By now, we here crew and researchers of the Amundsen, have mostly learned to roll with whatever unplanned (but almost expected?) curves are thrown into our meticulously drawn up plans. I expect that those of you who bother to follow these updates are learning this as well, so it is probably no surprise to hear that this is being written during hour 3 (4? 5?) of sitting in the side-chamber like room at the Iqaluit airport which seems to be traditionally reserved for the terminal’s air traffic controllers. The weather conditions in Resolute Bay, where the Amundsen is currently waiting for us, can only be described as ‘really not good’. The first words from the three people I met at the airport at 4:30 this morning, after an initial handshake, were, “have you seen the forecast for up there today?” Blizzard + 50 to 80 kmh winds gusting to 110 + periods of freezing rain + a southern wind building giant waves = no helicopter, no barge, and perhaps even no landing our plane. Thus, we wait it out in the south. Side note: I can now say that I’ve eaten Arctic shawarma because of this layover.
We’ve kept busy back in Ottawa with our preparations for this next tour of Arctic Canada since our ‘surprise’ field season when we went offshore Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this year. I’m joining 40 crew members, and a smattering of scientists, who will be on board for the full 5 week tour of Baffin Bay, the Labrador Sea and St. Lawrence River. Others will come and go as we stop in Pond Inlet and Iqaluit, NU on the way. About a dozen high school students from across the country are also joining us for a trip which all of their friends back home are going to be mega-jealous.
Our team is very appreciative of the large amount of time which has been allocated to ice island field work during this leg of the science cruise. If all goes to plan (and we know how well that usually goes), we will re-survey a small fragment of the ice island which we worked on in 2014. The beacon which we deployed to track the ice island’s drift since then is showing a location right in the vicinity of the ship’s planned track. However, if there is still a piece of ice associated with the beacon remains yet to be confirmed. Otherwise, we’ll look to do a similar thickness profile and photo-survey for 3D modeling on a new ice island. We’re also hoping to use the ship’s sonar to map the seafloor in a region where numerous ice islands have beached themselves, in the hopes of finding some significant scour marks.
The big work, which we would love all of your positive thoughts to be directed to, will take place in mid-October as we steam down the east coast of Baffin Island. There are a number of ice islands grounded along the coast, ranging from <1 km2 to >14 km2. All of the preparations I mentioned above will go toward two equipment installations on the chosen ice island (i.e., the one we reach when the sun is shining). We’re planning on setting up a prototype ice penetrating radar which will take daily ice thickness measurements for us to monitor the ice island’s thinning. The second system is a small weather station which will record, among other things, surface melt. We’ll use this (with the thickness) to determine the mass balance (thinning magnitude, with the top and bottom surface contributions known). The weather station is also decked out with a camera, which keeps an eye on the radar system, GPS, air and ice temperature sensors and a modem/antenna for transmitting all this data back to an email inbox. Because if we happen to lose the equipment to Neptune, we may as well have some data for all of this effort!
Thanks for reading, catch you somewhere near Greenland..
Over and out.