can read about the 15 projects, and follow the preparations of the scientific teams and the work and daily life on board on and on social media. A programme specifically designed for schools and younger children, will make it possible for all ages to follow this exciting expedition.


The Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) offers specific funding instruments and new opportunities, such as access to large international initiatives or own expeditions, to researchers based in Switzerland who work in the polar regions. SPI also supports the Swiss scientific community through health and safety courses, scientific workshops and international networking activities. Outreach activities are of particular importance to SPI which collaborates with cultural actors and schools in order to increase the awareness and understanding of polar regions and their links with our own environment.

The Swiss Polar Institute was launched in 2016 by the EPFL, WSL, ETHZ, University of Berne, and the Editions Paulsen.

For more: or twitter: @swisspolar