360° Insights

The communal meal structures the day, especially during periods of perpetual darkness or brightness. Every morning, fresh rolls are baked.

Meal times on board are:

7:30 breakfast

11:30 lunch

15:30 coffee break

17:30 dinner

In a teaspoon of seawater, there are 1 million organisms. The finish sauna greeting “hyviä löylyjä!” means “good steam!” participants learn it from a finish ice researcher, who stays true to the finish tradition and visits the sauna daily.

At Christmas, there is a gift exchange with presents wrapped in September. The expedition team and crew gather in the workshop on Sundays for an old Polarstern tradition: the “Wiegeclub” (weighing club). The captain delivers a Christmas speech: “people who celebrate together have peace. And additionally: we have a common task, and that is to make this important expedition a success.”

A doctor also works on board of the ship. Injured or ill individuals can receive medical attention at the medical station, including a fully equipped operating room suitable for seaworthy conditions. However, most treatments are dental.

Data obtained through measurements are sent daily via satellite connection to Bremerhaven, China, Russia, or the USA. The connection to central arctic is poor due to lack of satellites. Participants on Polarstern can only communicate with their families via creaky satellite phones. Emails and text messages can only be sent in tiny data amounts. Thus, leisure time in the central arctic is mostly offline.

For those who enjoy sports, there is a fitness room, and water basketball in the on-board pool. Some researchers are seen playing soccer on the ice in front of the Polarstern in the evenings. In the blue salon, there is a library, and sometimes, people play music together – with guitar, ukulele, and accordion. Others knit or play cards. However, the favourite pastime for many is the sauna. It is a true treat after a day in the ice.

Before stepping on the scale, each person estimates whether they have gained, lost, or maintained weight over the past week. Those who guess wrong contribute 50 cents to a fund. After the expedition, the money was donated to a good cause.

Do you know the smell of the sea? It is a gas called dimethylsulfide (dms), which smells salty and like algae. Certain bacteria that consume dead algae, producing dms as a by-product form it. The smell of the sea is, therefore, essentially nothing more than bacterial flatulence. This process has another effect: dms in the air breaks down into small-suspended particles, called aerosols. Water can condense on them in high humidity, contributing significantly to cloud formation and indirectly influencing our weather.