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18 July, 2001

Transit to Lomonosov Ridge

Wednesday, 18 July 2001

Valkommen! (Welcome!)

Life on Board

It was cloudy, drizzly, and breezy today. We are getting into much thicker ice and doing some serious icebreaking. It is actually harder to sleep when the ship is breaking ice than on any other portion of the journey. Imagine trying to sleep in the back of an old pickup truck. You are traveling along a dirt road, complete with washboards and potholes. Oh, there are also large anthills sporadically placed in the road. Occasionally there are patches of smooth, leftover pavement, just long enough to lull you into thinking that you are on a highway. Fairly often, the driver swerves violently to avoid large rocks, and is seldom successful. If he can't make it over the trees that have fallen across the road, he backs up and makes another run at it, full speed ahead and pedal to the metal.

We did get to see a mother bear (unfortunately called a sow) and cub on the ice but didn't slow down for a closer look.

Where Are We Now?

The plan is to make a transit directly for the Lomonosov Ridge, where the seismology group will be making soundings. This ridge, rising above the surrounding ocean floor, is approximately 1,100 miles (1800 kilometers) long. It roughly divides the Arctic Ocean into two parts, one side distinguished by Atlantic Ocean water and the other side by Pacific Ocean water (Richard Vaughan, The Arctic: A History). It provides a site of great interest to oceanographers trying to understand the circulation of water and air in the Arctic, which affects the entire global climate. It will take us approximately one week to reach the Ridge. Our last station was Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) Station 9, about 5 pm, 83o46' North/31o59' E. I hope we actually have an Ice Station Zebra for all of you Alistair McLean/Sean Connery fans out there. I will try to post an image of the completed and planned cruise track with this journal entry. You will be able to see how close we will be to the North Pole by then.

Scientists at Work

We are still taking seawater samples every other station from the sampling rosette/CTD. My group uses what is called a Secchi disk to make an estimate of the clarity of the water. The disk is a white circle of metal, approximately a foot in diameter, attached to a rope that is marked off in meters with tape. The scientists lower it over the side of the ship while we are on station and watch it as it descends, counting the meters of rope that go into the water. When the disk is no longer visible in the depths, this represents where only 1% of the light is available. This is the bottom of the euphotic zone, where organisms like to concentrate. If there are many organisms in the water, this zone is closer to the surface of the water. Knowing this information, the scientists then decide what depths to collect water samples to look at the organisms. In this Arctic water, the bottom of the euphotic zone has been about 100 meters each time we have checked with the Secchi disk, so even though the sampling rosette may go down much further, we only take water samples from 100 meters, 20 meters, and surface.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

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

Dots represent stations with longer stations numbered.

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