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15 August, 2004

Up in the helicopter and waiting to drill

Its 2330 and I'm waiting for my laundry to dry. I left it and forgot about it earlier this evening because I had a chance to ride in the helicopter to do ice reconnaissance! While I was preparing to go to the nightly briefing to hear the update on "what's happening", I got a call on my mobile phone that if I wanted to ride along on the reconnaissance flight I had to be dressed in winter clothes and on the heli-deck in less than 5 minutes. As it is Sunday night when we dress up a bit for dinner I had to change quickly into my jeans and boots and new Swedish Polar Research jacket! My fellow teacher Erik and I were going with an Ice Management Team Member, Andrei Masanov and the helicopter pilot, Sven Stenval. We had to put on the huge orange survival suits - Erik was issued a size large, and I an XL!! It was "wicked" as we say back in my birth state of Massachusetts. I was not really nervous at all; after watching the previous transfers between the ships, I was excited and waiting my turn to go. We took off gently from the Oden, sailed up and then landed briefly on the Russian icebreaker so Andrei could conference with another Ice Observer, then we were off again. We flew for over an hour, pretty low on the ice looking for large floes while Andre noted information on ice floe size and coverage at different GPS points. Erik and I sat very contentedly in the rear seats, the only sounds we made were the clicking of the digital camera and the whir of the video. It was absolutely beautiful to watch the colors of the ice vary as we looked at ice as far as the eye could see. I apologize that mere words cannot describe the experience. We were also always on the lookout for polar bears but none were to be seen. Really it was cool - ice, ice, ice!

The excitement is mounting as the Vidar Viking prepares to drill the first core. The site is located at 87.54 N , 138.30 E. At 1100 UTC tonight the coring began. First a drill pipe has to be lowered to the seafloor to a water depth of about 1100 meters. Then the actual drilling and coring can begin. There is much excitement and interest as we await news of the drilling progress.

We are all dressed up and ready for ice reconnaissance.

Doing ice reconnaissance in the Arctic

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