In search of large ice floesSeptember 11, 2012
The last two days were spent searching for floes larger than 100 meters. However, since we reached the ice edge we have not found any large floes. Most have been around 20 to 50 meters in size. Today I set foot on a larger floe that was 65 by 55 meters. This floe was likely second-year ice, with a mean thickness around 2 meters. It had five frozen melt ponds. On top of the floe was a granular surface of 1- to 2-centimeter grain size ranging between 8- to 16- centimeter deep. I drilled through the largest frozen melt pond (though not entirely frozen as water came up when I drilled through the top layer), that had a total ice thickness of 165 centimeters.
According to the satellite data, we should have already reached nearly 100 percent ice concentration, yet at 83N, the ice concentration remains less than 40 percent. It could be that the heavy fog has resulted in an overestimation of the ice concentration from the passive microwave satellite observation.
As the temperatures have dropped further in the day (below -5 degrees Celsius), frazil and grease ice have increased the total ice concentration to 80 percent. Helicopter reconnaissance shows no large ice floes within at least one day of sailing.
Several polar bears were sighted today, including a mother and her two-year-old cub. Amazing to watch them from the ship. So curious!
Just heard that a storm is on its way. Appears to be some light snow now. Our plan is to start heading west in hopes of reaching some larger ice floes.