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4 August, 2001

We Have Hit the Ice

This morning we were awakened by a call that we had "hit the ice". We looked out of the porthole to find an amazingly different sight from when we went to bed. The sky was gray and light snow was falling. The surface of the ocean was covered with a crust of ice that the Healy was breaking through.

I spent the morning filling metal tubes with wax. These tubes will be lowered in a weighted chamber onto the ocean floor. The hope is that this will force small samples of "glass" (a volcanic rock called obsidian) to break off of large rocks and stick in the wax. The chamber will then be raised and the glass will be collected for study.

The afternoon was spent on Seabeam watch. Today this watch included going out on deck every 15 minutes to observe the % of the surface of the ocean covered with ice. During my 4-hour watch, it averaged about 75% covered. Each time I went on deck to check, I couldn't help but admire the Polarstern as she glided behind us in the channel we were breaking.

About halfway through my watch, an announcement was made that a polar bear had been sighted! I ran outside and saw a bear way off in the distance. It was too far away to get a photo, but it was still an incredible thing to se. She was standing on an ice floe in the middle of nowhere, drifting with the current, obviously looking for food.

Speaking of food, Saturdays are a special time on the Healy. Usually this day of the week is set aside for pizza-- and a different group is assigned to cooking and cleaning up. Guess whose night it was tonight? Yes, the scientists were recruited to cook dinner-pizza and chocolate chip cookies. We also wrote a song to sing to the crew and serenaded them. Afterwards there was BINGO! It was an enjoyable time.

I found out that we will get down to business in 2 days-our science data collection will begin. Our goal is, of course, to reach a ridge on the ocean floor called Gakkel ridge. When we reach the west end of the ridge and start to collect samples, all of the scientists will go on 12-hour work shifts. My shift will be from 5:30 am to 5:30 pm every day. Almost sounds like my middle school schedule!


*Latitude: 82 45 N

*Longitude: 28 50 E

*Air temp: 35 F

*Water temp: 33 F

* UV (1=low/15=high): 3 >

The German icebreaker Polarstern follows the Healy through the ice.

Hitting ice for the first time was exciting! We will be breaking ice = for 60 more days!

Our first signs of ice. The scenery is awe-inspiring! <>

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