From July on, Wenkai will work with sea ice expersts from
Wenkai Guo and Polona Itkin are testing field equipment on the sea ice in Ramfjorden near Tromsø. Photo: Andrea Schneider.

Where are you going to, for how long will you stay, and what will you be working on?

I’m going on an NFR-funded overseas research stay in the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bremen, Germany, starting in July 2021 for one year. This research stay is within the SIDRiFT project, and I will be hosted by Dr. Suman Singha at DLR, and co-hosted by Dr. Gunnar Spreen in the University of Bremen. I will be essentially continuing my line of work here at the EO group, while extending its scope by utilizing DLR’s expertise. Specifically, I seek to further include X-band SAR data into my current examination of cross-platform transferability of classification training. In this way, I will be able to utilize a wider range of SAR datasets to classify sea ice, and thus be better positioned to solve the task of detecting sea ice deformation from SAR image classification, such is one of of the goals of SIDRiFT.

What are your expectations about the research stay?

I expect to learn a lot from the many experts on X-band SAR processing and analysis at DLR. Sea ice research is also very vibrant in the host institutions and the nearby Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven. Through scientific communications with people in these institutions, I also expect to gain greater insights into this exciting field of research, which I have just stepped in. Based on the knowledge and skills learned in the research stay, I expect to better fulfill the goals of the work package I’m working on within SIDRiFT, and hopefully produce scientific methods and datasets useful for the project.

How will the year abroad benefit your academic career?

Besides the acquisition of scientific skills and knowledge, I do hope it will open up new scientific networks for me in terms of sea ice research, thus giving me a better idea of my current and future intended position in this community. I will be very privileged to have had the opportunity to do research in Norway and Germany within some of the world’s leading institutions in sea ice and cryospheric research in general. Hopefully these experiences will help me successfully transition into a more mature and productive researcher in this field.

What are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about the potential to meet and work alongside the many talented researchers in the host institutions. I’m always thrilled to meet new people with whom I share the same research interests, like in academic conferences or workshops. These opportunities have been and still likely will be a lot less than usual due to the pandemic, but this research stay is like a giant conference spanning for one year, where I get to meet and exchange ideas (hopefully face-to-face) with a lot of sea ice researchers in Germany!

We wish Wenkai good luck and many new inspirations from Germany!