Researchers in the Arctic

Hi there, Hanna Farnelid, now back in Kalmar after two months onboard an icebreaker in the Arctic

The expedition to the Arctic was Sweden’s contribution to an international coordination of research expeditions with the aim to map out the status of and changes to the Arctic ecosystem.

Sweden has the world’s strongest icebreaker on which research is conducted. Therefore, the expedition could cover particularly challenging areas that up until now have been virtually unexplored.

Hanna Farnelid, associate professor of marine ecology at Linnaeus University, was one of 39 researchers onboard the icebreaker Oden that returned to Kalmar about a week ago.

How does it feel to back from the polar expedition?
“It’s a bit bewildering with the abrupt changes. Just about a week ago, there was daylight around the clock and we were surrounded by a white a blue world. Even though it is autumn here in Kalmar it is warm in comparison to the cold summer we have experienced in the Arctic.

But of course we are all very happy to be back home again get to hug our near and loved ones!

We have truly made the most of our time during the expedition and have collected a huge amount of data and samples, which means that we will continue to work with these projects for several years to come. Many of the samples have not been possible to analyse onboard, which means that we will now initiate our laboratory work here in Kalmar.

A lot of people are curious about what our trip has been like and during the next few weeks, in addition to the continued research work, I will visit schools to talk about the expedition”.

What was the purpose and the mission of the expedition?
“The ecosystem study that we have conducted is the very first of its kind. To increase knowledge about the biology and the functions of the ecosystem is a precondition for understanding how this will be affected by climate changes in the future.

It’s incredibly exciting to visit places where no one has ever been before. The expedition has collected entirely new and unique data. For instance, on several occasions, the depth on the nautical charts was not correct at all.

One thing that was particularly interesting was that the group of phytoplankton that I study made up a significant share of the total biomass in the ocean, which means that they play an important role in the food chain”.

What was it like to live on the icebreaker Oden for two months?  
It’s been both exciting and fun. In addition to the sampling for our research, the meals onboard have been our everyday points of reference. Since we have had very limited access to connection and worked both day and night it has sometimes been hard to keep track of the day as well as the time”.

Arctic and polar bear


What is your most vivid memory from the expedition?
“Some of my strongest experiences are the encounters with curious polar bears that came up really close to the boat. So cute and cuddly but very dangerous!

Other strong memories are when we spotted land for the first time in several weeks (northern Greenland) and the first sunset in eight weeks.

The mood onboard has been fantastic and everyone has been supportive and helpful, we have truly established bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime. We are very grateful and happy that we have had the opportunity to be part of this adventure and we are proud of the research that we have conducted”.