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22 July, 2001

Surface Slick Sampler

Sunday, 22 July 2001


Life on Board

I came off the ice at our last station with about 15 other scientists about 8:30 pm when they told us to pack it up. We were all really hungry since we had missed dinner (it was Sunday dress up dinner so most of the guys weren't all that sad that they missed it). Anyway, we all immediately headed for the kitchen, knowing that the cooks would have left leftovers out for us. We bustled around getting various foods and drinks. Just as we settled onto a couple of tables in the mess hall with our trays, the fire alarm started blaring. The mess hall is on the lowest level (Deck zero). My cabin is on the fifth level (Deck 4). When the fire alarm goes off, you must run to your cabin, get your survival suit, put on sturdy shoes and jackets, then run to the helicopter deck (Deck 2) with all of the above for roll call then wait for instructions. It was a drill.

Where Are We Now?

We just completed Permanent Ice Zone Station 21. It was a 6-hour station because the ocean is deep here and it took that long for the CTD/rosette cast. As a consequence, teams of scientists were allowed to work on the ice for the entire time. It was great to have enough time to collect some really good data. We got on station at 3 pm and left about 9 pm. Amazingly, our coordinates at the station are 88o23' North by 95o14' East! When I was preparing for this expedition, I read several books about explorers and others trying to make it to the North Pole or find a new route to another place through the frozen Arctic by foot, sled, or wooden ship. I often think about those people up here while our 12,000 ton icebreaker plows its way ever north and I sit at my computer with a CD playing and gaze out my warm, bright container's window.

Scientists at Work

The same scientist that I collected microlayer samples with yesterday, Johan Knulst, wanted to get more microlayer samples just like yesterday, so we did that at an open lead in front of the ship. Since we had time today, he also wanted to collect microlayer samples in another way: his Surface Slick Sampler. A 1-meter long, radio controlled catamaran, the Surface Slick Sampler (SSS) can be driven up to 600 meters away in open water using a control box that you connect to a harness hung over your shoulders. On this small boat, there is a computer and instruments that collect information on wind speed, water temperature, and salinity. The most important part of the boat is a large cylindrical drum that is coated with a material that picks up only the surface layer as the boat is steered around the open lead you are sampling from. On the back of this drum is a scraper that funnels the collected water into large bottles inside the boat. It moves fairly slowly so it is not like powerboat racing, but it is still fun to work the controls. Johan will then take this sample and test for bacteria and nutrients that plankton need like phosphates, nitrates, and silicates. We had it out putt-putting around for about an hour, controlling it from the deck.

When we were trying to bring the SSS back to the Oden, the wind was blowing pretty hard so it had some difficulty getting back to the ship. We ended up steering it into a small ice sheet some distance behind the ship where it got stuck underneath the edge. Johan and I had to walk back there with boat hooks and dislodge it, then drag it up onto the ice edge. It weighs about 100 pounds so we waited for the crane to pick it up.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, somewhere north of 88,

Dena Rosenberger

Controlling the sampler from the aft deck.

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