On the road with Greenland's Survey
The conditions are so harsh that the gear has to be able to withstand pretty much everything
ASIAQ Greenland Survey performs many of the measurements behind the world’s climate surveys. But working in one of the harshest areas of the world is not for the faint-hearted.
Extreme weather conditions, a high degree of unpredictability and a helicopter as one of the preferred means of transport. Those are the working conditions for the nearly 30 employees in ASIAQ Greenland Survey.
The organisation does weather measurements, measurements for mine extraction and the establishment of water power plants, as well as environmental measurements for various researchers and universities worldwide.
If you ask IT technologist Angunnguag Boassen, this is extremely exciting work, which is nevertheless both stressful and at times completely and utterly unpredictably due to the always changing weather conditions.
"You always feel that you know what is about to happen when you go to work in the morning, but then something always something changes and challenges us in one way or another. One can say that our work is about measuring nature, but unfortunately nature does not care about our time frame. This is definitely not an ordinary 8-16 job."
Colleagues had to wait for pick-up for a week
A large part of the challenges have to do with Angunnguag Boassen and his colleagues only having a small window to collect data and maintain equipment all over Greenland. This includes weather stations and other measuring devicesthat continuouslyneed calibration and inspection, same asall datais transferredto computerunits in the field andsubsequently processed atthe headoffice in Nuuk.
"In the summer, we are in a hurry to travel all over the country to take advantage of the good weather. It is significantly easier for us to do our work when it takes place in plus degrees instead of 20 degrees frost. In addition, we often make water measurements, and, of course, this is not possible, if the water is frozen. We are also very challenged by rain and snow, and the fact that the weather can turn upside down in just a single day. The unpredictability has to do with the fact that we cannot be sure to get a lift home if the weather conditions suddenly change while we are out on a field trip. The helicopter will not stay there waiting for us. For example, we can leave in bright sunshine and wake up to a snowy landscape next morning. In one case, a couple of my colleagues had to wait a whole week to be flown back from a field trip. It also happens that we get halfway to the location and then get surprised by snow or sleet, where there is a danger of icing because the pilot can see that sub-zero temperatures are on the way. Then we have to regroup and wait until some other day to go out. "
Harsh conditions require robust computer equipment
With weather conditions like these, the work of ASIAQ Greenland Survey requires robust equipment that can withstand a little bit of everything. According to Angunnguag Boassen, in addition to rain and snow, the team's equipment must be able to withstand massive dust impact, same as part of the work takes place at sea when the ASIAQ Greenland Survey carries out water measurements or measurements in ports. Therefore, for several years, ASIAQ Greenland Survey has used computers from Panasonic TOUGHBOOK for transferal of data measured by climate stations in all kinds of weather. Simply because the devices are long-lasting and can withstand extremely harsh treatment.
"Since a large part of our work takes place in the field, our computers need to be able to function in the open without breaking and without error messages that are impossible to do anything about on site. We've been using Panasonic TOUGHBOOK lap-tops for seven or eight years without any problems, even though they've experienced a little bit of everything. Earlier this year, we switched to computers of the same brand – still without problems. Of course, we try to avoid it, but sometimes computers are dropped or thrown out in the field when things need to go fast. It is a great practical and mental advantage that we know that the devices can withstand a couple of beatings. In addition, it has proven important that the Panasonic computers have USB ports with covers on, so we also do not have to worry about dust or rain finding its way in. It's hard work, but also incredibly exciting. It has taken some getting used to working the way we do, where we are often away many days at a time and work in rather extraordinary conditions. Whether it rains, snows or is extraordinarily windy, we still have to carry out our tasks. There's something quite unique about that. "
The rugged Panasonic TOUGHBOOK computers have been delivered to ASIAQ Greenland Survey by Danish IT supplier Northcom.
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