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Read more about Arctic Station

Arctic Station secretariat

Faculty of Science
Øster Voldgade 3
DK-1123 Copenhagen K

+45 3532 4256


Arctic Station

Arctic Station is the oldest research station in Greenland. It was founded in 1906 by the Danish botanist Morten P. Porsild. The station is situated in the town Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island in West Greenland. The station offers excellent opportunities to study botany, geography, geology, and zoology in a low arctic environment. The station is owned by the University of Copenhagen, and it is open for visiting scientists throughout the year.

Arctic Station is situated on the south coast of the island Disko (69"15N, 53"34W), in the eastern part of the town Qeqertarsuaq a small village with 1100 inhabitants. Qeqertarsuaq provides a supermarket, bakery, hospital, church, and a power station (220 V, 50 Hz). Transport to the mainland of Greenland is either by ship or aircraft.

The climate is maritime low arctic with polar night from 1 December to 13 January. The sea off Qeqertarsuaq is ice covered from December to May. Minimum temperatures in February and March may be below 30°C, while maximum temperatures in July may reach 20°C, but normally are around 10°C. Sudden changes in weather conditions may be expected and it may snow even in summer. Tertiary breccias and extensive plateau-basalts together with Cretaceous and Tertiary sandstones dominate the geology of Disko. The town of Qeqertarsuaq and the station rest on a smaller outcrop of Precambrium crystalline basement.

Unique features
The area around Arctic Station offers the following:

  • high arctic vegetation types on northern Disko
  • low arctic vegetation types on southern Disko
  • continuous monitoring of climate since 1992
  • well-preserved Quaternary deposits, e.g. tills and marine interglacial sediments as well as Holocene lacustrine deposits.
  • a large number of ice caps, glaciers (some of which have surged recently) and rock glaciers
  • diverse glacial, periglacial and coastal geomorphology
  • a number of hot springs (0-18°C) with diverse flora and fauna
  • rich bird life, many bird cliffs
  • sea mammals
  • a research vessel

Arctic Station consists of four buildings. The original field station, established by Morten P. Porsild in 1906 is now totally modernised. The technical manager lives in the west wing of the ground floor of a 660 m2 two-storey building The rest of the building has rooms for 26 guests, kitchen facilities, dining and living rooms and a seminar room. The 225 m2 laboratory building contains a dry laboratory, a cold lab with temperature control, dark room, and a well-stocked library. Furthermore, there is a building for the scientific leader and a garage with a workshop.
A new 15 m long research vessel, Porsild, was built in 1994. The vessel is equipped with all modern navigation instruments, an advanced CTD, different coring equipment and two winches.

Scientific equipment: Climate station, CTD, electronic theodolite, Niskins and other hydrographic equipment, dredges, binocular microscopes, stereo microscopes, electronic balances, refrigerators, freezers, computers, basic laboratory equipment, electrical power (220 V, 50 Hz).
Transport: Dinghy (Uttern) with 55 HP outboard motor, 2 rubber boats, 2 snowmobiles.
Safety: Portable VHF-radios, HF-radios, GPS, riffles.
Telecommunication: Telephone, fax and e-mail.

Arctic Station can accommodate up to 26 persons.

The Arctic Station is staffed year round with a scientific leader, a technical manager and a skipper for the research vessel.

Access and transportation
Arctic Station is easy to reach by aircraft through Kangerlussuaq. During summer, there are six connections per week from Copenhagen with connecting flights to Qeqertarsuaq. Transport between cities in West Greenland is either by passenger ships or by fixed-winged aircraft or helicopter. Transport to field sites can be arranged either with Arctic Stations research vessel or with helicopter.

Field season
Arctic Station is open for scientists throughout the year, but the period from June to September is the high season for field research at the station.

Arctic Station runs two automatic climate stations, one at the station and one in the fjord Akuliit c. 60 km northwest of the station. Furthermore, daily visual observations of snow cover, sea ice cover and cloudiness are conducted together with regular CTD castings at a site off Qeqertarsuaq.

Ownership and history
Arctic Station was founded in 1906 by the Danish botanist Morten P. Porsild. He was the head of the station for 40 years. In 1953 the station was placed under the Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen and a board is now responsible for all decisions relating to the maintainance of the station.