Local time: 22:32 2016-08-11
Position: 80° 40.07’N 007° 12.03’E
Speed: 9.2 knots
Water depth: 820 m
Wind speed: 8.2 m/s
Air temperature: -0.5°C
Feels like (wind chill): -6.05°C
Sea temperature: -0.9°C
We entered the ice the night before Wednesday, and laid stationary the whole day. As I believe I have mentioned before, two ships comprise the expedition. The other ship is Canadian coast guard vessel Louis S. St.-Laurent (referred to as LSSL or “the Louis” with French pronunciation; “loui”). Due to some (now-fixed) engine trouble, they had to catch up to us, which caused us to wait for a whole day in the ice. I believe no one objected to this, as the scenery is fantastic. Sometimes the research cruise feels more like an ordinary cruise, with all the scientists lined up along the railings, pointing their SLR lenses outwards and snapping away. I really can’t blame them (hey – I’m one of the ones shooting with my camera), it’s so beautiful here!
The wait was a perfect opportunity to get my first data series. I got a solid 20 hours of data before we were moving again. Good start! (I will write more about my work later.)
We sailed south to meet “the Loui” at dawn today (Thursday). (Question: Can you really call it dawn when there is no sunrise, only 24 hours sun?) We had a new waiting period again, but nobody cared. The weather was amazing; there was clouds covering most of the sky, but the sun was peeking through in some places creating an amazing light. The horizon had an orange/yellow glow. In some places, blue sky was visible. All of these colours reflected in the dark sea, which was dotted with bright white and turquoise ice floes. Ice floes are like snowflakes – not two are identical. At this point of the summer, and this far south, the floes are fairly “rotten”. You can see that their underwater parts are porous, and their surfaces are sprinkled with melt ponds and large openings to seal holes. The parts of the ice floes that are under water have gorgeous colours, ranging from light baby blue to an intense turquoise. The picture does not really do it justice!
It has been surprisingly little cold (it was warmer and less wind previously than now). I was outside for 15 minutes, wearing only a cotton t-shirt, fleece hoodie and sandals (with socks…).
The first (and so far, only) polar bear sighting occurred around 0600 today. I had been on the bridge about half an hour before, to stop my measurements because we were supposed to sail. I then went down to the (windowless) gym, and when I came out I met a very enthusiastic, grinning face; “DID YOU SEE THE POLAR BEAR?!” Damn, I missed it! They do not announce it over speaker due to people working shifts and someone is sleeping at any given time. Everyone is very excited about the polar bears, so an unofficial notification phone chain has appeared for signalling each other when we finally see another polar bear!
We got to try the Swedish traditional Thursday dinner; “Ärtsoppa med pannkakor och glass” (pea soup with pancakes and ice cream). The dish also came with a small glass of warm “punsj” (punch), made on a mix of palm and rice wine. The punch was sweet and tasted a bit like cinnamon, and the pea soup was delicious, containing large chunks of bacon. Anything with bacon is instantly ten times more delicious!
Now, after testing some of the multi beam and seismic equipment, we are currently steaming directly into the ice. The ice concentration and floe sizes are noticeable higher here. It must be a perfect paradise for a polar bear. Will report again soon, hopefully about seeing a polar bear!