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Title: Scientific expedition "Life in ice" : August 2002 - August 2003, observations at Kinnvika ( 80° 3’N, 18° 12’E ) Svalbard, Nordaustlandet ; final report
Language: English
Authors: Trinks, Hauke 
Issue Date: 2003
Abstract (english): A scientific expedition of the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) was performed in 2002/03 on Nordaustland, Svalbard. Two humans with two sledge dogs stayed continuously for thirteen months in a little hut at a latitude of 80°N. Using a small, well equipped laboratory, many observations and measurements were performed and documented. The main purpose of the expedition was the systematical experimental investigation of the growth and melting of sea ice and it’s microstructure during the course of a whole year. Outgoing from the observations the hypothesis was confirmed about the function of sea ice at the very beginning of Life as a possible matrix to push prebiotic chemistry towards first biological processes. The gained results indeed deliver many arguments that Life may have started in the sea ice of the early Earth, four billion years ago. Sea ice shows a complicated microstructure containing about 10 14 tiny compartments per cubic metre between which liquid brine drips and mineralic particles, as well as small gas bubbles, are embedded. This environment may support chemical reactions leading finally to primitive life. Outgoing from the investigations of the real sea ice at Nordaustland, a model conception is derived concerning sea ice as a biochemical reactor. The construction of a corresponding technical sea ice reactor is described. With that, future further realistic experimental investigations are possible, which may be performed in the laboratory using artificially produced sea ice. Sea ice is a favourable environment for the existence of many micro-organisms. Particularly it seems that various bacteria prefer to live in sea ice. During the expedition, in a systematical way, samples of these bacteria were taken each month, which grew in special containers frozen in sea ice. The bacteria samples were sent to the Biotechnological Institute of TUHH where they will be investigated concerning the bacteria’s genetic structure. Many kinds of new bacteria were already identified. Some of these may be usable, for example by the food industry, using enzymes under cold environmental conditions. Nordaustland as an island in the high arctic is, up to now, not very well known. Therefore, on the occasion of this expedition, not only sea ice and it’s micro-organic inhabitants were investigated, but also, as much as possible, further observations were made and described. Particularly the interest was focused on the weather and vegetation, polar bears and historical artefacts being stranded on the beaches of Nordaustland. Daily, all available weather data were taken, evaluated and documented. The weather proved to be fairly harsh characterised by cold temperatures and mostly heavy winds. Outgoing from this, the vegetation on Nordaustland is comparatively poor. The growing phase of the plants was documented by hundreds of photos during the course of a whole year. 101 polar bears were noticed and observed, sometimes for many hours and days, close to the expedition hut. Each bear was characterised and it’s behaviour was described and documented by photo and film. Some conclusions concerning the bears psychological behaviour were drawn. Recommendations about possibilities to count the polar bears on Svalbard and to perform further observations were given. On the beaches of Nordaustland many historical artefacts were found, for example ribs of old whaling ships, parts of wooden barrels, oars, fragments of a sledge and hunter’s equipment. The artefacts deliver a fascinating insight into the various phases of Svalbard’s 400 year history. An international scientific programme is proposed to perform a more systematical corresponding investigation.
DOI: 10.15480/882.199
Institute: Messtechnik E-6
Type: Report (Bericht)
License: In Copyright In Copyright
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