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The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Halted Most US Arctic Field Research for 2020

May 26, 2020   |   Arctic Today

"Seasonal scientific field work in the Arctic — from the Toolik Field Station on Alaska’s North Slope to ice core drilling in Greenland — is being postponed or cancelled this year because of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic," reports Arctic Today.

... “'The pandemic is widespread in the U.S., but there are no active cases now in Greenland. We don’t want to be the ones to inadvertently bring COVID-19 to Greenland,' Mary R. Albert, Dartmouth professor of engineering, said in an interview.

... "Community involvement is a key part of a new NSF project in the 600-person village of Qaanaaq, Greenland, one of the northernmost towns in the Arctic. Led by Dartmouth’s Albert, the $2.6 million, four-year program will explore options for transitioning from expensive, polluting diesel fuel for electricity to renewables where possible. A two-week visit to Qaanaaq in April was cancelled, and the scheduled fall visit may be cancelled as well.

"In the meantime, Albert is keeping in remote touch with the Greenland lead scientist on the project, Lene Kielsen Holm of the Greenland Climate Research Center in Nuuk, as well as community team members in Qaanaaq. Albert had expected to install a small meteorological station in April to measure wind and other local conditions. Rather than waiting, she is shipping the weather station to Qaanaaq for local team members to install and start taking measurements.

"'I actually never thought I would see a pandemic during my life, yet here it is,' said Albert. 'It is very disappointing not to go to Greenland now, but it hasn’t killed our project. It will just be a delay.'"

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