23 June, 1998
We arrived on station this afternoon after a long night of crunching ice and a tedious job of parking the ship. We are once again in very heavy ice, lots of pressure, and not many places for broken ice to escape. We were looking for 1000 m of water and we have found it. We followed Barrow Canyon out to where it drops off into the basin and as usual, the current is wreaking havoc with the parking drill.
The first thing in was the CTD rosette so Tara could get her last batch of water before it became any more disturbed. The ice crew was able to off load by way of the crane and what a pleasure that was. Simple, very few moving parts, and a relatively low-key operation. As the ROV was being readied we put in a 60 m transect and started punching our cores. The ice ops went smooth as silk and we were back on board in less than two hours time. It was a foggy, windy, and kind of nasty day so less time on the ice was a good thing. Not at all like our sunny, Sunday, lunch on the ice day.
A very nice perk was that I was able to view the feed from the ROV as it cruised the line we set out. There was great visibility due to the clean, 1-m thick ice and the ROV camera was able to pick up stakes 15 meters down the line. The ice algae was not terribly thick yet still very present but the most noticeable thing was how fresh and green it looked as the camera got close to it. There was a ridge near the end of the line that was about 3 m thick and the little nooks and crannies were covered with strands of bright green algae. This station by far had the best visibility and clarity under the ice. Most of the ice here is quite uniform in appearance with very little ridging or rafting present. The melt ponds were of average size (3-5 m square) and they were a bit slushier than some of the others we have worked in. I checked depth and bottom strength before wading in too far and so I was able to keep the dogs dry!
The big news for the day came our way during a special scientists meeting with the Captain right after lunch. Polar Sea is going to be used to help out with the upcoming SHEBA rotation and will not be going to Nome for a couple more weeks. Polar Sea will be going to Barrow towards the end of this week and picking up about 40 American, Canadian, and Russian scientists and taking them to the Des Groseilliers, a Canadian icebreaker currently located at 77o N and 166o W. Most of the current group of scientists, including Aaron and myself, will be off loading at Barrow. Polar Sea will then take the new group up to the SHEBA ship and swap them out for about the same number of off loading scientists looking to get back to their homes in the more southern latitudes. Needless to say this has caused quite a stir amongst our group due to the science ending early, travel arrangements out of Barrow, and lodging while there. I am making available all the floor space I have but I don't think it will be quite sufficient for all 16 of the southward bound group. I guess we will just have to see how it all shakes out and when most of this group can get flights out of Barrow.
SHEBA is the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic program that has been going on since October of 1997. It is a very big undertaking that has included scientists from all over the world spending 6-week intervals aboard the ship. The ship itself was driven into a multi-year ice floe at N 75o and W 140o and has moved with the ice floe since last October. A runway was established near the ship to land an Otter that has been used to transport people to and from Deadhorse which was the original staging area. As breakup started this spring the staging area was shifted to Barrow and the ice runway has deteriorated beyond use. So the Polar Sea has been called upon to assist and AWS 98 will finish up for the science team in Barrow instead of Nome. A lot of mixed feelings aboard the ship concerning this change. Some people are a bit bummed out and others look forward to the chance to go even farther north. It seems to correlate pretty directly with each person's marriage status. The beakers are rushing around, trying to get what they can packed, leaving enough out to do a last possible station at 50 m, and trying to tie up all loose ends. Four of the science party will stay aboard for a possible chance to do box coring as the ship stops for hub purification on the way north.
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