Welcome to my first ever foray into the blog-world. I’ve made a few
personal diary/journal entries in the past – but the cute little blank books
are starting to pile up (and not turning any less-blank) since my mother still
believes that I write every day. Not quite.
Aaaanyways. That’s my warning to anyone who continues to read this. A
caution that I am not always the most graceful or poignant writer. I can write
a science lab on the spot, but anything that is supposed to engage the reader –
well, I haven’t tried since eleventh grade English (and that goes for spelling/grammar
Ok, what’s the purpose of all of this then? Well, I’m going on a boat. A
big boat. For an extended period of time. To somewhere that’s not a normal
pleasure cruise destination. And I’d like to share some of the stories that go
along with it, and hopefully a picture or two!
I just started my schooling up again here in Ottawa. I don’t know how I
became so insanely fortunate, but I get to pack myself and a hockey bag full of
equipment up and jet on to Yellowknife, NT tomorrow morning, meet with a bunch
of really awesome (at least that’s what I’m telling myself, since I haven’t met
any of them yet) research scientists (which perhaps makes the above description
somewhat paradoxical) and then continue on to Kugluktuk, Nunavut on Tuesday.
From there? A hop, skip and a helicopter ride onto CCGS Amundsen, the Canadian
icebreaker – my home for three and a half weeks.
So what is the purpose of this little pleasure cruise through the
Northwest Passage to Quebec City? Somehow I walked into a research project
where I get to go and study ice islands – which are a breed of icebergs, but
you can land a helicopter on them. They are of high interest nowadays – with increased
oil exploration and infrastructure development off of the east coast and in arctic
waters. You really have to have a well engineered platform for it to withstand
one of these knocking into it.
My time on an ice island will have me helicopter in (I’m really excited
about the heli’ part, if you haven’t noticed), then drill some holes with an
ice auger (have I ever used an ice auger – or any auger for that matter? Well,
there’s a first time for everything and I may as well be on a huge free
floating mass of ice), put in some handcrafted 20 m long stakes constructed
from PVC conduit and wooden doweling, then measure ice thickness with a
home-made ground penetrating radar (now it’s starting to sound cool right?).
Next get back to the chopper and be dropped off a km or two away (on the same
piece of ice!) and repeat! The goal is to be back next spring or summer to
retake these measurements with the radar and also establish the surface melt by
how much of those fancy PVC stakes are exposed when I get back.
Now this wasn’t the original plan. I was supposed to be boarding an ice
island (deemed ‘Berghaus’) that had been previously visited in July by a
research team – and been meticulously instrumented and measured. I was to
re-measure and then come back home with the weather station other fun
Science research doesn’t always go as planned however, and Berghaus no
longer exists. The beacons that were originally telling us where Berghaus was
positioned went free-drifting, and the weather station stopped transmitting
data. Imagery taken since shows a fragment of what the original ice structure
was – at least demonstrating that this research is timely! We were all surprised
and disappointed by how quickly it melted away though.
Now the backup plan comes into action! I’m stoked and just a tad nervous
to be the ‘above-water’ project leader. If all goes as planned (and from above,
we know that doesn’t always happen), I’ll measure one or two known ice islands
positioned in Lancaster Sound and Baffin Bay. Goal: come back with actual data,
get the stakes in, and not actually have to see if the flattering suit (shown
below) actually will keep me afloat!
Happy October everybody, be in touch!