6 September, 1997
It's beginning to become apparent how difficult it is to do Arctic marine research. Doug Sieberg and Darren Tuele, the senior technicians, have several decades of experience in this environment and keep the deck operations moving smoothly. The major obstacle comes from not knowing the ice conditions from one station to the next. That makes it impossible to predict how much time must be allotted for transit. A pack of multi-year ice can slow the ship's speed to two knots and reduce our sampling to one station per day. We are only 400 miles east of our destination for this leg of the transit, however, satellite images show that ice has closed the channels to the west. Our option is to go south around Victoria Island, a 1200-mile route to the same destination. Before we can head south we'll have to backtrack east through an area that has also been blocked by ice. The route will be chosen tomorrow after an aerial ice reconnaissance. Whichever way we go, I suspect we'll have a rough ride.
When we reached our last station today a large rosette of twenty-four 10-liter water-sampling bottles were lowered to the bottom. The rosette is designed so that one bottle will close every ten meters and collect a water sample at that depth. As the rosette is lowered, the temperature, salinity, optical transmissivity, and chlorophyll are measured electronically. After the samples are returned to the surface, it takes a team of four analytical chemists about five hours to determine the amount of oxygen, nutrients, and organic contaminants at each depth. These data are then used to help understand the dynamics of the water as it moves in the Arctic.
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