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1 August, 2001

Drift Station Wednesday, 1 August 2001


Life on Board

Rumors are that we may have visitors! We heard that the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal left from Russia today, bound for the North Pole, filled with rich tourists who have paid for the chance to go to the Pole, and perhaps they will drop by for a visit. That would be really interesting for both sides, I think. I wonder what they will find at the Pole.a Swedish flag? A bronze horse? A signpost pointing to Lakeside, California?

Where Are We Now?

After our fun at the North Pole yesterday, about 6 pm we started transiting to an area around 89 degrees north and 0 degrees longitude (east or west?) to start our 20-day drift station. The reason they chose these coordinates is because they want the natural normal ice drift pattern, which is counterclockwise around the pole, to carry us towards Svalbard while we have the ship turned off. Since we need to go to Svalbard anyway when we are finished with the expedition to hand the ship over to another group, they don't want to end up in Siberia and have to power all the way back. There are no absolutes in the Arctic, so we may end up in Siberia anyway. Early this afternoon, after traveling all night, we found a suitably large ice floe near the desired coordinates and anchored to it for the long drift. Our actual coordinates are 88o59' North by 1o49' East.

Scientists at Work

As soon as the gangplank was down, scientists started putting out equipment. They had wanted to use the helicopter for some of the bigger stuff but it is really foggy and it is snowing so the heli won't fly. There is supposed to be a storm moving in by tomorrow afternoon with gale force winds expected so they want to get as much as possible done today and tonight in case we need to batten down the hatches for a few days. The main feature of the ice camp is a large tower for meteorological (weather) data, which they are calling the main mast. It will stand 18 meters (about 50 ft) high when complete, with multiple levels and instruments on each. It will take several days to erect and will be used to obtain a vertical profile of wind, temperature, pressure, and many other types of data. They will have a hut on the ice next to the tower that houses all of their computers. There is a 300-meter long high-voltage power cable running out to this little complex from the ship, and it took help from the crew and scientists to put it out on the ice. They have it strung along in holders so it looks like a fence. When I asked them why it needs to be off of the ice, they told me that it gets so warm that it would just melt down through the ice and drop to the seafloor 4 kilometers below, dragging towers and computers with it. Oh.

The ice core drilling team also went out. Tuomo Roine, University of Helsinki in Finland, used his gas-powered corer to drill some test cores. After adding 3 1-meter extenders to the original corer, he still hadn't broken through to the ocean. He drilled 4 meters! That's about 12 feet of solid sea ice. Someone told me that the ice is actually 6.8 meters thick here (I'm not sure how they know), which is about 20 feet. Thick enough to ski on either way.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, adrift in the ice, 88 North, Dena Rosenberger

Construction on the main mast. Notice the flags. Feel the wind?

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