Swiss Camp

CIRES Director Konrad Steffen has conducted research and maintained a station on the Greenland Ice Sheet since 1990. He and his colleagues lived and worked in roughly the same setup — three insulated tents and a plywood sauna — for more than two decades.

In 2009, much of the station collapsed when thick steel supports finally buckled. In the summer of 2009, Steffen and his colleagues spent two extra weeks in Greenland, rebuilding.

11Two new insulated tents (11) now support science work and a kitchen, and the bunk tent has been replaced with old-school but reliable "Scott Tents" from England (12). One or two people can sleep in each canvas tent, where the temperature typically hovers about minus 20 degrees Celsius.

12"That's a good temperature for sleeping," Steffen said. "If you want to, you bring in a bottle with hot water from the kitchen to warm up."

13Electricity from solar panels and a wind turbine
(13) power all electrical equipment at Swiss Camp.

1In 2009, the steel posts that had supported a platform with three insulated tents, six skidoos, and other equipment for over 20 years collapsed.

2A major loss was the six-person sauna, for bathing and warming up. Steffen said he hopes to rebuild in 2011 — there wasn't time in 2010. "The science came first," he said, "and we had so many things to do."

3When snow blocked the sauna's more accessible entrance, researchers and visitors climbed through the roof hatch.

4Swiss Camp supported three "tents," with 8-inch-thick walls made from layers of insulation and fabric. One served as bunkhouse, another as a "work tent" with computers and other equipment, and a third as kitchen. In the kitchen tent, Steffen dished up dinner for the then-Speaker of the House during a visit in 2007.

5Wind shredded several layers of the kitchen tent sometime between late 2007 and early 2008. A Rolling Stone reporter on his way to Swiss Camp brought in the blue tarp as a temporary fix.

6Instrument tower for climate measurements.

7Skidoo fuel..

8Melting ice left a pool of water under
the Swiss Camp in 2009. Snow levels
at Swiss Camp are dropping, through
some years, it still snows enough to
block doors.

8Propane for cooking and heating.

8Spare generator fuel.