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26 July, 2001

Makarov Basin

Thursday, 26 July 2001


Life on Board

Tonight I volunteered for babysitting duty for the helicopter for an hour. At least four hours before doing an atmospheric profile to determine quantities of various compounds above the ice, the aerosol team puts a large rack of equipment into the back seat of the helicopter, where it has to warm up for that entire time. Whenever this high voltage instrument is in the helicopter and operating, a person must be sitting in the helicopter as well, 24-hours a day. The reason is that fire is a possibility and the consequences of a fire in the helicopter are great.

So, you just have to sit there, without sleeping. The bad part is that the instrument puts out butanol fumes, a nasty smelling compound, and the pump for it is quite loud, so loud in fact, that you would need to yell to talk to someone. The good part is that it is not cold inside the cockpit, and I just started a new book, Michael Crichton's Timeline. Any other times available for babysitting? I'll volunteer. Well, maybe not the 3 am shift. I've already done that one.

Where Are We Now?

The seismic team is now completely exhausted due to their heavy workload so they have called it quits for a few days to sleep. They will resume operations when they have rested. As a consequence, we have been heading into the really deep water of the Makarov Basin because the Physical Oceanographers want to do some water sampling/CTD casts. The Lomonosov Ridge, which the seismic team has been mapping for several days already, divides the Arctic Ocean roughly in half. On one side, the Amundsen Basin is a sink for water of Atlantic Ocean origin, and on the other side, the deeper Makarov Basin holds water of Pacific Ocean origin. In reality, it is more complicated than that but it gives you a basic idea of the difference. These two basins have very different water masses with different salinities, nutrients, temperatures, and biology.

Scientists at Work

Because of the seismic break, the expedition leaders gave us an unannounced 24-hour station starting at 11 pm. The ship was anchored to the ice and all of the groups did ice work for the duration of the station. Since the Makarov Basin is so deep (~4500 meters, that is almost 3 miles deep!) and everyone wanted water samples, the Oceanography group made 3 sampling rosette casts. The deepest one, down to 4000 meters, took them many hours. Everybody took the rest of the afternoon to prepare for the station and maybe sleep a little, because once you get on station, it is expected that you sleep as little as possible and work as much as possible. I was mostly looking forward to not bouncing around on the icebreaker for a 24-hour period.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, in deep water,

Dena Rosenberger

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