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  • Writer's pictureAPECS Belgium

Crossing Greenland: A call for scientific partnership

Making polar science sustainable and ensuring that the results are accessible and understandable to the general public are two issues increasingly emphasized in the scientific world. But the lack of time and resources are often the main obstacles to achieving this. If this resonates with you, and you work on Greenland, this could be your lucky day! As they prepare to cross Greenland from West to East in April 2024, Aurian and his team are launching an open call for a scientific partnership. Their idea? To collect samples throughout their crossing and combine the scientific aspect with the human experience in a photography book. An opportunity to collaborate on a specific project but also to develop a long-term partnership.

About Aurian

My name is Aurian Merlin Cerise. I'm a young photographer and film-maker from Brussels. I studied cinema before turning to my first love: photography. So I started working as a press photographer, which enabled me to travel the world. I became interested in the polar world after meeting Gaël Loicq in 2021, an amateur Belgian polar explorer. At the time, I only had a very basic knowledge of these territories. Geographically, but also in terms of fauna, flora and the complexity of environmental and geopolitical issues.

Credits: Aurian Merlin Cerise

A first attempt in Svalbard

Gaël had already been on several polar expeditions in northern Canada, Iceland, Lapland and Svalbard. It was through his tales of adventure that I gradually developed a passion for these regions. The North had always attracted me. My mountaineering experience and a few high-altitude treks in the Andes and Asia had given me a taste of the conditions.

So it was only natural that I should accept Gaël's offer to go on a polar expedition with him and a friend, Morgane Ruiz. After months of preparation, in March 2022, we finally set off for Svalbard. Our aim was to reach the town of Pyramiden from Longyearbyen and back completely independently.

Unfortunately, things didn't go according to plan... After 8 days, we were caught in a storm with winds exceeding 118 knots. With some of our equipment blown away and our tents torn apart, we were forced to call for help. Luckily, more fear than harm even if the event was impressive. Undaunted, I immediately decided to go back.

Credits: Aurian Merlin Cerise

The second expedition in Svalbard & the movie

One year later, I set up a second expedition with the idea of making a documentary. I left in March 2023 with Gaël for a 22-day expedition in total autonomy in Svalbard, with the same idea: to reach Pyramiden and return to Longyearbyen. Once again, nothing went according to plan. But that's certainly what made our expedition so rich, and in the end, it was these unexpected turns of events that formed the storyline of my documentary about our adventure: "80 degrees North".

Credits: Aurian Merlin Cerise

The Greenland crossing

When I returned from this adventure, once the post-production of the film was finished, I could only think of one thing: going back. A passion was born that I nurtured by reading about the great polar explorers or their writings, with scientific articles, reports or meetings with scientists, polar adventurers or guides.

So I set up a team made up of Morgane Ruiz, a Frenchwoman and polar guide, and Olav Bleffert, a German photographer and mountaineer. Our idea is to cross Greenland from West to East and document it in a photo book. We'll be setting off from Copenhagen on 22 April to begin our crossing on the West coast at Kangerlussuaq. We'll finish in Isortoq, on the East coast. We've decided not to make a film for this trip, but a photo book with the Berlin publishing house OptikControl. Through the book, and therefore our adventure, we want to show the fragility of the polar lands and the impact of global warming on them. We're convinced that art and adventure are effective ways of talking to people, informing them and encouraging them to take action in terms of climate change. We already have a network community of over 150,000 people and we want to use it to increase our impact.

Credits: Icetrek

A call for scientific partnership

With this in mind, we are looking for a scientific partner for this next Greenland expedition.

Firstly, we want to provide data and contribute to ‘clean’ science. We could sample snow during our crossing to analyse atmospheric deposits (e.g. dust), equip ourselves with a GNSS beacon, collect water on either side of the glaciers to analyse sediments, etc. We are open to any proposal, which we will of course thoroughly analyse in order to make sure it is feasible during our expedition.

Secondly, we strongly believe that incorporating this scientific aspect to our expedition, and describing it too in our photo book, will go a long way towards popularising polar science and enable a public that is perhaps normally less sensitive to be exposed to the the scientific aspect.

We want to build bridges between the scientific players and our public, to whom we are very close, through the emotions that a book, report or visual might arouse.

Thirdly, we have the idea of developing other expeditions in the future with the sponsors and partnerships that we have. So we'd like to develop a close relationship with the Belgian scientific community in order to repeat and multiply our expeditions.

Credits: Aurian Merlin Cerise

If this call speaks to you, you can contact Aurian directly at: or reach out to us and we’ll make sure to connect you. You can also follow him ( & Olav (@cpt.olf) on Instagram. And most of all, stay tuned for a future outreach collaboration between Aurian & APECS Belgium, where you might get the chance to meet him in person... news will be shared on our website!

Aurian & APECS Belgium

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