Winding down

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A toast to the end of a long successful cruise: Dan, John, Georgia, Arne, Francesco, Caroline

A toast to the end of a long successful cruise: Dan, John, Georgia, Arne, Francesco, Caroline

September 30, 2014, by Dan Wolfe

The end of a research cruise is very interesting and what goes on depends on the type of cruise, its location, and the scientific groups involved. This is an overview as it has unfolded on the Oden.

Rumors always begin near the end of a cruise as to when we will stop collecting data and head for home. After 36 days at sea we shut-down the oceanographic operations Wednesday September 24. This meant no more CTD’s or bottom coring. Other parts of the cruise continued, including ocean floor mapping near 85N of the Lomonosov Ridge. From there we headed back into the ice so the oceanographers and crew could pack and secure their gear in preparation for any rough weather. In fact, the entire ship was asked to secure everything. This was completed Friday September 26, at which point we began heading south to Norway still mapping the bottom along the way. The captain and the meteorological officer (along with the help of Ola Persson) looked at the long-range weather forecasts to decide the best course to follow. This time of year the Barents Sea, which we have a ~2 day transit across, is known for storms and that’s what the forecasts were calling for. To minimize our time in heavy seas, we’ve been staying along the ice edge, heading generally west toward Franz Josef Land before turning south.

Even though the oceanographic side of SWERUS is finished, the meteorological team continues to collect data and launch weather balloons. We are very interested in what is happening along the ice edge so this is a fantastic opportunity for us. It would be great to be able to collect data in the Barents Sea if there is a storm, too. We are kind of crazy that way and will continue our normal routine as long as possible weather and seas permitting.

Table setting

Table setting

The crew of the Oden never shuts down. The cooks, mess ladies, engineers, abled seamen, and bridge watch carry on as usual. Well, almost as usual. Saturday, as I mentioned before in the blog, is formal dinner night. This last Saturday, the crew took that to a whole new level with an end-of-cruise dinner. The evening started with a gathering by all in the bar. Besides the normal bar favorites, a punch was served. Not to be confused with the warm Thursday evening “punch”. While mingling, the Captain announced there was a polar bear off the starboard side. We were steaming along, so there wasn’t a lot of time for pictures, but it was a large male lopping across the ice (maybe our last). When it came time for dinner, we were invited into the dining area where the crew acted as our hosts and waiters! The normal wine and beer were accompanied by small sample bottles of various liquors, some tasty and others not so tasty, depending on your preferences for that sort of thing. Dinner started with a shrimp and caviar salad followed by an excellent roast beef with oven roasted potatoes and one of their wonderful cream sauces. All of this was finished off with everyone’s favorite dessert, princess cake, not only in celebration of the end of the cruise, but also two birthdays (Clint and Joseph). The Captain (Erik), Co-Chief Scientist (Martin), Swedish Polar Science Coordinator (Magnus), and Russian Co-Chief Scientist (Andrei) all gave little speeches thanking everyone for their hard work and great success.

Magnus, Martin, Erik, Andrei

Magnus, Martin, Erik, Andrei

So what else are people doing who aren’t collecting data anymore? For many there is data archiving, data back-up, more archiving, and more back-up. If you figure how much this cruise cost not only money wise, but in person hours and then add in the scientific value, which is incalculable, these data are priceless. Other activities include writing end of cruise reports, analyzing data, and just relaxing by reading, watching movies, or catching up on much needed sleep.

 As we find our way back to land I would like to thank everyone who may have followed our blog and hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would like to send out a special “Hello” to the parents of Laura Gemery in Cleveland, OH who I heard were regular followers!! We all look forward to getting home wherever that maybe.

Laura and Natalia: Two happy scientists!

Laura and Natalia: Two happy scientists!

Visitors

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R/V Polarstern, by Mario Hoppmann, Alfred Wegener Institute

Polarstern in Aug 2011 (Credit: Mario Hoppmann, Alfred Wegener Institute)

20 September 2014, by Dan Wolfe:

Yesterday we has some scientists from the German icebreaker, Polarstern, fly over in their helicopter to the Oden. I told you there was more going on up here than one would imagine. I heard about the visit over breakfast from one of our scientists who is from Germany, has been on the Polarstern, and had a friend he was communicating with. It was an exciting time and we knew they were in the area. If you remember from an earlier blog I mentioned the Polarstern had been close to the pole. It was exciting to see their ship off in the distance and then follow the helicopter through binoculars as it approached the Oden. I’ve been lucky enough to experience this when I flew out to the icebreaker I was on by helicopter in Nome, AK after attending Naval Underwater Diver’s School in Key West, FL.

Helicopter from the Polarstern

Visitors from the Polarstern

Visitors from the Polarstern

The main purpose of this trip had to do with the ocean bottom mapping we are doing. The Polarstern has mapped this same area before, but the Oden has a new and very sophisticated multi-beam sonar that can map the bottom in detailed 3-D. This instrument is starting to be used all over the world and is capable of showing in great detail features on the bottom and in the water column. On the cruise we are interested in finding seeps, evidence of glacial activity, and in general mapping the depth of the ocean. Seeps are essentially bubbles released from melting permafrost on the bottom of the ocean and are believed to be methane. Another feature that is proving to be very exciting to our chief scientist is finding scouring on the ocean bottom made by glaciers from previous ice ages. This information along with the water and bottom coring samples will help them understand what may have happened many years ago. Mapping of the ocean depth is important for two reasons. Scientifically we are gathering data in regions where there may be none or verifying and improving previous results. Right now we are mapping the Lomonosov Ridge. This is a feature in the Arctic Ocean that extends from the Continental Shelf out nearly to the North Pole. Our main interests are how this ridge affects the circulation in the Arctic. How deep is it and how many cuts are in it that might allow water to flow from one basin to another? This circulation is connected to the world’s oceans circulation and climate. This becomes interesting for political reasons too as the Russians are claiming this ridge extends their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) out to the North Pole. If in fact there are cuts in the ridge it may no longer qualify as an extension of their EEZ. This is not our place to say one way or the other, but has been in the news and therefore something we talk about amongst ourselves.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our blog as much as I’ve writing it. We are all getting stir crazy and ready to head home. For the last several days we’ve been above 85N, which puts us very close to the North Pole and we can almost see Santa’s workshop! It has also reduced our ability to communicate with the outside world. The communication satellites are right at or below the horizon at this latitude. We are expecting a rough ride home through the Barents Sea and will be securing everything that isn’t already over the next couple of days. Meteorologically we would like to keep sampling the atmosphere on our way back including launching balloons. This may become too dangerous and we’ve been told if it gets too rough no one will be allowed on the outside decks. Also because our container where we prepare the radiosonde sits on top of the bridge it is affected even more by the rolling of the ship and quite unsafe. What we do for science!

One more item before I sign off. Did you ever wonder how clean the air is in the Arctic? We hear about man’s pollution making it all the way to the Arctic. Well the other day we noticed we couldn’t see our breath even though it was -5C (23F). The reason is the air is very clean and lacking any small particulates that the moisture from our breath can condense on. As we walk around the outside of the ship and pass by any of the exhaust vents coming from inside the ship you will see your breath then. For example the exhaust from the kitchen has enough particulates to collect allow us to see our breath. I’ve heard about this before from co-workers who were on the Oden in 2008. In fact they made a video of this you might be able to find on the web somewhere. What would be fun is if I can use the IR camera to capture this. I need to plan it out more though. My first attempts have not been totally successful. Seeing your breath with the IR camera probably won’t work, but the same idea is possible using a “Steaming” hot drink. Wish me luck!

“How’s the food?”

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8 September 2014, by Dan Wolfe:

Probably the most often-asked question I hear is “How is the food?” Before I left, several folks were joking that I’d be sick of Swedish meatballs before I got back. I can tell you right now 100 percent that won’t be the case. In fact we’ve only had them one time. I would say so far the food has been top notch. Mealtimes are rather short and it would be nice to relax more but that is a minor issue. Of course, the food has a European style. I’m not an expert, but Ola our Swedish Food and Cultural Guide, seems to be enjoying himself and classifies the food we’ve been served so far as traditional. Tastes vary widely. The opinions that follow are from someone who likes to eat and is open to most foods.

Our menus are listed in both Swedish and English. It is not always easy to translate from one to the other, though most times what they say it is in English actually tastes similar. The chili was very much as I like it, leaving me craving more Mexican. Hamburgers, on the other hand, had a different texture and were not like American hamburgers. The curry was quite good and got lots of compliments. Sweden is not unlike the U.S. in that they have had a lot of immigrants which translates into many different ethnic foods. The make-up of the crew is primarily Swedish, but we have Americans, British, Germans, Canadians, Russians, one Spaniard, one Portuguese, one Italian, and one Greek. Many of these are students studying at Stockholm University.

Breakfast is comprised of fresh rolls or bread, cheese, assorted meats (sausages, ham, salami, and prosciutto), fresh fruit (while it lasts), vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, and pickles), dry cereal, yogurt (very tasty and different from most in the U.S.), hot cereal, and assorted jellies. Although eggs are not a standard at breakfast, we have had cheese omelets or eggs on bread from time to time. No toasters. The two most unusual things we’ve had so far are ravioli and blood pudding. Of course, juice, milk, tea, and coffee are served.

Lunch is the longer meal time wise and consists generally of meat and potato dishes. This is not to say we don’t have variety. I can’t remember being served the same thing twice for lunch or dinner. We’ve had hamburgers, chili, pasta carbanera, shepherd’s pie, fish (cod, herring), and curry, to name a few. The only meal I can say didn’t suit me was the salted herring. This must be an acquired taste as it seemed way too salty for most anyone but the Swedes. This is also when the salads come out. I don’t know what is in all of them, but we have your standard lettuce salad and then there are a number of bean, pepper, lentil-type salads with onions and great dressings. The cabbage and carrots are starting to come out now that we are probably running low on lettuce and tomatoes. Everything is very colorful, including two recent additions: spiced green pea and carrot pureed salads. Just the one main dish for everyone rather than several different ones like I’ve experienced on U.S. ships. Oh yeah: more fresh bread, rolls, cheese and butter!

Elk or moose?

Elk or moose?

Dinner is a little more formal, but the food isn’t too different from lunch. The salads are similar and we again have fresh breads/rolls, cheese, and butter. One of the more memorable meals was ‘elk,’ actually moose… You can see how it was listed on the menu. Of course, this confused those of us from North America. We confirmed this was indeed moose. It was good, but to me didn’t have a lot of flavor. There are two special dinner nights, Thursday and Saturday. Thursday, as we heard from the Leg1 Met Team, is Swedish Pancakes and yellow pea soup night. Their pancakes are more what I would call a crepe (not quite as thin). There is an assortment of jellies to put on it and ice cream, if you so desire ,as the main meal or later as a dessert. The soup is quite tasty with several mustards to mix in. They really complement each other well and the dinner line is especially long this night. Served warm with the meal is a Swedish liquor punch. Somewhat fruity and hard to describe, except to say it is “smooth.” Saturdays are also special, as formal nights. Formal means no work clothes and dress-up if you can. Some ladies and gentlemen go all out with dresses, ties, and coats. It is fun, and makes you forget a little where you are. Wine (in real wine glasses) and beer are also served at this meal.

We eat off real plates and not metal trays with compartments to separate the food! At all meals you can eat as much as you want, but you are requested to not take more than you can eat. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of waste, which I credit to having a single main dish and excellent planning. The cooks are super friendly.

sweets

sweets

Coffee Breaks (10 and 3) are a Swedish tradition and a must on the ship. With the wind chill outside consistently near 0oF it is a way to warm-up on the outside too. Though I’m not a coffee drinker I can tell you the coffee is extremely strong. There is a hot beverage machine with things like latte, hot chocolate, expresso, and hot water for tea. Tea is almost as popular as coffee from what I’ve noticed. Often for the afternoon break there will be some little sweet treat, or on Sundays a “large” sweet treat. I sometimes forget or skip the breaks, but those who know I like desserts will call me when something special is waiting. 

Dessert: I guess you noticed I only mentioned dessert once (Thursday ice cream). So far we have not had desserts. Again according to Ola, the Swedish make wonderful desserts, but they just aren’t served on the Oden. We have experienced cakes and sweets served at the 3 pm coffee break. One of those called a prinsesstårta (“princess cake”) was heavenly. This is the same cake that won Ola the first prize in the NOAA/ESRL dessert contest a couple of years ago. You can purchase snacks, ice cream bars and treats, candy bars, and chips anytime you want.

Bar: Yes we have a bar serving wine, beer, various hard liquor and soft drinks. It’s a serve yourself and honor system. After dinner people will gather round to talk, play games, watch a movie or just relax and listen to some music. The science party and crew are often on shifts so it usually not very crowded.

Coats and Polar Bear ties at dress-up night!!

Coats and Polar Bear ties at dress-up night!!

Thursday Night Swedish Pancakes and yellow pea soup

Thursday Night Swedish Pancakes and yellow pea soup.

 

 

 

It’s getting crowded up here

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3 September 2014, by Dan Wolfe: 

You would think traveling way north you wouldn’t run into anyone. Well, you’re wrong. Just this afternoon we were within sight of two other Russian ships. Who else in the world has icebreakers and why? As you can imagine, the countries that boarder the Arctic or with coastal waters that freeze might need an icebreaker to keep their ports open and ocean going vessels moving in and out. This is the commercial side. Then there are the countries who may want an icebreaker to do some research or escort research and supply ships. Icebreakers are used in both the Arctic and Antarctic. I am only familiar with the U.S. icebreakers and just a few from other countries. When I was in the Coast Guard, we had 8 icebreakers that were transferred from the Navy after WWII: Northwind, Southwind, Eastwind, Westwind, Burton Island, Staten Island, Edisto, and Glacier. These icebreakers were called upon to resupply the U.S. stations in Antarctica as part of “Operation Deep Freeze.” They also provided support along our coasts and in other cold regions the U.S. has interests. In the late 70’s early 80’s, the U.S. commissioned two new icebreakers two replace its aging fleet. The newest icebreaker is the Healy, designed especially for scientific research. The United States now has only 3 icebreakers (Polar Sea, Polar Star, and Healy) and one of those is out of commission. 

From the chart below, you can see which countries have icebreakers, how many they have, and how powerful (represented by the color coding in the key in the bottom right) they are. As might be expected, Russia has the most icebreakers considering they have probably the largest region boarding the Arctic Ocean, north of Siberia. I assume some of the nations who support one or two icebreakers do so because they are part of the Antarctic Treaty and may have a remote station somewhere on the continent. As you have probably heard in the news, countries with icebreakers help each other out and will even hire out to do work for another country whose icebreaker(s) maybe be needed elsewhere. In an emergency like anywhere in the ocean the closest ship will offer assistance. In the case of the Antarctic and Arctic it has to be an icebreaker for most of cases. 

Back to our situation and who else might be in the area. Right now from what I’ve been told there are 5 icebreakers and 2 research ships in the Arctic besides the Oden: Russia 2 (Yamal and Federov), Canada 2 (Terry Fox and Louis St Laurent), Germany 1 (Polarstern), China 1 (Xue Lon), and Japan 1 (Mirai). Remember that is it summer, at least as far as the calendar says. Now the Arctic is a big place, but two of those have been within visual range of us today. The Yamal is a nuclear icebreaker, very powerful, and escorting the research ship Federov. Word is the Polarstern is very near the North Pole and having problems getting around due to the heavy ice conditions. The Terry Fox and the St Laurent are working in tandem. One of my colleges is on board the Miria, a Japanese research ship, maintaining more atmospheric instrumentation from ESRL’s Physical Science Division. The Mirai will be positioning itself as far north as the ice will allow in the Chukchi Sea for 20 days, but was diverted to Barrow because of a medical emergency (scientist with a kidney stone).

Major icebreakers of the world. US Coast Guard.

Major icebreakers of the world. US Coast Guard.

 

Can you spot the bears?

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2 September 2014, by Dan Wolfe:

IR image of polar bears

Can you spot the bears???

Before we get to the science, I’d like to tell you about my experience today. There have been several polar bear sitings on our leg, but unfortunately they were either too far away, or I failed to get word so I could go out on deck. This afternoon as I was leaving the lunch deck, I overheard someone mention seeing a bear. They said it was way off in the distance though. I wasn’t going to miss another opportunity no matter how far away it was. I had binoculars and a new camera to try out. I called the bridge so they could orient me: 45 degrees off the starboard (right) side they said. We are in 80-90% ice coverage, and a polar bear is white last time I checked. It took several minutes before I found it using the binoculars. My initial reaction was that the bear did stand more than I thought it would. I then got out my camera to see if my recent investment would pay off. Let me just tell you it exceeded my expectations, as did the bear(s). Oh yeah, I spotted a second bear. Mother and cub!! I was so engrossed in taking my own pictures and video, the next time I looked up there was a crowd of people, some with gigantic lenses snapping away all over the deck. It gets better. The bears were coming towards the ship, and we were sitting still doing oceanographic coring off the back of the ship. On top of this, the weather was cooperating with minimal winds. We figure the bears came within 150’ of the ship. Even without a camera you could see them sniffing the air, and the cub pushing up against its mother from time to time. After 20-30 minutes, or maybe longer as I must admit I lost track of time, they wondered off. Still better. A couple of hours later, I heard knocking where I was holed up with our instrumentation (no outside windows), and saw Barbara waving wildly through the inside door window. I knew immediately…more bears. In reality, the same two were back for an encore. This time there was a little bit more open water around, and we were hoping they’d go for a swim. No such luck, but they did cross some ice where they had to jump or test their footing. They came maybe a little closer, but didn’t stick around quite as long as the first time. Now for the best part! Remember my Met Team blog with the IR picture and my comment about wondering what a polar bear’s IR projection would look like? Well see for yourself. Look at the IR image before checking out the matching regular photo.

polar bearsI don’t think we want to say anything quite yet quantitative about our results until we understand exactly what the IR camera is seeing, and the details behind how the camera works. We already know that shooting these images over long distances, the atmosphere will have an effect.

A couple of last thoughts on today’s excitement. As the bears were wandering off the second time, several shipmates and I were talking about how privileged we were to see these animals in their natural environment. And even better than the pictures, is seeing them with the naked eye. To think they are wondering around on ice flows floating in water 3000’ deep in the middle of nowhere. Check out where this is relative to any land: 77o 11.27’ N and 179o 16.5 W.

Meet the met team

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29 August 2014, by Dan Wolfe:

MTMeet the Boundary-Layer Meteorological Team for Leg 2 of the Arctic Cloud in Summer Experiment-2014 cruise. In the very front we have Ola Persson. From left to right behind Ola we have Barbara Brooks, Dan Wolfe, Georgia Sotiropoulou, and John Pyrthrech.

Ola Persson: “Private Swedish Food and Culture Guide” is a seasoned Arctic researcher with NOAA’s ESRL/PSD/Weather and Climate Physics Branch out of Boulder, CO and team leader for the Boundary-Layer Meteorology Team. His specific interests are in the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean and sea ice along the ice edge, or marginal ice zone, including those associated with clouds, mesoscale dynamics, and ocean waves. As team leader he is responsible for making sure that our scientific interests continue to be met throughout the cruise. Ola was born in Sweden moving to the US at the age of 8, though his home in the U.S. had very strong Swedish flavor to it. He has returned numerous times to Sweden to visit relatives and work for periods of a few months to a few years. His Arctic interests began with a summer job he had working as a field assistant at the University of Stockholm’s Tarfala glaciology station in northern Sweden, where he made surface radiation, mass balance, and runoff measurements on the glaciers. This job was arranged for him by Bert Bolin, a famous Swedish meteorologist who has given his name to the research center in Stockholm and who was a former folkdance partner of Ola’s mother. Besides being a great liaison he has provided us with some insights to the crew and things that are foreign to the rest of us.

Barbara Brooks: “Master of Soundings” is from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and is based at the University of Leeds, UK. She’s got fingers in a number of instrument pies, primarily the atmospheric sounding system, LiDAR, and Radiometer, but is also helping out in the running of the Leeds flux mast and WAVERIDER buoy. In her spare time she is also baby-sitting the methane measuring system from Stockholm University that ran on the first leg. Her husband Ian Brooks, also with Leeds, was on the “Met Team” for leg 1. They managed to say quick hello during the crew change over in Barrow before heading in opposite directions. This is the first time she’s actually sailed on the ODEN: during the 2008 ASCOS project she had instrumentation deployed on the ship but spent the project flying over the ship in NASA’s DC8 research aircraft along with Ola as part of the AMISA project.

John Prytherch: “Flux flummuxer” is a postdoc scientist at Leeds University in the UK, working for Ian Brooks, who was on the Met Team for leg 1. This is his first time in the Arctic. He’s previously been South on a hydrographic section from the Falkland Islands to the British Antarctic base Rothera, and is pleased to get to visit both ends of the world, though sadly not the poles (unless things on Oden go badly wrong so he says…). His main responsibility on ACSE / SWERUS-C3 is the air-sea flux mast on Oden’s bow, making use of his scientific background in directly measured air-sea fluxes. As a sort of hybrid oceanographer/meteorologist, he also deploys the WAVERIDER buoy when conditions allow, launches the occasional radiosonde and helps out Barbara and the others with their various systems. John also has a blog you may be interested in following.

Georgia Sotiropoulou: “Athena of the Arctic” is a PhD student at the Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University. Born in Athens, Greece she got her bachelor degree in Physics and master degree in Environmental Science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She moved to Stockholm two years ago to study the Arctic boundary layer and Arctic clouds. This is her first time in the Arctic and first time involved in field work! On Oden, she is responsible for the weather station, the T/RH sensors and the sonic anemometer deployed on the mast, while launching radiosondes twice per day. Georgia says launching weather balloons is her favorite task.

Dan Wolfe: “Grandfather of the BAO”, though semi-retired, volunteered for this research cruise with the desire to explore a part of the Arctic he’d never seen. As described in his bio earlier in this blog he first came to the Arctic in 1970 on board the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Glacier as part of WEBSEC, a baseline study in the Western Beaufort Sea prior to the Alaska pipeline. It is this adventure that encouraged him to begin a career in meteorology first with NOAA and now halftime for NOAA through the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science at the University of Colorado. This is the 4th icebreaker he has been on. He sees this as a chance to launch one more, and what could be his last, weather balloon in the same environment he launched his first!!! For those of you who don’t know, BAO stands for the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory. He has been a part of this research facility and its 300m tower located near Boulder, CO since its inception in 1977 and kiddingly referred to as its grandfather by a number of his much younger colleagues.

Our scientific goals are similar to those for Leg 1 described by Matt Shupe in his blog on July 12, but there are some important differences. Our track will be further out on the continental shelf in deeper water and the timing of our journey should include the refreezing of the ice. The surface of the ice stops melting and begins to refreeze in late August, while the bottom and sides of the sea ice continue melting until mid-September. There are signs that the melt-ponds on the surface of the ice where we are now are starting to refreeze. The average date of minimum sea-ice extent in the Arctic is Sept 15.

At rightMT-IR is an IR/thermal image matching the team picture as we stood out in the cold. Even though this picture is more of a fun experiment, the IR camera has a real scientific purpose and is part of an educational outreach program Matt Shupe conducts back in Colorado with local schools. If you remember Matt’s luggage didn’t make it to the ship before they departed and this was one of the items left behind. I hope to gather some interesting data for Matt including what kind of thermal image do polar bears and walrus project?

As the blog writer I’d like to say a little bit more about my fellow Arctic explorers. It’s been not quite 2 weeks and I feel like we already have great chemistry. Everyone is cheerful and willing to pitch in making things so much easier. After the work it’s fun to socialize whether it’s enjoying a “Pint” together or a friendly game of Ping-Pong (Pingis to the Swedes). I’m learning a lot about the Swedish and British and look forward to better understanding their humor and slang over the next 5 weeks. You can’t say enough having shipmates like these on such a long far away expedition!

 

A look at the Oden

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27 August 2014, by Dan Wolfe:

oden-model

Scale model of the Oden

Here is a quick overview of the Oden. As you can see from this scale model, and if you Googled the Oden online, it is a very unique looking ship. I have been on a number of icebreakers during my career, and I’d have to say this is the most interesting and well equipped so far. Most icebreakers have a tall super structure allowing them to scan for openings or leads in the ice. For people onboard the Oden, this translates into eight stories requiring multiple trips up and down the various flights of stairs every day. Another feature that stands out is its square bow designed for maximum efficiency in the ice. This same feature makes for a terrible ride in the open ocean, even during light seas. Most icebreakers roll a lot. The Oden jolts you and your equipment as waves slip under the bow or sides.

We have just entered the ice for the first time this leg. It is quite a site and sensation. It started out with very small chunks of ice floating by, but quickly changed to larger pieces and then flows. Depending on where you are on the ship you get a different feeling. From our cabin/stateroom you can feel the larger pieces giving an initial jolt followed by a scrapping noise as pieces slide along the side of the ship. When you are outside you can hear the cracking of the ice and watch as the flows tip over, often revealing small fish hiding under the ice. Something I learned this morning is that the ice flows under the ship past the screws. The screws have protective covers, but smaller pieces get through these covers making the whole ship feel and sound like a giant washing machine as the screws chew up the ice and spit it out behind the ship. Normally icebreakers are designed to deflect the ice around the ship and away from the screws. We have gone from the Marginal Ice Zone now into the main pack. This doesn’t mean we are surrounded by 100% ice cover, just that there are more large ice flows and less open water. I’ve even seen a few pressure ridges; places where two flows have come together from opposite directions pushing the ice up and down creating mounds of ice. These ridges are primarily older and harder ice that the ship will steer around. Now that we are in the ice, everyone is awaiting our first polar bear or walrus siting.

 

Introducing Dan Wolfe

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23 August 2014, by Dan Wolfe.

I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself. I’m a research meteorologist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, now working through CIRES after retiring from NOAA in 2011. I first became interested in the Arctic while serving in the US Coast Guard as a marine science technician/diver (1969-74), first on board an icebreaker and then with the oceanographic unit. In the early 1970’s I participated in the Western Beaufort Sea Ecological Study (WEBSEC): a baseline study of the Arctic north of Prudoe Bay, prior to building of the Alaska pipeline. While working for NOAA, I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in several other Arctic projects including the Arctic Leads experiment (LEADEX 1991), the Surface Heat Energy Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA 1997-98) experiment, the International Chemistry Experiment in the Arctic Lower Troposphere (ICEALOT 2008), and setting up a research site at Eureka, Canada as part of NOAA’s Study of Environmental Arctic Change program (SEARCH). I have also spent time at the South Pole (1993). My main area of interest is the boundary layer and air-sea interaction.

Changing of the guard…meet the Leg 2 team

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As goodbyes were being said on the Oden to Paul and Matt, arriving on the scene to take their place for Leg 2 of the expedition were Ola Persson and Dan Wolfe. The journey continues…heading from Alaska back to Norway with an expected arrival of October 4th.

19 August 2014, by Dan Wolfe:

Dan Wolfe

Dan Wolfe

We arrived in Barrow, AK yesterday, meeting up with all of the crew and scientific party that will be rotating onto the ship over the next day or two. There are a lot of details that need to be taken care of like taking on fuel and food supplies and waiting for customs officials to fly in from Anchorage so that the people on the ship can be welcomed to the United States. There is a contingent of Swedish staffwho are responsible solely for handling these things, but will not be sailing with us. They are even arranging for all the Swedish citizens to vote in their national election.

Bowhead whale skulls alongside the “Welcome to Barrow” sign with the Oden sitting offshore in the background at right.Barrow, a town of ~4,500 people, has not changed significantly in my mind since I first visited in the early 1970s. Many of the old buildings are still here, though they do have a new hospital and school. In the coming weeks I will try to keep of the blog and give my take how the Arctic appears to me.

 

19 August 2014, by Ola Persson:

Ola Persson

Ola Persson

The small boat used for transferring people and cargo.Currently, there is an exchange of scientists and crew going on in Barrow. The Oden is anchored a little more than 3 miles offshore of Barrow, and the exchange of science and ship crew will occur tomorrow (Aug 20) when the U.S. customs officials arrive.

A small boat carrying 20 people at a time will exchange the 60+ people plus luggage using four round trips. Since there is no harbor in Barrow (because it is so shallow) this small boat pulls directly on the beach to load/offload people and cargo. Some of the people onshore, including myself, went out to the Oden today to talk with the people we are replacing, and to transfer the operations of the onboard instruments.