10 August, 2002
Saturday is morale day for the crew, and one thing that happens on morale day is that a group other than the cooks prepares the evening meal, serves it, and cleans up afterward. You might remember that we had a barbeque on the helicopter deck for the first Saturday we were on board. Tonight it was our (the science team) turn to cook. Throughout the week we discussed the menu and planned shifts for cooking and cleaning up. We needed alternates for all the activities since you can never plan ahead as to when your turn for sampling might come up. By the time we were done, most every member of the science team parcticipated in one way or another.
First let me say that I have so much respect for the cooks after today's experience! Even planning the menu was tricky. Although the cooks and many of the crew and science team were anxious to have pizza, some people wanted to try their own recipes. Since Christine Pequignet is from France, she wanted very much to have quiche and two special French desserts. Others opted for jalapeno poppers (deep-fried, stuffed jalapeno peppers.) Still others wanted ice cream and brownies for dessert and deviled eggs for an appetizer. What did we decide? We made it all! It took several of us nearly four hours to prepare 27 large pizzas, two huge trays of deviled eggs, six very large quiches, a big batch of brownies, and two exotic French desserts. We barely finished in time to serve the nearly 125 people on board. After serving, it took a cleaning crew of several people almost an hour to clean the pots and pans and the mess hall. Not only do the cooks do this three times a day (plus mid rats), but they use real silverware, trays, and dishes. We were lucky to use paper and plastic. By the time we were done, everyone was exhausted.
Science wise, we are now at the 2000 meter East Hanna Shoal station. That means that each procedure involving sampling water from varying depths or sampling the bottom takes considerably more time than at shallower stations. One of the things that we notice when we sample the sediments is that there are very few organisms at that depth. That's because there is less organic carbon being produced (there are less phytoplankton in the water) and ultimately reaching the underlying sediments (the little that is there is eaten by zooplankton and bacteria long before it reaches the bottom) than in the shallower stations. We usually find even fewer organisms at the 3000 meter station. Jackie's data, combined with all that from the other science teams will help to piece together a much better picture of what is happening between the shelf and the basin in each of the areas we sample. I have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Very little is known, scientifically, about the Arctic Ocean! This is the area of the world where global climate change may be most noticeable, and we have little data to know what is going on now, never mind what might happen as a result of global climate change in the future.
Someone reported a news item from a couple of days ago that said this is the warmest summer in the history of the northern hemisphere. Certainly those on board who have been doing research here for a number of years are finding this to be a most unusual trip in terms of weather and ice. When Jackie was sampling here in 1993, the area we are currently in was covered with a thick ice pack. Today as I look out my porthole, I see only a few small ice floes in the mostly open ocean. Certainly this could be just a warm summer for the area. It could also be a part of a cycle of alternating warm and cold periods. Or it could be a sign of a global warming pattern. You might remember that a team of CBS newsmen was on board with us for four days. They are hoping to do a one hour special as soon as possible, not only about the research going on but about the issue of global climate change as well. There are no easy answers, and it is only through scientific research that we can gather enough information to start to understand the chemical, biological, physical and geological factors that are at work in the Arctic Ocean.
On additional note: Steve Roberts took all the cooking photos.
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