Since 1998, a partnership with Russian scientific institutes has opened the door to fieldwork in the Siberian tundra. Up until mid 2013, AWI researchers and their Russian colleagues still did so at an old research base on Samoylov Island with the rustic charm of a remote summer camp.
Since 2013, the island has been home to a modern research base operated by the Trofimuk Institute for Petroleum Geology and Geophysics, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences. Whereas before, the researchers could only work in Siberia in the summer, the cutting-edge station now allows them to pursue their research year-round.
The new station is chiefly used by the Russian-German LENA research expeditions, which continue from spring to autumn every year. These trips are primarily organised by three institutes: the Alfred Wegener Institute, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (St. Petersburg) and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Yakutsk).
The base Samoylov Island is situated on the eponymous island in the Lena Delta. Located in the northeast of Siberia, the delta extends over 150 kilometres into the Laptev Sea and represents one of Russia’s largest conservation areas. The region is crucial to understanding the processes at work in the permafrost of the Siberian Arctic, making it a natural magnet for the AWI’s researchers.
The station can host up to 20 scientists. They conduct long-term landscape experiments and data collection at the station. To aid them in their work, they can draw on extensive datasets produced by automated measuring stations since 1998. In addition to processes affecting the permafrost, the conversion and emission of greenhouse gases are key research areas. Further, the researchers are investigating e.g. the effects of altered thawing processes on the landscapes of the Lena Delta. The researchers’ endeavours at Research Station Samoylov Island will help to estimate the effects of future climate changes on the Arctic ecosystem.
Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute not only enjoy access to a large, state-of-the-art laboratory with high-performance, high-precision equipment; the station’s fleet of vehicles includes quads and snowmobiles, a halftrack and several boats, allowing them to also conduct research beyond the limits of the island. A high-power Internet connection helps them keep in touch with their fellow researchers.
The station is located on the southern coast of Samoylov Island (N 72°22’, E 126°29’) in the central Lena Delta, and from Tiksi it can be reached by helicopter (45 minutes), by motorboat (4 hours) or, when the waters freeze over, by the AWI’s all-terrain truck (8 hours). From Tiksi, researchers can then reach Moscow or Yakutsk by plane.