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17 July, 2001

Fog Bows

Tuesday, 17 July 2001

Valkommen! (Welcome!)

Life on Board

I woke up to a bright, sunny day with patchy and intermittent fog. Beautiful ice flows in a true marginal ice zone area. The ice floes are getting thicker and open lanes of water more difficult to find. The ice, broken into smaller pieces, closes in behind the ship as we pass. I was treated several times to a light phenomena called a fogbow. These are complete bows, fuzzy thick and white, that occur opposite the sun, like a rainbow. I am assuming that they have something to do with reflection and refraction of the light off of water drops from the fog or off of ice crystals and then off fog, but no one (in all of these scientists!) has been able to give me a satisfactory answer as to why they are white and not colored, although one that I spotted had a band of yellow along the top. I tried to get a picture but they are difficult to photograph, white across white.

Our flock of birds has grown with the sighting of some Little Auks and Ivory Gulls, pure white and fairly rare this far north.

Where Are We Now?

Tonight, I went up to the bridge, on the seventh deck, one of my favorite places to look at the scenery and hunt for ice bears with the excellent binoculars that sit all around for anyone to use. There is almost a 360-degree view through the large windows. Lot's of seals hauled out along open leads, but no ice bears as yet. Hmmm - if I were an ice bear, I would be here with all of this food just lying around on the ice! The expedition leaders were sitting hunched around a computer, examining satellite images of the polar region, trying to determine ice coverage and thickness, looking for possible routes to the pole. The second officer was steering the ship, constantly looking for open leads and plotting our course on a large map. I checked the ship coordinates on the big monitor and saw that we were at 81o54' N by 27o40' E, and heading northeast.

Scientists at Work

We are making a transit to the north and east into the really deep water of the Arctic Basin. The physical oceanography group wants to make a CTD cast every time the ocean floor changes by 500 meters, either deeper or shallower. The station stops could come close together or farther apart, depending on the bottom topography. They have mapped it out so they have some idea of the timeframe, but these are just estimates due to the varying ship speed in different kinds of ice. My group wants to take seawater samples from the sampling rosette every other stop so we are kind of on standby.

I must set my alarm for 3 am for liquid argon bottle filling! What makes it a pain is that we have more than 30 sample bottles to top off now, waiting to be processed. Each must be carefully opened in the freezer in a small laboratory on the 4th deck, a small funnel slipped in under the lid without raising it any higher than you must, then on to the next sample. The large filling flask (4 Liters) is tied to an even larger flask (25 Liters) out on the deck, in a place we call the wind tunnel. There are so many samples now that the 4 L flask must also be filled after each topping session. Not that fun in at 3 am.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

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

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