Skip to main content

The building of the Sermilik polar station in the Tasiilaq district of East Greenland is finished since fall 2022 and has already proven its polar suitability during the first Autumn-Piteraq.

Tasiilaq

Construction activities are well advanced thanks to the efforts of the local construction company from Tasiilaq. The finishing of the interior and the technical installations will continue in spring 2023.

Busy carpentry

In close cooperation with Lars Vestergaard’s construction company in Tasiilaq, the short summer season of 2022 has been used to build the new station building in timber construction. The construction company has many years of experience in building houses under polar conditions. It first operated in Nuuk and has now been based in Tasiilaq for about 10 years. It operates with a social commitment to provide life perspectives and apprenticeship opportunities for the local population and involves local subcontractors as needed. The construction team at the station consisted of Danes and Greenlanders from Tasiilaq. By the end of July, the outer shell was completed.

Location of the Sermilik Polar Station at the Sermilikfjord near Tasiilaq in East Greenland

A group of geography students from the university of Graz, Austria, spent two weeks at the station from July to August. The interdisciplinary study excursion led by APRI director Prof. Wolfgang Schöner and Ass.-Prof. Jakob Abermann was dedicated to glaciology, climatology and geomorphology and thus, is an important part of the study program. The facilities are ideal to teach field measurements and essential research methods at the polar station. Along the way, the construction progress was observed and documented with high interest and contact with the construction team was maintained. By the end of August 2022, the outer part of the building was finished and in spring 2023, the building services and interior fittings will be implemented.

Finished station building

Energy supply

The solar panels and the batteries for the energy supply and the heating with infrared panels and an air heat pump are expected with the first supply ship of the year. In front of the station, a scaffolding structure aligned for optimal solar radiation will be established to yield optimal solar power supply. A diesel generator will be used as a backup.

Plan for the energy infrastructure

The solar construction frames must be very stable to withstand the extreme katabatic winds, Piteraqs, and sufficiently high so that polar bears cannot cause any damage. The building survived the first Piteraq in autumn, on 24 September 2022, with wind speeds of up to 200 km/h, thus proving its polar suitability.

Piteraq wind speeds on 24.9.2022 (Source: Danish Meteorological Institute DMI)

The financial sponsor Christian Palmers planned to visit the station as part of a tourist trip in September 2022. The plan was to receive Mr. Palmers by local politicians of Tasiilaq and visit the station together. However, no helicopter was available at short notice and traveling by boat would have disrupted the ship’s schedule. As a substitute, the construction company Vestergaard in Tasiilaq invited him to coffee and cake and to discuss the progress. Palmers will therefore be able to visit the station only when it will be officially opened.

Next steps

The adaptation of the existing buildings will be started in 2023. The necessary construction material must also be delivered by supply ship, which is always associated with uncertainties due to weather and ice conditions.

Attention has also been paid to ensuring that the new station is not located in the run-out area of avalanches, which last occurred in the snowy winter of 2012. At that time, a garage standing near the steep slope was destroyed. This site is therefore not suitable for new buildings. In the original construction phase in 1972, the residential buildings were moved closer to the coast because of a similar avalanche.

The water supply for the station is planned to be provided by the installation of a cistern, as the springs in the surrounding area can run dry in summers when there is no more melt water from the snow fields.

The existing buildings are to be converted into housing for the scientific staff, equipped with new windows and roof repairs, and connected to the new power supply. This will mean that the current PV modules will no longer be necessary.

The opening of the station together with the sponsor Christian Palmers, the University of Copenhagen, UNI Graz, representatives of APRI and people from Austrian politics is planned for August 2023. We will report on this separately. Stay tuned.

Media information

Written by APRI-Media Officer Christoph Ruhsam.
Contact: use our contact form.
Photos: Copyright Wolfgang Schöner, Vestergaard.

About the scientific author

Wolfgang Schöner, University of Graz, Austria

Leave a Reply

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.