Martijn Pallandt is about to finish the programme Climate Studies at Wageningen University . Within this master programme he chose for the specialisation Earth System Sciences. For his internship, Martijn stayed three months in the very north of the United States: Barrow, Alaska.
“Barrow is located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the Arctic Ocean and endless tundra’s. You can only reach it by plane and the nearest hospital is two thousand kilometres away. This is where I spent my summer, measuring carbon flux and maintaining and repairing the equipment that I needed. Carbon flux measurements are important for understanding how climate change affects the tundra and arctic ecosystems, especially because these areas are experiencing severe changes. Usually, scientists use high towers for their measurements, to rise above the trees and plants. But the vegetation in the tundra is so low that we used towers that were only a couple of metres high.’’
‘’The internship was quite an experience. Even though I stayed in ‘the West’ there was quite a cultural difference because 60% of the population is Inupiat (similar to the Innuit). There was a strange mix of American and Inupiat traditions. Around Barrow, there were a lot of beautiful sights to visit. The sun was shining 24 hours a day, except for the first month when we saw sunsets that lasted for hours. I saw whales (which I also ate), polar bears, caribous and snow owls, which came very close. My work was very interesting and diverse: programming and analysing but also dealing with failing equipment when it is freezing cold or when you are surrounded by swarms of mosquitoes. I saw and did too much to describe in a short text!’’
“The courses in the master programme Climate Studies are diverse and offer you a lot of new knowledge and skills. Besides, there is space to choose some optional courses and there are many options for theses and internships.’’ According to Martijn, the course Field Training Earth System Science was really valuable as a preparation for his internship. In this course, he obtained experience in fieldwork, which was an important element in his internship. ‘’It was great to go to Spain to gain experience in the field, but the course was also quite heavy because a lot of work had to be done. I think it is good they make it heavy because then you know what you can expect of fieldwork.’’