Giving back - Roxana Cremer
As part of our sustainability work, PolarQuest offers space on board our vessels for scientists and/or environmental specialists - a project we call Giving back. In August, Roxana Cremer, a PhD Student in Atmospheric Science at Stockholm University, travelled with us on board M/S Quest. Now back in Stockholm, we have asked her a few questions about her work and the adventure she’s been on.
Could you please let us know your background and explain in short what your research is about?
– I am a meteorologist by training and am mostly interested in clouds and tiny particles (so-called aerosols) in the air. In my PhD research I am looking specifically into Black Carbon aerosol and how it impacts the Arctic environment. Black Carbon is an aerosol particle that is produced when something gets burnt: that can be everything from a candle, the firewood for the sauna, the car or on a bigger scale industry and natural sources such as forest fires. The particles are mainly produced outside of the Arctic circle but transported there and interact during the travel with other particles and clouds. The global impact is still an open question. We know Black Carbon is warming the atmosphere, but we do not know to which extent. To bring a little bit of light to the role it plays in the Earth system and climate change, I am looking on ten years of Arctic Black Carbon data.
Did a trip to Svalbard inspire you in your work and how?
– I more than ever want to preserve this environment and teach people about this amazing piece of the Earth, which we are currently destroying. My experiences and photos from this summer I shared with my colleagues, who are normally on Svalbard for work and do not have the time to go out for adventures such as mine. I designed a calendar for next year and show my photos in an evening gathering and I want to continue that on a bigger scale. A more direct impact is, for sure, that I look daily at my photos and dream a little bit back on my vacation whenever I am stressed at work or missing a little bit of motivation.
I already started a blog with a fellow PhD and friend in Leipzig to communicate science and our love for it. I want to, and I will, write about my experiences in Svalbard more but it is a hard job to combine it with my daily PhD routine. As most scientist I am very passionate about my research and very driven to produce impactful results in the since world, but sometimes we forget the outside of our bubble over that. Meeting all the people on the M/S Quest and hearing about their dream to go to the Arctic, their motivation made me realise again how important it is to share my science world with more, because everybody was so keen to learn.
What was your favourite experience or encounter on the trip?
– Our arrival at Ny-Ålesund really excited me: A town dedicated to research, nearly just scientist around, that was really a highlight. I would really like to go back there for working and experience the atmosphere since it is a very unique setting.
Favourite encounter is a really difficult question! I loved the fox encounters. Two baby foxes playing with each other was a once in my lifetime experience and the whales, my absolute favourite animal, we saw more than I expected (I expected zero!). Seeing a blue whale was just amazing, these huge majestic animals which for me just symbolise kindness.
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 53 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.