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27 July, 2001

24- Hour Pack Ice Station

Friday, 27 July 2001

God dag! (Good day!)

Life on Board

Some people hear it, some people don't. Some people have no opinion, some are faintly amused, some like it, some just ignore it. At specific speeds, when the ship is moving through ice or through heavy seas, if you are in certain places like the galley, the ship sings a beautiful song. It must be some kind of reverberation in the hull, but it sounds like humpback whales singing. It has tones and overtones and undertones, different pitches and melodies. It is not loud but it fills the room. One of the messmen who works in the kitchen, Martin, can imitate it almost perfectly and sings with the ship as he works. I am enchanted by the sound.

Where Are We Now?

We are sitting anchored on an ice floe at 87o54' N/154o46' E. The ice pack is very heavy with multi-year ice, which is very difficult to break through since the ice changes its structure during its second year and becomes much more dense. Last night between midnight and 3 am (when I went to sleep for a few hours until I was interrupted by a knock on my door for helicopter babysitting), there was an absolutely stunning 8 o'clock in the morning kind of sunshine, high cirrus clouds, and blue sky. By midafternoon, it was snowing and blowing and pretty cold out. I stayed on the ship doing lab work and didn't venture out much due to my having a cold, although it is about 10 steps from my cabin to get to my container outside on Deck 4 and about 6 steps outside on Deck 1 to get into the main lab, where I was filtering and preparing seawater samples from the CTD casts.

Scientists at Work

As soon as we got on station, the ship was anchored and the gangplank was put out so that scientists could start moving their equipment onto the ice. So the ship can keep track of who is where and how many are working on the ice, at the top of the gangplank there is a radio that you must call the bridge on, say your name and "On ice" or "Off ice." Of course, your group must also have a radio and a shotgun. Michael Jensen, from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science in Boulder, sent his kite up a few kilometers from the ice; Johan Knulst, the microlayer chemist from Sweden, used snowmobiles to take his small surface sampler boat out to an open lead a quarter mile from the ship; Tuomo Roine, from the University of Helsinki, also used a snowmobile to get out to a site for ice core drilling; John Militzer, from NCAR in Boulder, set up the Portable Automated Mesoscale (PAM) station, a small tower 3 meters high which measures air temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed, radiation, and also the energy transport between the ice and the atmosphere at 20 times per second and records the data.

Since I was on seawater duty, when we got on station I lowered the Secchi disk, a white metal disk about a foot in diameter on a rope with meter markings. This is a very low tech tool used by oceanographers to estimate the clarity of the water. You just lower the disk into the water until you can't see it any more then count off the meters as you pull it in. This gives an idea of how much plankton or other material is in the water. Then I got water from the sampling rosette and filtered it for later analysis.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, above the Lomonosov Ridge,

Dena Rosenberger

John Militzer setting up the PAM station about midnight.

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