Here on the Amundsen, the first of three legs is coming to an end today. We’re chugging south from a transect across Baffin Bay at 76°N and will arrive in Pond Inlet, Nunavut later this morning where a small crew change will take place. The ten high school students and three teachers who have been shadowing us to learn all they can on Arctic science in their eleven days on board are disembarking there, and my friend & major help, Graham, will be joining us.
Reporting on Leg 4a, the one just wrapping up, doesn’t take long. Starting 36 hours late made for some tricky scheduling by the chief scientist, but we were quite successful in the oceanographic sampling department. Unfortunately, a case of ‘disappearing ice island’ hampered my efforts to survey any piece as I had done 2014. A particular piece in the vicinity of our ship’s planned track was being followed on satellite imagery until the end of August, but since that time has become too small or was obscured by surrounding sea ice, and we were no longer to monitor its location.
We did hope to do some bathymetric (sea floor) mapping to try and locate large scour marks made by ice islands running a ground. There is one location where this has happened repeatedly, and with great force, as far as we can tell from our remote monitoring with satellite imagery. The ‘unfortunately’ for this one was too much sea ice in the area, making it impossible to use the ship’s sonar for the mapping.
The one small, but fun, success was our retrieval of a beacon which I deployed on an ice island much further north in Kane Basin last year. This particular type of beacon floats, and the First Mate was able to spot it with his eagle eyes (and some trusty binoculars) bobbing in the waves 2000 ft away. Now we will try and redeploy the beacon on a new ice island, along with the three others given to us by Environment Canada’s staff of ice island fans.
Besides the above, it has been more and more preparation for the big days of work on the new leg 4b. We’re aiming for some large pieces of ice just north of the Cumberland Peninsula and Iqaluit. Our weather station is plugging away on the ‘Monkey’s Island’ just above the wheelhouse, the physical set up of the radar system is all ready, and it seems like we are just tying up the loose ends so that on the big day we are as smooth and efficient as possible.
Without much more science to report on, I’ll fill you in on the important comings-and-goings of Amundsen life.
- Bar tending is a role that one is expected to fill, from time to time, when that someone is not busy with their own sampling operations. I finally fulfilled my duty as bar tender after 4 years coming on board. It’s a tough job, especially for someone who knows zero about mixed drinks. Orders for them also had to come with instructions.
- I found the cappuccino machine. Yah – we are really roughing it up here. I am now developing a penchant for a foamed milk layer with my 10 am coffee. This will be an expensive habit when I get back to terra firma.
- There is a new gym! It’s on the bottom floor too, so you don’t experience as much roll. But this seems to also take the fun out of your on-ship workout. Treadmills are so much more interesting when you need to devote at least ½ your brain to staying upright.
- The pastry chef likes to sing. It is always in French, but today I recognized the Christmas tune. The snow draped over Baffin Island is getting him into the spirit apparently.
Most importantly: Please go to the below website and vote for Gabriel’s, my friend and shipmate, submission for the CARIS calendar competition. The underwater portion of the iceberg is mapped with a multibeam sonar, and Derek and I are on our way in the helicopter to deploy some beacons.
Keep wishing for that sunny weather for us! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!