Hi Reddit! The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) is here to promote Polar Week!

APECS ​is an international and interdisciplinary organization for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, early faculty members, educators​,​ and others with interests in ​Earth's ​Polar Regions ​(Antarctica and the Arctic) ​​as well as the wider cryosphere. ​Our goals include creating opportunities for the development of innovative, international, and interdisciplinary collaborations among current early career polar researchers as well as recruiting, retaining​,​ and promoting the next generation of polar enthusiasts.​

APECS members participating in this AMA are early-career polar scientists in a variety of research areas with experience working in the polar regions in remote field locations and in some native communities, studying everything from sea- ice interactions with charismatic animals​ ​like​ ​penguins.​ Today members from APECS Norway, APECS Portugal and APECS Netherlands will be answering questions related to their research, what it’s like to work in the polar regions, or even how to get into polar research.

We will be answering questions today 30th of March from 9:00 am(GMT+2) till 20:00 pm (GMT+2)!!


Eva Chamorro: PhD Candidate in zooplankton dynamics in high latitude ecosystems at the department of Arctic Marine Biology at the UiT.

Stefan Thiele: Postdoc in microbial ecology, working on bacteria and archaea in the Arctic at UiB.

Danielle Grant: PhD Candidate in paleogenomics and marine ecosystems of the past at The Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) and the UiB.

Kyle Mayers: Senior researcher at NORCE. My research interests are in understanding trophic dynamics, from viruses to zooplankton in oceanic and coastal marine ecosystems.

Amanda Ziegler: Postdoctoral fellow at UiT. I am a benthic ecologist interested

Hugo Guímaro: PhD Student in diet and population dynamics of Emperor Penguins using satellite imagery analysis and modelling as approach methods at MARE-UC and at BAS.

Mareike Bach: PhD student at University of Groningen working on microalgae in sea ice habitats, sulphur cycling and algae physiology. Deborah Bozzato: Postdoc at the University of Groningen, in the Ecophysiology of Marine Microalgae lab.

Proof: Here's my proof!

Edit: Thank you for participating! We are done taking questions but you can find more information about polar science and APECS on our webpage (https://www.apecs.is/) or on social media we are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Comments: 73 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

DaymD12 karma

Were there any dire situations you guys run into in the polar regions ?

APECS_Polarscience22 karma

Hi DaymD, this is Stefan from Norway. I was out sampling on the Norwegian island Svalbard/ Spitzbergen, which is in the high Arctic and I was also part of a cruise going to the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. During these times I have seen a few "dire" situations directly. This was mostly trash in the ocean and on the island. But this is probably not the "dire situation" you look for. In terms of climate change, this is pretty hard to see, especially if you only go once. When we went out on the Barents Sea, the sea ice was fairly far North. This means, it was a year with low total sea ice. But is that an effect of climate change? It could also be an anomaly of this particular year. So only by talking to the captain and the older scientists on board, who all had been there a few times over the last years and decades, revealed that the ice used to be further South. That is an indicator, but it is also what we call "anecdotal evidence". This means, single people saw something, but did not measure it scientifically. So in the end, we need to go back to sea ice charts and models and check what really happens over a long time to actually see the effect of climate change. But if we do, yes, there is less ice in the Arctic. A similar example would be glaciers, where you can see where the have been 10-20-30 years back and measure the decline. Glacier Gray in Patagonia (Chile) is a good example here. I hope that answers your question.

MissionCivilize10 karma

What’s one myth you’d like to debunk about the Polar Regions and one interesting fact that isn’t really discussed more widely?

APECS_Polarscience18 karma


that is a really cool question, and I had to think about it.

Myth: The Gulf Stream will stop and we will all freeze to death. Well, the Gulf Stream is slowing and we might eventually see it stopping, but not within a day. New York, you are save in this respect. Interestingly, a similar thing was found in the Southern Ocean recently: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-65120327

Another myth: The ice is dead. While glacier ice is pretty dense and only a few pretty bad ass microbes manage to life in there (snow algae, etc.), sea ice is pretty porous and a lof of stuff lives in the small channels. Fish, crustaceans, a whole array of planktonic critters, and of course my beloved microbes as well. But as so often, we know very little about it.

Fact: There are many things that deserve more attention. i think most people finally got this climate change thing and the melting of the ice etc. and that it is not a good thing. But what many people don't talk about is e.g. the effect on arctic communities. The change in the environment, especially with less snow and ice, can have severe impacts on the locals that traditionally life under these conditions and need them, e.g. to get their lifestock to the summer pastures by crossing a frozen river. The river is not frozen anymore and they have to change their lifes completely.

Another fact: Changes in the spring timing. I just recently read that in some regions spring is now on average nearly three weeks earlier (not this year in Norway though...). This means, plants are blossoming earlier, insects hatch earlier, but the larger animals, like birds, might still come late from their winter quarters. They lay eggs, but the peak insect season is over when they hatch, so what to feed the young ones on? This is just one example, it is probably similar for many animals and plants, which phase changes in the annual rhythm. This could get problematic, but i haven't seen much attention to it.

subcinco8 karma

Any ham radio going on at the poles?

APECS_Polarscience9 karma

Apparently, yes! Historically, ham radio was one of the only ways of quickly communicating in remote places, including research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. But there are still operators today, for instance, in remote parts of Canada, Greenland and in Antarctica. It's a useful back-up system for communication since satellite and internet communications can easily be lost in bad weather, but it also provides a fun activity too!

wonwont7 karma

what's the social and dating life like up/down there? tell us some shenanigans! what do you do for fun that you normally wouldn't do if you were back home?

APECS_Polarscience7 karma

Hello! Danielle here, I'm a PhD student working primarily in the Arctic marine environment. This is a fun question -- mainly I have spent time on ice breakers during field campaigns as well as a bit of time up in Svalbard. The research ships can have a very intense environment, after a couple of days it really starts to feel like you have spent weeks together with the same group of people. This is really a perfect setting for people to meet new ship-romances (whether they admit it or not that is a second thing) -- but I agree with one of the other comments from Stefan earlier, a lot of these field campaigns seem to be their own social experiments in a way! In my experience there is also a high likely hood that any flirty behaviour is noticed by the rest of the crew pretty fast, for me it always ends up feeling a little bit like you are at an adult summer camp forming some pretty deep connections while also "giggling" a bit about different developing relationships. For the second part of your question about what do to for fun -- Svalbard is a really incredible place to explore! Personally, I am pretty excited to be outdoors at home but in Svalbard it is on another level, and with the added element of having to keep polar bear safety in mind for even small hikes! :) Thanks for the question!

APECS_Polarscience4 karma

I currently live in Tromsø, a great city surrounded by mountains. You can practice lots of outdoor activities here like kayaking, skiing, climbing, diving, biking and much more!!! If you are a city person maybe this is not your place even though there are some students and tourism so even if there is a small city there are some things to do in the city and some ambiance in the bar! My favorite activity in winter is skiing the landscape is amazing and the mountains are so close that you can go after work!! But unfortunately this year I am not able to ski due to an injury and I have to confess that this winter is harder mentally because the winter is very long up here! Relating to dating a fun fact is that many couples I know here fell in love during a stay in Svalbard :P

APECS_Polarscience6 karma

What happens on the ship, stays on the ship...in theory. But befriend a polar scientist and they all have one or the other story about some people that ended up in naughty situations. In Norway, this is a bit calmed down, because the ships are dry (no alcohol). German ships are a bit different and I hear stories that french ships are really good for having a little glass or two.

When it comes to land based expeditions, Svalbard was mentioned, but there you are in a village (usually) and go out. So this is not as much of a social experiment. The other side is different. In Antarctica you are in stations with some people and it is similar to boats. I can recommend chilean bases, as they have pretty good BBQs. During my time at Statione Prat we also had a folklore evening, some banquetts, and even the first Antarctic olympic games. It was basically Chile vs. Ecuador, but it was fun to play soccer so far South.

APECS_Polarscience2 karma

In the town of Longyearbyen on Svalbard there are a number of bars and even a night club (Huset!) which we visited when being there for research for a couple of weeks. I remember we tried using Tinder while there and the only people nearby were those of us sitting together or in Tromsø (>900km away!) so not so successful :)

On field stations there is usually quite a good social scene with the other people there as the others have said. Since you are so remote you can form some very good friendships with people quite quickly, and getting to be in such a special place as the polar regions with someone is a great bonding experience.

On research ships, particularly in the Arctic, since the internet doesn't always work, you tend to play a lot of board games, or watch movies (many ships have a very big DVD collection) when taking a break from the research.

kapannier6 karma

What’s something that’s surprised you the most about your chosen career path and/or research topic?

Maybe being greedy here by asking more than one question, but what with the proliferation of man made material being found in even the most remote places on earth, where/how do you see this affecting the ecosystems from micro to macroscopic for future research?

APECS_Polarscience13 karma


1) Personally, there are three things that surprised me in polar science.

A) How many people actually are working in polar science. I thought it was far less, since it always sounded that only a few chosen once do this stuff. But there are actually many. I might be biased by being in Norway though and here is a strong polar focus.

B) How tough the environment is. Here I talk not about the Arctic, I talk about the research environment/ the academic work environment. It is apparently a very relevant topic, but still there is little funding or jobs.

C) How little respect people have for our work and the facts we produce. It is just that very often you run into people that don't trust the specialists. I mean, if a medical doctor says you have cancer, you trust that person right? If a doctor in bio/physics/geo tells you the earth has cancer, you ignore it and claim some wild stuff you heard from your neighbor is true? Pretty stunning.

About the man made material, I guess you mostly mean plastics. However, the answers would be (mostly) true for chemicals and other materials too. It is pretty frightening to see, but so far, we know very little about it and the effects, especially in polar regions. So this is a bit tough to answer, since we don't even know how much is out there. Let's start at the micro scale.

The microbial world is probably not much affected directly by microplastic in the sense that they die. Here, microplastic could only provide a vector for the transport of microbes, but also fish and mollusk larvae etc. across the oceans. Many organisms and organism states prefer an attached lifestyle. This means they stick to stuff. This stuff floats around and degrades...or not if it is microplastic. So the microplastic carries these organisms around the world, which can lead to the spread of disease (unlikely) and invasive species (more likely).

On the other micro scale, this would be the uptake of microplastic into organisms. There, it is known that we find plastic in fish and crustaceans, which then find their way to some peoples tables. So there is an uptake into higher organisms. What the microplastic does there and how the effects are, is not well known (at least to me), but i am fairly sure it is not a beneficial effect. Alarming was the recent finding of nanoplastics in human blood. This means, it is at the core of where it can get and this for sure will not be good for us...or any other organism that has these particles in their blood.

On the macro scale, the classic example are sea birds, whos stomachs are full of plastic and they starve to death. Google "plastic and sea birds" and you get hundrets of pictures. And what is true for birds, it is true for all other marine critters. Fish, turtles, whales, all found with plastic in their stomachs. So this has a huge impact. Ghost nets would be the next higher category then, which are known to still fish and by that kill a lot of sea life. Unfortunately, relicts of the fishing industry are the most abundant plastic pieces found on the open ocean, so their impact is large. Sorry, I don't have numbers here, but this should be easy to google.

And on the global scale, this is happening everywhere, so it happens also in polar regions. And on a time scale, this will only get worse, since the production doesn't stop and plastic doesn't degrade. So it doesn't go away for many hundrets of years. Careful here, some companies claim it degrades, but ask pointy if it just becomes invisible (so microplastic) or if it is really degraded in its chemical compounds. Which in the end means, plastic accumulates and the effects will increase.

This is an excessive topic, so sorry for the rather short answer. For further studies, start here: https://ps.boell.org/en/plastic-atlas

InconsistentlyRandom6 karma

Is the increase of tourism to Antarctica harmful for the natural environment?

APECS_Polarscience11 karma

Hei, hei, this is a very interesting question that I have asked myself and haven't come to a proper conclusion. Sorry, bummer first. This might be, because I have been to Antarctica, but not as a tourist, so it is hard to say what exactly happens when they come and how that could impact the environment. A quick google revealed this paper (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479722002079) which also comes to the conclusion that it is hard to estimate. But lets have a look what I can think about.

So the tourism is by ship, because only very few tourists fly into King Georges Island and hang out there. And since this is the base for most expeditions, their impact in addition to the stations, scientists, military, etc. is probably not really relevant. So ships.

Ships are generally impacting marine life by their noise, movements, and especially by the release (voluntary or not) of trash, oils, gas, paint, etc. into the environment. So this will have an impact. Luckily not soo many companies go to Antarctica s of now, so I believe that the impact of the fishing fleet (especially the illegal ones) are larger. And as far as I understand, there are also very strict regulations for these companies and they use very modern ships.

On land, when the tourists walk around, this is usually in small areas and designated landing bays etc.. There, the impact of the tourists directly can be high, but also very local. Birds nest there and might be disturbed, other animals as well, trash can be left behind, people leave their germs (wild toilets...), and many more things. There I can see an impact, although it is very local.

So in my opinion (and this is an opinion, not fact based now) I think it is not good, but also not the worst we are doing to the white continent right now.

michaelhbt6 karma

Beyond the science and into the funding, which nations are doing a good job of polar, particularly Antarctic research and which aren't doing such a good job? And is there much hope for privately funded research or is it still too expensive?

michaelhbt5 karma

And a followup - how are you treated as scientists in each program, is it the same all around or are some more everyone is equal and others have a bit more segregated?

APECS_Polarscience5 karma

It is difficult to compare all of the programs since each country has its own customs and culture. One of the greatest parts about polar science is that the research community is very diverse! You don't have to live in or be from the Arctic (or even remotely near Antarctica) to do research there. The Arctic, is a little different from the Antarctic since it is home to many Indigenous Peoples. However, many research programs, especially in Canada, now include Indigenous Peoples in the research process and incorporate Indigenous knowledge into science, policy, and management through respectful partnerships.

I'm not sure if that got to the root of your question so feel free to ask more follow up if not!

michaelhbt2 karma

thats excellent, I guess I am interested to hear about the culture that science exists in, the diversity that exists on polar stations and ships is nothing like you would experience in say a research vessel off a reef, being more isolated and extreme environment (analogous to a space station in some ways) and I wondered if that was something you noticed or saw being across all of polar research environments or if it varies much across environments?

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

Being in isolated and remote places like at the poles definitely presents its own challenges in research. Being on a research vessel or research station means you live and work with the same group of people for weeks to months on end. Psychologically, it can be difficult to handle. For Antarctic research stations in particular, this is something that is considered before allowing scientists to overwinter, for instance. For those who were in the field during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a bit apocalyptic to be hearing news of a global viral outbreak while isolated in the middle of the Arctic or Antarctic! Most researchers I work with, however, LOVE the lifestyle of time in the field and at sea. You get to go to some of the most remote places and see things few people on the planet get to experience.

I think like most things in life, the experience on a research ship or station depends on the people. In my experience, people are very creative with finding was to keep entertained when you can't simply go out downtown for dinner with friends or see the newest movie in the cinema. If you have a good group of people to work with, the experience will be fun, productive, and respectful (i.e., less hierarchical). But authority is also an interesting experience on ships in particular. The scientists on board only control the science. The captain and crew are responsible for safe navigating, etc. We still adopt some of the historic dynamics of seafaring which was very hierarchical. The captain is the ultimate authority.

In short, being on a research ship or a research station is certainly a very interesting social experiment!

APECS_Polarscience4 karma

Many nations are involved in polar research. In Antarctica, more than 40 countries operate research stations across the continent. Some of the countries producing the most Antarctic science, I would say, are (not in a particular order) Germany, United Kingdom, United States, and Australia which all have very large and active Antarctic research programs and infrastructure. However, there are a lot of other countries with dedicated Antarctic research programs and vessels too like South Korea, France, Italy, etc.

There are some private endeavors in polar research still, despite the expense! Some companies like National Geographic, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and others support Antarctic research. There are also a lot of efforts in Antarctica for citizen science in collaboration with tourist ships which are also a private source of "funding" for research.

Ok-Feedback56046 karma

In polar areas what should be the best diet to keep our body warm?

APECS_Polarscience4 karma

I am certainly not a nutritionist, but your body burns a lot of calories trying to stay warm when you are out in the extreme cold of the polar regions. Making sure you eat high caloric density foods (e.g., high protein and fat foods) before you go out onto the sea ice or on a long snowmobile drive to your sampling site, for example, will help keep your core warm. Dehydration is also something to watch out for. People generally don't drink enough water when it's cold because you don't experience thirst the same way as when it is hot and humid around you, and people don't want to drink cold water when it's well below freezing outside! So a thermos of water, tea or soup is your best friend to stay hydrated and warm while in the field.

grazyone5 karma

Which pole is the best one?

APECS_Polarscience12 karma

I haven't been to either of both, but I would say South Pole. If only because you can actually see it, the other pole is about 4000m deep in the ocean. But the ice up there is beautiful...

DaBi5cu1t5 karma

When the Polar regions melt, what will you do for work?

APECS_Polarscience9 karma

Luckily, I am a microbial ecologist and bacteria and archaea life everywhere. If I don't work in the Arctic, I work in the Amazon, or in the food industry, or in a hospital. So no biggy for me. But...the core of the question is, when do the polar regions melt.

I would love to leave this to the ice specialists that are coming in here later and maybe somebody can comment. To my knowledge, this will take some more time. How much, I don't know, but I doubt that I will see an ice free Greenland in my lifetime.

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

Ecologist here also, even after the ice has melted there is still an ecosystem there, it will just be different to the one we have now. A lot of research is going on to understand how a "new" Arctic might look. Particularly for algae, we are unsure if the ice loss will lead to more of them (since more sunlight gets to the water) or less. This is because as light hits water it will warm it up and cause what we call stratification (warmer water is lighter than cold water so forms 2 separate layers) and reduces the amount of nutrients which can come up from the deep water which algae need to grow. There is also research going on looking back into the past when temperatures have also been warmer and trying to understand what conditions were like and organisms that lived at that time were. We can use this to try and guess what might happen in the future!

oscar_w4 karma

Have you ever had a lucid dream? A dream where you were fully aware that your physical body was asleep in bed whilst the 'you' you've been familiar with your entire waking life is now aware within a dreamscape?

APECS_Polarscience7 karma

Being on a boat in the Barents Sea Ice feels like a dream, but you wake up pretty quickly when you hit -10°C winds or have to do your sampling.

polardani4 karma

Question from our social media: How can I join on a research cruise? Or learn more about how to join research projects?

APECS_Polarscience6 karma

Hi! This is Amanda, a benthic ecologist currently working in Tromsø, Norway.

If you are a student at a university, or even in high school, a great way to start getting involved in research is to talk to scientists at a local university and see what projects they are currently working on. If something interests you, ask if you can help! The worst they can say is no :) For example, bachelor students conducting thesis research often get to work in a lab or participate in field sampling trips. During my Ph.D., we had at least 4 undergraduate students working on thesis projects who were able to come on research cruises all the way to Antarctica. The more experience you get with research early and make your interests known to your professors, the more likely it is that you will be able to help on a research cruise. You can also look for outreach events. For example, sometimes research vessels are open for tours when they are in port, and research facilities (including universities and museums) host open house days when they showcase what research they are conducting. These can be great ways to learn what is going on at a university near you, or learn about something that might really excite you!

APECS_Polarscience5 karma


Research Cruise: First it depends on your expertise. Research cruises are very expensive, so space is given to those who can contribute in some way. These people are mostly scientists from the fields of Biology, Physics, Oceanograpyh, geology, etc. But there are occasionally also artists on board for outreach purposes. And of course the crew of the ships, should you be a mariner. If not, this gets very difficult. Sorry.

Research Projects: Same question about your profession and level. if you are a student, you could study at universities with polar themes or do your bachelors/masters/PhDs there in a field relevant for polar science. If you are a scientists, collaborations are usually welcome and you have to talk to your colleagues in the field. If you are neither, it again gets a bit tricky. Most scientist are open to discuss your contribution to projects, but they have to be meaningful. So I would suggest to look at universities you are interested in. You could start by looking at the different APECS branches to know the countries, and then go to polar networks, like SCAR, and check the members. And also Universities in polar regions. This way you can find groups and see what they work on. And then you think about how you could be of use for them and help them to achieve their goals. Or propose a project with their expertise and yours and why it should be combined. And with that you approach them and see what the situation is. In general, talk to people, scientists are usually friendly. Professors might only delete your mails as spam if you come across too industrial or "begging".

Not really a very motivating answer, I know. But for a lay person to become member of a project is difficult. Locally, you could check for citizen science projects, but i am right now not aware of a polar one, sorry.

fishywiki3 karma

When fishing in Arctic Norway the authorities have banned the taking of halibut larger than 1m because of the risk of biological magnification of heavy metals. Is the Arctic really that polluted with mercury, etc.? If so, what's the source of these metals?

APECS_Polarscience4 karma

Hi! This is Eva a Phd student in zooplankton ecosystem dynamics at UiT(Tromsø,Norway).

It has been shown that mercury accumulates in fish tissue, and humans who consume a lot of fish may consume elevated levels of mercury. The content f mercury is directly correlated with fish size. In 2006 it was reported Greenland halibut (GH) caught in the Barents Sea had shown mercury levels exceeding the European Union’s upper limit of 0.5 mg/kg wet weight. After this, a larger Study was initiated to gain more knowledge about mercury and other metal concentrations in GH. This larger Study showed that mercury concentrations in Greenland halibut fillets were higher than those found in other marine species living in the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, and North Sea and 14% of the analyzed fish contained elevated levels of mercury. In this study, it was found that mercury concentrations varied geographically, with much lower levels found in the shallower waters in the easternmost parts of the Barents Sea than in the deeper areas along the shelf slope. Because of this further investigation must be done to be able to know better know the sources of polluted metals such as studies relating to the diet of GH. But for the moment the source of these metals is associated with air emissions. So the reduction of Hg emissions will protect the environment and human health. You can look at this study model based which shows a temporal decrease in mercury in GH and they associate Hg in GH to Hg air emissions, decreasing trophic position, and lower demersal prey use.


Bank, M. S., Frantzen, S., Duinker, A., Amouroux, D., Tessier, E., Nedreaas, K., ... & Nilsen, B. M. (2021). Rapid temporal decline of mercury in Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides). Environmental Pollution, 289, 117843.

Julshamn, K., Frantzen, S., Valdersnes, S., Nilsen, B., Maage, A., & Nedreaas, K. (2011). Concentrations of mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead in Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) caught off the coast of northern Norway. Marine Biology Research, 7(8), 733-745.

and19842 karma

Are human-subject psychometric research conducted there? What research grants can a scientist apply to for the opportunity to conduct research in the Polar regions? Should one be looking out for NSF type grants or is this something more specific?

Thank you!

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

I am not aware of these types of studies being carried out in polar regions, but maybe I should inform myself better since I'm not sure. There are some research grants to conduct research in Polar regions but sometimes they are not very well spread I highly suggest you follow APECS news and Instagram (apecs.norway) we try to spread offers related to Norway.

APECS_Polarscience2 karma

I did a quick google search and found that there is some literature on psychometric research in polar research (some examples at the end of the post). I would guess national research councils would be the best option (like NSF) for this type of funding, but if you are interested you could contact some of the authors of these papers and ask for their suggestions! :)



The_Superginge2 karma

I wish I had something interesting to ask, but I have always admired scientists who go so far afield for study!

I suppose I do have a question: is loneliness or homesickness something that factors heavily in the experience? And do they prepare you for that before you go?

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

Most expeditions are 2-4 weeks only, but some are longer. I have only done 6 weeks in Antarctica and as an avid traveler, i have never been homesick. Loneliness is a different thing, but usually you are there with a team and not alone. I have also not heard of cases where colleagues had problems. But there is no preparation, that I know of.

APECS_Polarscience1 karma

at least for most expeditions, a medical check is required to go on the expeditions. This is particularly relevant for Antarctica since the nearest hospital is very far away! You can get homesick, like missing loved ones, pets or "creature comforts", but as the previous poster said it usually isn't so long and you are busy with work or admiring being in such a special place you tend to soak it up as much as you can.

polardani1 karma

Question from our social media: How difficult is it to get a position with field work in Antarctica? What about positions that aren't in research...

APECS_Polarscience2 karma

I personally have never been to Antarctica, I haven't tried it either, so I don't know exactly how difficult it is to get a job there. But taking into account the experience of colleagues and some of the job offers I have seen I think it is important to have some previous experience in polar environments as well as having some physical fitness and mental strength. I would say that in all or almost all long-stay selection processes both physical and psychological tests are carried out. For fieldwork, I guess it's like everything else in science, it's important to have a good CV and be lucky to find the research team at the time they run a project in Antarctica. However, not only researchers have the opportunity to work there. On the research stations, there are jobs for computer scientists, mechanics, cooks, divers, and much more. There is also more and more tourism in Antarctica and there is a need for guides with experience in extreme situations to fill these jobs. Safety courses and experience in polar regions/high mountain areas I personally think are highly valued when it comes to getting a job in Antarctica.

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

Chipping in, this is Stefan. See my post about expedition parrticipation and projects above. As a non-scientist, it is difficult. But in Antarctica, the stations often look for personell to stay in the station for a year. Question is then, are you up for a whole year.

APECS_Polarscience1 karma

This is Mareike adding on to this question: From my knowledge there are a lot of jobs that are not within research at Antarctic (and I guess Artic) research stations: e.g. Rothera Research Station has seasonal staff for air field operations, field guides, which are mainly coming from a mountaineering/climbing background to keep research and operations teams safe in the field, but also general assistants who keep the station running and organise kitchen, cleaning, supply and logistics. Some of the jobs will only operate in the summer season (e.g. airfield, some of the field guides), but some of the jobs will stay and overwinter as well (field guides, a chef, generator mechanics, ...).

APECS_Polarscience1 karma

many stations (both Arctic and Antarctic) will have those who work in food preparation, logistics and medicine - so not research orientated. Some of the big employers would be the British Antarctic Survey in the UK or the National Science Foundation in the US (https://www.nsf.gov/geo/opp/opportun.jsp) so there are options for non research positions.

Some organisations have also hired people to work on social media and communications to bring these environments closer to the public :)

DrinkHumblyDumbly1 karma

I’d love to explore datasets about the ecology and life in polar areas, especially of extremophiles. They’re so fascinating. What are some data sources/tutorials you’d recommend looking into for interested newbies outside of the field? And what kinds of questions can be asked/answered with these datasets?

APECS_Polarscience2 karma


pretty broad question. There are many datasets available in repositories, like NMDC https://www.nmdc.no/. Here you get all kinds of data in the usual format (Darwin Core Archives or netCDF). If you are looking for sequencing data (assuming you mean extremophile microbes) then I would check ENA (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena/browser/) or NCBI (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/). But there are many more around the world. Check if your country has a center. These center also often have courses or at least some documentation about how to use them and what to do with the data. And for a start up, best ask a science friend. Some of these things are tailored to specific disciplines which use specific programs etc., and so they are not easily accessible for people from outside. Which is a shame, but also has some practical reasons, like data complexity and ownership etc.

APECS_Polarscience1 karma

The field of bioinformatics is what we would call for using molecular data to understand more about organisms in different environments (including extreme environments). There are a number of free or relatively cheap courses online that can be used to start (Udemy has a course here.) If you search for "bioinformatic courses online" on google you should find some. Most molecular data is placed on open source repositories meaning they are available to everyone. Other datasets as mentioned in the other post can sometimes be hard to acquire not through an institution, but this is changing slowly to be more open I would say.

Many questions can be answered using this data, I would say the difficult thing is defining the question - there is so much data it is easy to get lost when exploring it. You might be interested in understanding if x species of bacteria is affected by temperature, or if the total microbial community is different between different kinds of ice - these are all things you could answer with this data.

mdotca1 karma

Do you know Kent in Iqaluit?

APECS_Polarscience2 karma

Do you know Kent in Iqaluit

Hi there!

This is Hugo currently working with the population dynamics of Emperor Penguins using satellite imagery analysis from Cambridge, UK.

Are you talking about the Iqaluit’s Brown Row condo units that haven’t had water or sewage services for several weeks, right?

mdotca1 karma

I wish I knew Kent’s contacts here. He’s a journalist.

APECS_Polarscience1 karma

Ah ok, Kent Driscoll. Unfortunately, I don't know... I did a quick research but I couldn't find anything. Probably, someone will know, let's wait!

Krisss_joss1 karma

What's the strangest thing, man made or otherwise, that you've come across while exploring in the Arctic?

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

I think you can find several strange things in the Arctic! Personally, it's hard for me to get used to seeing people around Longyearbyen (Svalbard) with a rifle on their back like the one who wears a backpack

APECS_Polarscience3 karma

Hmm...I think the cabins on Svalbard, where you sometimes hide from the cold for lunch or to warm up before going on are pretty unique. In some you feel thrown back to very early days of polar exploration. I also found the ice caves of Svalbard quite strange and interesting. You crawl through a small hole in the ground and suddenly after a few meters you are in a 5 m high cavern of ice with a lot of different colors. And in Antarctica the Russian church is quite a strange thing to see.

APECS_Polarscience2 karma

When on a reconnaissance flight with the helicopter along the shelf ice edge in Antarctica we discovered the leftovers of a research station/research container of unknown origin. I found it incredible that we were for days on the ship without seeing anything human made and then found traces of humankind left behind. Antarctica is an incredibly large continent, so the chance to discover something like this was rather small, I believe.

cuddlebadger1 karma

Do you talk to or interact with the Inuit and Innu that live in the Arctic?

Have you ever seen the smoking hills? What's that like? How about the trees from the eocene on Axel Heiberg?

APECS_Polarscience1 karma

How about the trees from the eocene on Axel Heiberg?

Right now, yes!

Historically, the Inuit and Innu have not been participants in the governance of Arctic shipping for example, but efforts are underway to better account for their concerns concerning the operations of vessels in their waters through partnerships. There is a higher need for Arctic Indigenous to be active in different forms of collaboration due to their knowledge of the ecosystems!

Also, I never saw the Smoking Hills or even Axel Heiberg island, but it should be an amazing experience!