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12 July, 2001

Happy Trails

Thursday, 12 July 2001

Valkommen! (Welcome!)

Life on Board

Well, tonight we had a formal dinner party to officially say goodbye to some of the scientists who will be helicoptered off the icebreaker to Longyearben in Spitzbergen in several different flights on Saturday and Sunday. The reason we did it tonight is because tomorrow night we should be on another station and often people don't have time to stop and have dinner during stations. The menu was a beautiful traditional Swedish buffet with cheeses, many kinds of pickled and flavored herring, potatoes, and Swedish meatballs. The cooks outdid themselves. The tradition is to eat the herring then break into a traditional toasting song to the honored guests. So, many songs in all of the Scandinavian languages were springing up from groups around the room. Apparently, this is taken fairly seriously since everyone else in the room is quiet while a song is being sung. The five Americans onboard, Kristen Riser from Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, Michael Jensen from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in Boulder, CO, Scott Abbott from NCAR in Boulder, Brian Thompson from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and myself, all felt pretty lame since we donít have a traditional Goodbye Toasting song. After much thought and discussion, we decided that we should sing, "Happy Trails (until we meet again)" to honor our new friends that were leaving. Everyone in the room was silent as we sang the entire song then they applauded at the end. I guess we did alright for the U.S.

Where Are We Now?

The scientists finished up on the ice as the fog closed in this afternoon. We left for an Open Water station this evening but first the Oden drove by to pick up some scientists from the Biogeochemical group who were working on top of an iceberg (maybe 20 feet tall) that had become trapped in the pack ice. They were cutting blocks of ice from the iceberg for analysis. They believe these large blocks of old ice may contain ancient gases trapped in pockets that can give clues about the atmosphere in the past. We were at Marginal Ice Zone Station D (81o17íN/24o53íE) all day, moored to a fairly small floating ice floe.

Scientists at Work

After lunch, I went onto the ice with divers Yanna and Kristen to help them and photograph their endeavors. Their job is to vacuum off and collect the brown algae that lines the underside of the ice and collect any other specimens that they see, using a nail stuck into a broomstick as a spear to collect the small polar cod which live close to the ice bottom. They also have an underwater videocam, which they use to photograph the blue and white under-ice world. While they were diving, two Arctic diving birds, Black Guillemots, paddled over to investigate, already having learned that the vacuuming process can stir up goodies for them as well. They float around on the surface, scanning with their heads under the water, then suddenly disappear from the surface when they spot something good to chase down below.

As we were rapidly steaming to our next station later that evening, someone spotted a polar bear out on the ice and put out the call. I didn't have time to get my camera but it was a large male with a seal kill on a small ice floe close to the boat. On the next floe, a female and cub waited.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, somewhere north of Spitzbergen, Dena Rosenberger

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