Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


the icepod logo 072019In episode 5 of The IcePod, the podcast about polar science and the people, atmospheric scientist and project manager of MOSAiC Anja Sommerfeld explains why she set her alarm clock to exactly 7.13 am every morning during Leg 2, what it took to prepare 77 early-morning weather balloons for their ascent, and why working with Lady Miss Piggy can be a tough job. 

Here is the scary episode of the IcePod. In the fifth full episode of the IcePod, we talk to Anja Sommerfeld, atmospheric scientist and project manager of MOSAiC. During Leg 2 on board Polarstern, however, Anja had an additional role to fill: In the murderer game she happened to pick the 'wrong' ticket but fulfilled her job as a murderer brilliantly. Nobody ever suspected her, and so colleagues were rather puzzled when Anja approached to kill them, of course just by saying so. 

Anja not only had an excel spreadsheet of people to murder aboard Polarstern, but is in general one of the most organized people we met so far. For her job as a project manager she makes to-do lists for everything: for today, for next week, for the long term, and, guess what, Markus Rex has his own to-do list. Over time, she consolidated her strategy and through learning-by-doing, Anja grew as a project manager together with MOSAiC.

As part of Team Atmosphere during Leg 2, Anja woke up at exactly 7.13 am every day to launch 77 early-morning weather balloons from Deck A of the research vessel (in total, there are four radiosondes launches per day on board Polarstern). Special conditions require special preparations: Because of the Arctic low temperatures, the weather balloon needed to be pampered in a bath of oil and kerosene before actually being sent up in the air. 

Special guest of the expedition and Anja's highlight when working on the ice was Lady Miss Piggy. Everybody loves that big and hard-to-miss red balloon and her home, balloon town, which appears to be the prettiest place on the ice floe observatory. Preparing a flight with Miss Piggy can be a tough job though, as the drama queen is very sensitive to winds.


The IcePod is the podcast about polar science and the people. We’ll talk to scientists who went on board Polarstern, the German research icebreaker, for the biggest research expedition in the Arctic. It is produced in collaboration with the Alfred Wegener Institute and Radio Weser.TV.

Editorial responsibility: Kirstin Werner and Sara Pasqualetto 

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