25 July, 2001
Wednesday, 25 July 2001
Life on Board
The ship is like a very small town where you know everyone and pretty much know where they are most likely to be at any given time, or you can certainly find them if you need to. There is no complete privacy and you must just learn to deal with it because that is the way it is. You have everything you need and there is always plenty to do, but now I know I will have more sympathy for people in the Navy who are at sea for months at a time. Even though you are busy, you often think about what friends and loved ones are doing right now. It is like going to school or work and staying there for 2 months, pretty much without outside contact. It is almost like a psychological study. This is the reason that the staff makes such an effort to put together special events. It has been almost one month (Friday) since we left from Sweden and halfway through my journey.
I am rambling on about this because I came down with "The Cold" today. We work and live in such tight quarters and breathe the same air and pick up the same coffee pot (and work with the same bacteria) that things get circulated through everybody on board. I have been avoiding The Cold since the first week but it has finally found me in my little container on Deck 4.
Where Are We Now?
We are still going around in circles shooting air at the sea floor above the Lomonosov Ridge about 87o N and 141o E. The best thing about this is that the ship goes as slowly and smoothly as possible and tries to find open leads so that the long cable of microphones towed behind the ship doesn't get tangled in ice. This by no means implies that we are sailing along without bumping. The bumps are just more in slow motion and we stay keeled over to one side for a long time before we rock slowly back over to the other side. This actually makes it difficult to open the heavy outer doors because you must wait until the ship rocks back over to the other side and you also have to time it for climbing into bed if you are in the top bunk, like I am.
Scientists at Work
The seismic team (only 3 scientists) has asked for volunteers from all of the groups during this operation just to help them keep watch on the cables 24 hours a day. Actually, it is pretty much impossible to avoid ice entanglement and they lost one air cannon on the Oden Arctic Expedition in 1996 (oops, there goes $150,000!). As the Oden moves through the ice, sometimes big blocks of ice go under the ship and pop out the back rather than be pushed to the side. As they pop up, the 450-meter cable of microphones instantly starts wrapping up around them, like wrapping a kite string around a stick. Apparently, they lost some of this cable in a wrap up on the first day. If you are on "cable watch" when this happens, you immediately call the bridge and tell them to stop the ship. We back up and try to unwrap, sometimes a lengthy operation. This type of air cannon system is common for sea floor mapping in open water, but perhaps is not the best for pack ice at the North Pole. It depends on where you are on the ship, but the air cannon sounds like a real cannon going off in the distance every 30 seconds and you feel the ship give a slight shudder (if we are in a calm spot or stopped).
Since we are doing seismic work, the Atmospheric Chemistry group took advantage of the break to have a mini-conference where each of our subgroups presented the data that they have collected/analyzed for the stations so far. Our subgroups include: Aerosols, Meteorology, Biology, and Chemistry. It was interesting because the main purpose of this expedition is to try and understand the entire picture of how each part affects the whole and how this affects the global climate. First, we had an overview of the things that they know so far about the various cycles of different chemicals and how they are transported through the water, ice, and air, then we looked at specific data from the stations. At our next mini-conference, we will take each station and data from each group and try to make correlations between events that were observed by the various subgroups.
Vi ses! (See you later!)
From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, somewhere around 87 N on the Lomonosov Ridge,
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