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5 July, 2001

In the Ice!

Thursday, 5 July 2001

God afton (Good evening)

Life on Board

Last night we continued heading north and somewhere during the evening the sea calmed down a little. I had volunteered for the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am lab shift and we were still in stormy open water when I went to bed. Rumors were flying around the ship about when we would first hit the sea ice but no one knew for sure and apparently satellite data was unreliable. I was hoping to be awake when the first ice was spotted but I couldn't stay up any longer. The plan was that as soon as we got into relatively heavy ice we would stop and take some data. They call this being "on station." I also knew that my help would be needed collecting seawater samples when we arrived at the first station so I decided to get some sleep. Well, as luck would have it, we got into the ice shortly after I went to bed. The ice edge is further south than normal due to the fact that the storm we just endured had blown the floating ice chunks to the south and packed them together. The phone ringing at 3:35 am awakened me.

When I stepped outside, I was greeted by a wonderland of white jigsaw pieces varying in color from bright white to pale blue, some as big as a football field and some as small as a chemistry book. Jumbled up at the edges, broken by jagged lines of open water, we had reached the Marginal Ice Zone. Two ice bears had already been spotted in the distance.

Scientists at Work

By 4:00 am, the Physical Oceanographers had already made a successful cast with the 24-bottle rosette sampler (The time that you get up and that you go to bed doesn't really mean much because the light is the same all of the time. Sleeping is like taking naps during the afternoon.). Although it is still cloudy, the ice sheets have dampened the waves created by the storm and we are sitting fairly calmly. Happy day! The reason that the rosette sampler is so important is that all of the science groups use the seawater collected in the Niskin bottles at specified depths. We collected about 1.5 Liters from bottles which had taken water at depths of 50 meters, 40 m, 30 m, 20 m, 10 m, 5 m, and 0 m (surface). These samples will be prepared like the others for later analysis.

Some of the science groups were lowered onto the ice using a big metal box attached to the crane on the deck. One group was taking ice core samples to analyze the different layers of ice representing different years, kind of like looking at a tree's history by analyzing the growth rings. Another group had scuba divers under the ice vacuuming sea algae from the underside of the ice floes. Of course, there is the ever-present polar bear spotter on the ice as well.

The plan is to leave this first station at 10:00 pm and push through the ice chunks for about 4-5 hours before we come to our next station.

Where Are We Now?

This station's position is 77o54' N latitude and 29o38' E longitude. It is extremely foggy outside but not raining as I sit in my container (heated!) on Deck 4 of the Swedish Icebreaker Oden at 9:30 pm. We have a planning meeting at 11:00 pm.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

Dena Rosenberger

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