an article by Klaus Nygaard,
director of Greenland Institute of Natural Resources


Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation has for a number of years supported the establishment of facilities for a large-scale nature and climate monitoring and research programme at Zackenberg/Daneborg in the High Arctic Northeast Greenland.

The programme, Zackenberg Ecological Research Operations, at Zackenberg is considered the most extensive cross-disciplinary ecosystem monitoring and research programme on climate change effects in the entire arctic and antarctic region. Each year since 1995 a number of scientists from different institutions in Greenland and Denmark have measured c. 3,500 different physical and biological parameters in the marine and terrestrial compartments of the arctic ecosystem at Zackenberg. The data has already been used in a large number of international scientific publications, and in 2008 the Zackenberg research group published a book in English, ‘High-arctic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Changing Clmate’, on Academic Press with support from Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation. The book synthesises the results from the first ten years of research and monitoring at Zackenberg.

In 2007 a similar programme, Nuuk Ecological Research Operations, was established in low arctic West Greenland at Nuuk, the Capital of Greenland. The concept for this programme is more or less a copy of the concept for the programme at Zackenberg. However, having the same measurements carried out both in The High Arctic and in The Low Arctic gives the scientists excellent opportunities for studying how future climate change will affect different parts of Greenland.
The Nuuk Ecological Research Operations programme is carried out in Kobbefjord only 25 km out of Nuuk. This will, eventually, when the programme is fully established, give excellent opportunities for combining the research aspects of the programme with an educational component allowing Greenlandic students at different levels to participate in the investigations and thereby learning by doing the functions of an arctic ecosystem.
Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation has during the last ten years supported both Zackenberg Ecological Research Operations and Nuuk Ecological Research Operations mainly with establishment of the research infrastructure but also with several smaller contributions to specific research projects. At Zackenberg, the fund has supported the building of different facilities including an accommodation building (175 m2), a combined power station and workshop (75 m2), a canteen building (100 m2), a boat house (150 m2) and a small research vessel. In Nuuk, the foundation has supporting the building of a small field station (75 m2) and a powerful motor boat for transport of project staff between Nuuk and the field site.’


Zackenberg Research Station has extended its facilities again

Extensive marine activities at Zackenberg Research Station has since 1994 been carried out from very primitive facilities in Daneborg, c. 20 km south of Zackenberg. In 2006 Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation made means available for construction of a 144 m2 house for winter storage of boats and a small laboratory. However, accommodation was still in a nearby abandoned weather station, ‘Kystens Perle’ (‘Pearl of the Coast’), which originally and until 1975 was used for accommodation of staff from a local weather station. The conditions of this house was even from the beginning very bad, and despite several attempts to renovate the house its conditions has become worse and worse during the last years, mainly due to permafrost penetrating its basement. In 2008, it was finally decided that the house was not appropriate for accommodation, and the scientists moved out of the house to sleep either in tents or among the boats in the building from 2006.

During the same period there has been an increased interest for carrying through marine investigations in the region. This is partly due to an increased interest among international scientists to be involved in the activities at Zackenberg Research Station and partly due to Greenlandic and Danish scientists having the same interests.

Accordingly, Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation decided early in 2010 to donate 5 million Danish kroner for construction of a 154 m2 house to accommodate up to ten scientists. The house was inaugurated in 2011 and contain five double rooms, a combined dinning and living room, modern laboratory facilities and storage facilities for provision and scientific equipment. The construction of the building has already started at a small entrepreneur, Venslev Tømrer and Snedker Entrepriser, in Denmark. In July the different parts for the house will be transported by ship to Northeast Greenland where the house will be assembled during a short and intensive campaign in the last three weeks of August.

Also the main station at Zackenberg extended its facilities in 2010. A storage facility for scientific and logistics equipment has for long time been on the list of wishes, and early in 2010 Aarhus Univeristy made means available for a 50 m2 storage facility. This house will also be assembled in August 2010 by the same entrepreneur who also constructs the new building in Daneborg.