Originally from October 7, a.m.
They are coming fast and furious now – the chunks of ice outside my window as
well as the blog updates. Figure I better get them in before the next satellite
decided to somersault up there in the heavens.
We’re on day 3 of the Arctic tour, and will be conducting the third round of
AUV tests early this evening when the ship stops at the next research station
#312. We’ll be out deploying off the barge again (as we did yesterday, details
to follow), while fellow researchers collect water samples and box cores from
the ocean sediments. Another operation is commencing shortly too – the
helicopter will take off and land on a piece of multiyear ice (approx 3-6 m
thick) to recollect a beacon and mooring that has been logging ice thickness
and ice/water temperatures.
Backing up for the time being – yesterday was day 2 and the second round of
AUV missions, which were far more successful that day 1. As in, the AUV
actually dove underwater – fancy that! We took off on the barge
around 9:30, and motored out a few hundred meters away from the mother ship.
This was no protected bay like day 1, and the seas were a-rollin’. My photo
album from this outing is limited, as I was in the cubby hole whenever my hands
weren’t needed, focusing all attention on keeping breakfast down. My teammates
had a good chuckle at my tactics later (slumply sitting, eyes closed, arms in
the zen buddhist position (I was praying to all deities by that point)), but we
were all feeling every wave crashing into the flat bottom boat.
Other than sea sickness – the trail runs went smoothly. A run of the AUV at
10m and another at 50m. We had added 300 g of weight to help keep Gavia
propellers underwater, and also made a few software adjustments. Conductivity,
temperature and depth (CTD) data was collected for at least a short spurt –
which is a major accomplishment as well. The issue came when we were trying to
retrieve our little AUV after it’s missions, as the swells and whitecaps were
hiding her very well. The hydrophone (above) only picked up a short signal,
so we were forced to return to the Amundsen to pick up our satellite phone
which Gavia will send lat and long coordinates too. Finally, with the
help of coast guard crew on the lookout, we spotted her and got GAVIA back on board
and we returned to the ship where I got some more solid footing!
The rest of the day was spent doing small chores. And it was Thursday, so bar night number 2 was on! This time it was a bit
quieter, as researchers were catching their sleep early since we would be
stopped at a station from midnight to 8 am and they’d be working through the
night. But the ship’s captain was there with us, feeding us jerky arctic char
(delicious and full of omega’s the captain told me with his French accent). The
captain sat with our team later on and I was astonished to hear that he had
been reading articles and papers in preparation for the helicopter deployment
and my boarding of an ice island to come later in the tour. He has been
incredibly helpful – getting us out for test runs as much as possible – and
also looking out for me! It is comforting. He continued discussing the fate of
the arctic and his dismay at what little is being done to protect it and the
globe in general. He would rather see work done to stop our contributions to
global warming instead of making preparations for adaptation to the situations
that warming will cause. He predicts no multiyear ice will be present in the
arctic after 2016. He has a bet on it with a friend even ($100). I guess that
brought the mood of this piece down a few notches, but it’s worth reporting.
To lighten things now, I just completed my first session in The Sweatbox.
Treadmill running while the ship careens through a minefield of ice chunks is
so fun, and when you `come on lets sweat` on repeat, it doesn’t get any
better! Running here is perfect too – I don’t have to increase or decrease the slope
because I just run up the waves!
Ok everyone. Off for now!