Posts Tagged ‘julienne stroeve’

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More swells and an itinerant ice floe

September 17, 2012

The sun peaks over the horizon in this view of the Arctic Ocean from the MV Arctic Sunrise. (Photo by Julienne Stroeve)

It’s been a few days since I’ve written, and a lot has happened.

On the evening of September 11, we abandoned our original sailing plan of  searching for larger ice floes. We left the ice pack and headed west along the ice edge where we ran into a rather large swell. Once were in more open water, half the crew and guests were once again seasick. Luckily, we only spent half the night and half the next day along the ice edge, so I was able to resume my ice watch observations around 2 p.m. on September 12.

Along the ice edge at 82.27N, 21.27E, I observed  a lot of ice at 80 to 90 percent ice concentration. However, after a couple of hours the ice concentration dropped dramatically, typically to values of around 40 percent. I have been surprised by the vast expanses of open water that we came upon after entering the ice. The average ice concentration of the last five days has been about 65 percent, with about 36 percent of that ice being first-year ice, 14 percent being multiyear ice and 10 percent being brash ice (small broken ice floes). Air temperatures have been above freezing, even at 82.82N, 15.16E, so that there have been no new ice formation observed the last five days. Mixed sea and ice surface temperatures range from -2 to -3C.

Because our objective was to find a large ice floe, we once again sent the helicopter out to try to locate one that we could moor to. We finally had success on the 13th of September. This floe was about 100 meters long and 60 meters wide. One of Greenpeace’s objectives was to place flags from the 195 United Nations countries on a floe as a statement to turn the Arctic Ocean into a sanctuary—thus the need to find a large floe. They were able to place half the flags on the floe on September 13. The Cambridge University scientists placed their wave height buoy on the ice and I was able to make one thickness measurement (205 centimeters) before the drill got stuck and we had to spend a couple of hours digging it out. Then it was dinnertime.

After dinner, a large swell began to penetrate the ice. By 8 p.m. we could tell the floe we were moored to was flexing and it was only a matter of time before the floe would break. Sure enough around 9 p.m. the floe broke. A handful of errors caused the ship to lose the floe the following day, which still had the expensive buoy fixed to it.

The entire next day was spent searching for the floe. The weather unfortunately was not good; there were lots of low clouds making visibility difficult. The helicopter made several flights to search for it but was unsuccessful. Everyone was taking turns in the crow’s nest trying to spot it as well. We had all but given up when Grant spotted the floe around 6 p.m. on September 14.

Everyone quickly went about setting up the rest of the flags, while I drilled into the ice for another thickness measurement. This part of the ice floe ended up being a lot thicker than anticipated. After about 270 centimeters, we had to give up, as the drill couldn’t go any further. I had originally thought this was a first-year ice floe with a pressure ridge. I’m thinking now it’s likely a second-year year floe. I should note that this second hole showed biological activity in the ice (algae and other material).

Today is September 15 and I was hoping to take the helicopter out to individual floes for half the day to measure their thickness. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating. A storm is on its way and the visibility is less than 750 meters. Instead we will moor to a few more floes so that I can make a few more measurements and the Cambridge folks can collect a few more wave height data. Ten-meter swells await us when we leave the ice pack. Looks like I’ll be skipping dinner tonight.

Locations: 82.27N, 21.27E82.82N, 15.16E

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Stuck at port

September 4, 2012

Up at 3 a.m. – seems the usual wake time my first night in Europe. I’m sort of relieved we are still going to be at port today. September 4 was originally our departure date, but it’s been postponed until tomorrow. Part of the reason for the delay is that the helicopter has not yet arrived. Another reason is the weather. Waves larger than 4 feet mean this small ship will be tossed around quite violently. The crew keeps mentioning how sea sick most people get on the Arctic Sunrise. At the briefing today more mention was made of sea sickness – now I’m starting to get worried. I brought along the patches, I hope they work!

Today it’s been raining on and off all day. I spent part of the day setting up the radiometer for measuring sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and making sure everything was working. So far so good! Haven’t installed it yet on the rail of the ship since the conditions during our passage will mean the instrument will be wet the entire time. I’ve been told it will take about three days to get to the ice edge. I hope at some point conditions will be better so that I can collect some SSTs.

One thing I will be doing before we are able to get physically onto the ice is making two hourly Ice Watch observations from the ship’s deck using Ice Watch software from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. This will involve recording the ice concentration and type of ice types encountered. First-year ice will be determined from multiyear ice primarily on the basis of topography. I will also try to estimate the fractional areas of melt ponds (mostly frozen melt ponds), sediment-laden ice and biologically rich ice. In addition to the ice observations, photographs and video taken from the ship will help to further characterize the ice conditions. After all the talk about sea sickness I’m not too psyched for the journey out to the ice, but really looking forward to getting to see it!

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Arrival in Tromsø

September 3, 2012

The ship wasn’t easy to spot since it is not very large. (Photo by Julienne Stroeve)

I arrived in Tromsø around 2 p.m. I was expecting someone to meet me at the airport to bring me to the ship, but no one was there. Luckily Tromsø is a small town. Hailed a taxi and headed off towards where I thought the boat may be.  The ship wasn’t easy to spot though since it was not very large.  A quick phone call once we arrived at the port was all that was needed. When I got out of the taxi, a crew member helped me get settled in. Looks like I was the first non-crew member to arrive.  The others should arrive tomorrow, including a scientist from Cambridge University.

I got settled into my berth (#8), which I am sharing with another young woman from Holland who is here for her first time to work as a deck hand. The weather was cloudy and cool (in the 40s), a bit of a change from our unseasonably warm weather in Colorado. Tomorrow I will get my equipment up and running.  Dinner consisted of lots vegetarian options, perfect!  It’s 8 p.m. and time to try to catch up on sleep and beat this jet lag.

Location 69.67947o, 18.99595o

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Introduction

August 31, 2012

Geographer and glaciologist Julienne Stroeve travels to the Arctic Ocean this fall to study sea ice at its lowest extent since satellites started measuring it in 1979. Stroeve is a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and studies sea ice to understand how a seasonally ice-free Arctic will impact climate in the Northern Hemisphere. Stroeve’s research expedition comes at the cusp of fundamental changes to the Arctic’s sea ice cover–from older ice that is hard to melt, to seasonal ice that melts more quickly.

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