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The Old stationThe research activities here on the Samoylov Island are not a novelty. Already during the first polar year 1882-1883, measurements were conducted in the Lena delta and from then on the delta has hosted research in one form or another. 
For a long period of time the Biological Institute in Jakutsk was the main entity conducting research on various scientific fields on the delta. From 1985 the Samoylov Island has been part of the Lena delta reserve, one of the biggest nature reserves in Russia with area covering over 14 000km2. The Lena delta reserve, in cooperation with several universities and AARI – The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, conducts research on Samoylov in order to monitor the changes taking place in this largest Arctic river delta.
Image 2AWIAlfred Wegener Institute has been involved in research on Samoylov since 1998. AWI cooperates with the Russian partners in organizing field expeditions to Samoylov, which form bases for a large part of the analyses done in the periglacial section at AWI in Potsdam. Permafrost related processes have been the main focus already for a long time, but gradually the research is becoming more interdisciplinary and today AWI conducts, in addition to permafrost research, field measurements in geomicrobiology, geomorphology, hydrology, paleo-climate dynamics, and energy and water balance.
The new station from above. Picture: Leena-Kaisa Viitanen, AWI.The facilities on Samoylov Island were long quite rudimentary. The “Old Station” was built in 1985 to operate as the main hub for the researchers from the Lena delta reserve, who mostly still during this time accommodated in tents around the station. Around 2000 the Old Station was expanded in order to house also a small group of people and today there is, in addition to a small lab, kitchen and a common area, beds for 6 people.
A true revolution in terms of facilities on the island took place in 2013, when the new Samoylov station was inaugurated. The main station building is star shaped with a common middle area and three wings for accommodation, laboratory and maintenance. In addition, there are two large garage and storage facilities in the courtyard as well as a water supply system together with generators. In addition to the state of the art laboratory, there is now accommodation for approximately 30 people, permanent year-around staff and all modern necessities.

The station is run by Trofimuk Institute for oil- and gas geology which is part of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and it is the main Russian Arctic research station today. The station is run on year around bases and provides for the first time possibility also for over-wintering in scientific purposes on the Island.
Image 3 Garage at the new station. Picture: Leena-Kaisa Viitanen, AWI.Image 4 Samoylov island is not only famous for the research. There grows also lollipops. Picture: Leena-Kaisa Viitanen, AWI.
The joint Russian-German Expedition Lena Delta is divided roughly to six periods covering the months from April to September. Usually, each monthly period brings a new crew to the island, only few engineers and scientists staying longer than one month at the time.

In our July crew, we have scientists from many different fields, in addition to three engineers whose task is to make sure that all instrumentation will work properly and will produce data also during the winter months, when the station is usually empty of scientists.

The German part of the July expedition includes five scientists:

20120720 Moustakh 003 VKochan p.jpg smallDr. Hanno Meyer is a geoscientist at AWI, whose main research area is paleoclimatic reconstruction and the evolution of Arctic temperatures in special. He analyzes isotopic composition of the permafrost ice in the Arctic in order to define the age and temperature at a given time.
During this July expedition Hanno will focus on a new installation and calibrate a new laser optical instrument in the meteorological container of the station, which will measure the isotopic composition of the ambient air. Only this new generation of laser spectrometers allows for the first time continuous and mostly autonomous measurements of the air itself, whereas in former times scientists were confined to sample precipitation events.

Lars Kutzbach P by MMGamezProf. Lars Kutzbach, Uni Hamburg PI in our PAGE21 project, is an expert on CH4 and CO2 emissions from permafrost landscapes. He has been conducting eddy covariance measurements on Samoylov since 2002 trying to find out whether there can be found long-term changes in the CH4 and CO2 emissions. In fact, he has already detected pronounced inter-annual variability of the fluxes of these greenhouse gases, the methane emissions regularly increasing and the CO2 uptake decreasing during the warmest summers.

Ph.D. students Josefine Waltz, Mercedes (Nana) Molina Gámez and Tim Eckhardt are from University of Hamburg. Tim and Josefine both investigate the greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost soils. Josefine’s PhD project aims at evaluating maximum possible amount of emissions from different soil types excluding the ecosystem respiration, while Tim’s project measures the actual out coming emissions from these soils in to the atmosphere. Nana on the other hand will investigate the quality of the organic matter in permafrost thaw landscape in order to characterize the chemical carbon stability on the soil. For this, she will drill permafrost cores in different landscape formations and fractionate and analyse them back home in the lab.
Josefine Nana and few mosquitos
While doing science surely requires an extensive amount of thinking, the fact is that large part of the work is very practical and technical in nature.

The state of the art instrumentation used today in science requires a highly skilled technicians and engineers, who, while preparing and operating the instrumentation, also have understanding on the natural processes behind the data. It is thus more of a rule than exception that the engineers working in science have at least master’s level education also in natural sciences on top of their technical skills.

We have three engineers in our group on Samoylov, and without exaggeration it can be said that very little would happen here without them.

MMGamez Samoylov 2015 29.unnidMolo, alias Günther Stoof, has participated regularly in the Lena delta expedition for the past 15 years. He has thus great experience in basically everything that might come up both in and outside the work here on the island. He is really the backbone of the German groups on Samoylov and as a fluent Russian speaker an important connection between the scientists and the station staff.

Niko Bornemann is an engineer in Julia Boike’s SPARC group and another very important part of the AWI Samoylov crew. Niko is responsible for all running instrumentation of the group and usually visits Samoylov more than once per season. This ongoing expedition is already his seventh visit here and the second one this summer. With his calm and patient manner he deals with anything that comes up in the equipment and is the helping hand also for other groups, whenever there is a need of fixing something.

Peatland Pete, alias Peter Schreiber, is the newcomer in the AWI crew, being the second engineer of the SPARC group. He is, however, not a newcomer here on the island having participated in Lena delta Expeditions since 2009 as part of the University of Hamburg group. At AWI his main task will be a development and installation of a high tech measurement station on Samoylov, which consists of a tower for bio-meteorological measurements, trace-gas measurements and environmental parameters. In addition, he will be in charge of a container that will be built in the field to house instrumentation that either does not tolerate or is otherwise difficult to install outside. The new tower as well as the container will be part of an international research infrastructure project.
P1000978.small Niko taking the balloon to the garage
Pete working on the 10m high eddy tower P1000950 small
the probeThe second of my tasks on Samoylov is conducting a small scale lake measurement campaign by using a new probe from the station here. This probe can conduct continuous measurements to many hundred meter depth and can give thus information on the vertical water body.

I will take a profile of five different lakes here on Samoylov and conduct repeated measurements in one of them in order to collect data on possible changes in the profile both between the lakes and also between time scales (though very short ones).

The probe is quite new and the first step was thus to figure out how it actually works. I was lucky enough to be able to team up with two of our Russian colleagues, Sasha and Olga, who are also doing lake measurements and have used the probe before.
Sasha managed the configuration and calibrated the instrument together with Natasha, the station laboratory person. My task ended up only been the actual measuring, which is very easy and straightforward.

Despite being easy, this is work that needs to be done in pairs. No one is allowed to use the rubber boats completely alone and life vests are part of the standard clothing for this type of work. I have had fun days with Sasha and Olga, Waldemar, Josefine and Nana in taking measurements. Here below are some pictures from those days.
Sasha and Olga the vehicle
 lake measurements  Nana small
 lake  the vastness