As our alarm clocks struck 6 40 we prepared for a wet cycle through the misty mountains of chateau-d’oex. Definitely a new experience for most of us. We set off, against our muscles wishes up the slope but the pain disappeared as soon as the fog lifted and the landscape came into view. The stunning green of the grass, the picturesque wooden farm houses and the rocky tips of the mountains disappearing under the grey blanket of clouds surrounded us as we speeded down the track. The track was muddy but we fought our way to the top of the hill for the descent. Droplets rushing through a stream of cold mountain air greeted us as adrenaline pumped through our bodies, a much more exciting morning exercise than yesterday’s church run.
Warm showers and a delicious breakfast awaited us back at the hotel so as soon as we were finished we joined Dr. Roswitha Stolz and Franziska Koch from the Department of Geography of the University of Munich for a workshop on climatic, geologic and geographic conditions of the Arctic region. We started with the basics such as the composition of sea ice, the characteristics of the north-west passage, definitions and a glimpse on its history. Next, we reached what most of us yearned to know such as the actual consequences of the global warming on this particular vulnerable region, the devastating effects of the current and planned economic activities and analyzed the evolution of very influential data such as temperature, extension of sea ice and concentration of carbon dioxide. Finally we ended the theoretical part of the workshop with a discussion on permafrost, which will be a great component of our research work in the expedition.
After lunch, we rejoined Roswitha and Franziska for the practical section of the workshop. Here, we investigated the depth of the active layer by taking humidity measurements at different depths and locations. We also calculated the soil insulation at specific places by dividing area into quadrants and evaluating the percentage of vegetation coverage and depth to later be applied in the expedition analyse the extent at which the permafrost is thawing. Questions poured through the whole workshop but Dr Roswitha and Franziska were happy to hear them and replied them with enthusiasm. We acquired a lot of very useful and interesting knowledge, probably impossible to obtain from anywhere else.
After dinner, we gave our videos the finishing touches to present them to each other. We really encourage you to see them and they will be available at the Mike Horn website.
Finally, the day ended on a high note with great expectations for the start of the Pangaea Raid, which you will also be able to follow with a live tracker from the community website.