Thule Research Station, Technical University of Denmark
STATION NAME AND OWNER: Thule Research Station is owned and operated by National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark.
LOCATION: Thule Research Station is located on the coast in the northwest of Greenland at Pituffik - Thule Air Base 1,207 km north of the Arctic Circle and 1,524 km from the North Pole (N 76.5352, W 68.7864). Pituffik and the research station are situated in a valley between two ridges called the North Mountain and the South Mountain. The station is located close to the ocean and the harbour, the latter being the nothernmost deep water harbour in the world. From Mount Dundas, featuring the distinctive profile with steep, eroding slopes and the flat sloping top, you can see into the fiord north of Thule and the three meeting glaciers that are calving enourmous amounts of icebergs.
BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: The climate in the Thule area is high Arctic and can be described as an Arctic desert. Humidity and rainfall is very low in the area, and the air is very dry. On average, temperatures in the area range from 4 ° Celsius in summer to -27 ° Celsius in the winter. In the winter, temperatures may come down to -50 ° Celsius. During the four months of summer, it is daylight 24 hours a day. In winter, however, it is almost completely dark around the clock.
Despite the low temperatures and the continuos permafrost, the Thule district has a rich fauna and many different plants. Both animals and plants "wake" of hibernation in May and is thus extremely busy growing in the short Arctic summer. Summer is at its peak in July and August, with temperatures mostly above 12 degrees.
The Thule District is home to many species of birds, especially waterfowl such as eider ducks, geese, ducks, glaucous gulls, terns, ravens, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, ptarmigan, and puffins. Animal life also features many Arctic foxes (white as well as blue), hares, musk oxen, and, occasionally, polar bears. Seals and walruses are plentiful and, if you are lucky, you can also see both narwhals, white whales, and even orcas.
HISTORY AND FACILITIES: The Thule Research Station was established in 1995 when a permanent GPS station was built to support the International GNSS Service (IGS). The IGS has a global tracking network of GNSS stations and provides precise orbits, clocks, models for ionosphere and troposphere to support point positioning at the millimeter level for various geophysical research activities. Over the years, additional equipment such as meteorological sensors, tide gauge station, DORIS satellite beacon, seismometer, and a geomagnetic station has been added to the infrastructure.
The research station consists of a small hut, housing all processing and data communication, and a small, unheated storage hut. Additionally, the infrastructure houses episodic international science campaigns such as the NASA Icebridge Project. The station also contains facilities for repeated absolute gravity measurements, to provide long-term facility for monitoring Greenland Isostatic Rebound, closely connected to the permanent monitoring with GNSS and DORIS, The current gravity time series was started in 1988.
The station is manned approximately 6-8 weeks per year and has 100 bednights per year.
GENERAL RESEARCH AND DATABASES: The surroundings of the Thule Research Station offer both terrestrial and marine environments, which makes the research station ideal for botanists, zoologists, geologists, geophysicists, and physical geographers. The station is the entry port for activites in Northwest Greenland, e.g. for studies of polonya and sea ice in the Nares Strait and the Kennedy Canal. The station delivers long-term and unbroken time-series for precise positioning, sea leavel data etc.
HUMAN DIMENSION: The Thule Reseach Station is located at Pituffik, which is operated by Greenland Contractors and manned year around.
North of the research station is the town of Qaanaaq and, further north, the nothernmost settlement of the world Siorapaluk.
ACCESS: A valid residence permit is required to visit the Thule Research Station. You can reach the research station in two ways: With a chartered Airbus 330 from Copenhagen to Thule, or with an Airbus from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and from there the next day ahead with Dash-8 to Thule.
About once a month (Wednesday) at 8:25, the Airbus 330 departs from Copenhagen and flies directly to the Thule Air Base. On the same day - after a short stay - the plane returns to Copenhagen. Flight time is approximately 5 hours each way.