From August 1 to September 15, 2020, the Swedish icebreaker Oden was going to participate in the international research expedition Synoptic Arctic Survey. However, Odens participation in the expedition is now postponed due to covid-19. The reason is that the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat has not been able to find a solution to eliminate the risk of possible contagion spread on board.
– We have worked intensively to investigate several quarantine opportunities to avoid possible contagion on board, but we believe that none of the solutions can eliminate the risk. The decision was made following a dialogue with the Public Health Agency of Sweden and in consultation with our medical advisory group at the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, says Katarina Gårdfeldt, director.
The icebreaker Oden is one of eight icebreakers who would participate in Synoptic Arctic Survey where the purpose is to answer important questions about how the entire Arctic basin responds to climate change and how disturbances in one region can spread to another. In the Swedish part of the expedition, the icebreaker Oden would be in an area northeast of Greenland. The decision now affects 39 researchers from Sweden, Germany, Canada, Norway, the UK and Denmark. The Swedish researchers work at Stockholm University, Linnaeus University, Gothenburg University, Uppsala University, Umeå University, Sweden’s Agricultural University and SMHI. An upper-secondary (Swedish gymnasium) teacher, who received the secretariat’s teacher’s scholarship via an open call, would also participate in the expedition.
– The decision affects the researchers and their projects, but based on the extraordinary circumstances, we unfortunately do not see any other solution. Conducting a research expedition safely is of utmost importance. We are now looking ahead and working to be able to carry out the expedition another year, says Katarina Gårdfeldt.
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