The summer evening is warm enough for the soldiers to sit outside with their shirts off.
One person is playing the guitar, another is reading. There’s a relaxed, vacation vibe despite the location: 575 miles from the North Pole at a Danish military outpost in northeastern Greenland called Station Nord. The generator hums in the distance, and occasionally the two Greenland dogs begin to bark. The sun circles the Arctic sky.
The day-to-day operations of this base are mostly scientific. The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth, and for researchers studying the impact of climate change, the base has the advantage of being remote—at nearly 82 degrees north and inside the world’s largest national park—and accessible, because of its runway. It’s no exaggeration to say that whatever happens here affects the whole world: The Arctic is part of a global cooling system, and as rising temperatures accelerate the loss of sea ice, that system is breaking down. This is a perfect place for visiting researchers from around the world to gather data from the ice, sea, and atmosphere to measure changes over time—data that scientists hope will help them predict what’s in store for the planet.