Chapter 5: Professor Bo Elberling


“Greenland was an obvious choice for a field location for Bo Elberling, partly, because he feels a sense of responsibility regarding the Danish commonwealth, and partly because of a personal fascination.”   

»You could say that I lost my heart to Greenland. When we opened CENPERM in 2012, it was built on 20 years of experience from Greenland and Canada, and some obvious big, current questions about permafrost and greenhouse gases, as well as a network of the right colleagues. Suddenly, the preconditions to think big, diverse and long-term were there. I wanted to combine research at different locations across Greenland, because the climate gradient from south to north and from the coast to the ice sheet makes it possible to explore some interesting issues across the climate zones, which then can be used to conclude more general problems for a bigger region. This is what geography is about for me. « 

Bo Elberling likes to see science as a puzzle with a lot of pieces missing in our understanding. The pleasure of having a big puzzle comes from getting the pieces of the puzzle in the right place, or to get one important piece in the right place, and to then experience how a lot of other pieces make sense. It is actually less important that there are still some missing pieces. The way he sees it, it may not be that important that for all the pieces to be found, but simply putting together all the pieces that create a link may be enough.  It is, of course, nice to put the last piece down, but it doesn’t mean that much. The same goes for science. You have to hold on to the bigger things. If you don’t control the overall bigger things, then how are you supposed to understand and remember the details?”  

»My drive as a scientist and as a human is closely connected with my wanting to be fascinated, preferably by small and current experiences. One of my big passions is birds. I haven’t worked that much with birds in a professional context. It is their development, colors, senses, and ability to fly that interests me, even though bumblebees are probably just as interesting. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t matter whether it is birds or bumblebees. It is the fascination and joy about nature that matters. « 


You can read the full portrait of Professor Bo Elberling (in Danish) by downloading the chapter below.  

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